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Komal Panwar

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Neha Murthy Is Bringing Your Grandparents’ Childhood Games Back To Life. Wanna Give It A Go?

  • IWB Post
  •  February 5, 2018


Board games and my phone are my two greatest addictions. And, since I recently broke my mobile phone, I think my obsession with board games has gotten stronger. Sometimes, after I’ve fallen asleep, my parents swear that they have seen me playing sequence in a deep sleep.

I’m not even kidding. So, when came across Pachisi by Neha Murthy, I was glad.

Neha started presenting embroidered board games on fabric as a part of her college project. That’s good for me, right? This way, I will not have to worry about killing myself with cardboard. To bring some more guarantee of life in my sleep-games, I decided to dig more about Pachisi, in my conversation with Neha Murthy.

How did the concept come to your mind?

Pachisi was actually my final year project in college. I did my Masters in Design (Specialized in textiles). I was very clear that I wanted to design for children. All my project ideas got rejected one after the other. But then, I finally came up with the concept of board games on fabric. I chose fabric because I was studying textiles.

The thought was to revive ancient Indian games. I wanted to create curiosity amongst people to know what these games were and get them to play board games. I worked on various themes around the games and then got each of these games embroidered or/and appliqued with various Indian inspired themes. The project was thankfully a hit. img_1hile doing my project research, I found out that not many people were aware of old Indian games. Most people knew how to play some of the more popular games such as chess, snakes, and ladders but very few could understand Pachisi, Goats, and Tigers, etc. I also figured out that such games were hardly available in the market and that too on fabric. Yes, there are a few brands that were making board games on fabric, but I knew what I was making was visually different from their designs. I knew my products would stand out. That was the moment when I decided to take my college project as a full-time job.

Tell us about your team. Do you work with women artisans?

I don’t have any employees. I outsource my embroidery and stitching. The stitching is done by a lady name Parvathi. She is the one who brings it all together by stitching up our end product and neat packaging.

Dream products you wish to introduce.

I would like to design a wide range of products for nurseries and children’s rooms.

Tell us what your work desk looks like.

There are a lot of things on my work desk. You will find many tins with lots of thread inside. Generally, my table looks like a mess.

The entrepreneurial advice you’d like to share with your admirers?

Work towards making something substantial and different. Don’t worry about making mistakes, I’ve made a few, too, and some are embarrassing to even mention. You will only learn from them.

Who introduced you to the game, Pachisi and how?

Like I said, I did a project research, and that is when I came across Pachisi. I have never played this game as a child, but I have played a simplified version of this game called Ludo. It was only during my research that I came to know that Ludo was inspired from the Indian game of Pachisi.                                                                                                                                                          

Why did you use textile instead of cardboard? Is it easier to use?

Post my graduation; I could have done my board games in any medium. But I decided to stick on to fabric because not only do they last long but these are eco-friendly, too. And I love the concept of embroidered games, and it helps my products to stand out in the market. From a customer’s point of view, these are very light to carry and consume very little space for storage.img_4

What do the ‘players’ learn about Indian history while playing the games?

It is very important to include history to the games so that the consumers understand where it’s coming from. We provide a small info tag to let them know the period our games belong to.

Do you plan to create your own games and add them to the ‘Pachisi’ list?

Ah, one day, hopefully!

One game you are obsessed with?

Well, I think, as a child, I loved playing UNO!

One foreign game from history you’d like to introduce to Pachisi?

I have already introduced two ancient foreign games – Rota and Senet.img_5 img_6


One game you always lose.

Hmm… I don’t understand, but I think every die I use is bewitched. So, I think the issue remains that ever a game that requires a die isn’t the game for me! Yes, I struggle with it, a lot.

 An important lesson you learned from these games?

I think games are best icebreakers and a good way to get everybody together for a fun time.

Have you mastered all of them?

Hahaha. No way! Mastering? I still need a rulebook every time I sit down to play a game.

Is there a story behind the “three-eyed monster” in your felt collection?

Not at all. It could have had four or five eyes too. The mere idea of it excited me, just as I think it would excite children.

One board game ritual your family follows.

We don’t really have a ritual but we always bend rules and change them according to our convenience. Take any game and we have our own set of rules!

An incident where you cheated on a board game and got caught?

Such secrets should remain untold. *wink*

Have you ever twisted traditional rules of the game, to add freshness to the game?

Every game has more than one set of rules. It is difficult to point at one set of rules and be definite that this is the one that is original. I mean people play the same game differently in different groups. They give different names, too! So sometimes I like to take the best of each and present them all together.

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