January 31-2014
Dhvani Desai’s ‘Chakravyuh’ (Vicious Circle) Nominated for MIFF 2014 in International Competition Category

Founder of Metamorphosis Studio, International and Indian award-winning Animation filmmaker, Dhvani Desai’s 2D animated short on RTI Act ‘Chakravyuh’ (Vicious Circle) , is nominated for Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) in the International Competition Category, which is set from 3-9 Feb.

Produced by Films Division, Chakravyuh has also bagged Award for Best practices in RTI from the DOPT GOVT. OF INDIA NEW DELHI AND YASHADA

In a conversation with AnimationXpress.com, Dhvani takes us through the making of this four minute animated short.

What is Chakravyuh all about & when was it released?
This film is an effort to eradicate “Corruption” through usage of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) by showing real life experiences woven together with colorful visuals and satirical poem.

The Film illustrates the petty struggles of four characters. All unrelated with each other and dispersed in different parts of India. They all have completely different type of problems in their lives but surprisingly have the same solution. Click here to see the Film

The first public screening of the film was on the occasion of celebration of the 8th RTI Anniversary in Mumbai on 12th Oct 2013. The function was organized by Padmabhushan Shri Julieo Rebeiro’s PCGT (Public Concern for Governance Trust), the Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Anti Corruption Cell (IMC) and the BCAS (Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society). The film was released by the Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra. The film is meant for theatrical release and so it will be shown in single screen theatres across the country before the feature films.

Before moving onto a detailed discussion about the movie, Can we know more about your journey in this Industry?

As an animation filmmaker, I’ve been in the field since more than two decades. I have had a completely different academic background but my passion for art and creativity has brought me here. I’ve graduated with a B.Sc in Statistics and then pursued a D.C.M , a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, joined the Law College before completing my MBA in Finance from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai University.

I wanted to go to an Art school but my parents felt that it’s necessary to have a serious professional degree. After I finished with my education, I confessed about this dream to my parents.My father always told me ” Don’t follow your dreams chase them….that’s the way to happiness.” And so even after having an MBA Degree, I decided to enter the field of Animation in early 90’s.

Please continue…

I have worked with a couple of animation studios including Computer Graphiti a pioneer studio in Computer animation, before establishing my own studio “Metamorphosis. I mainly did a lot of animation and special effects for the Ad films which included 2D and 3D. But somehow I was still not satisfied. Since my childhood I always wrote poems and stories. So I decided to write scripts and direct short films so that I have more control over each and every aspect of the film. My earlier films have been selected in numerous film festivals across the globe and have also won many international and Indian awards.

Currently, I am also on the Grand Jury of New York Film Festivals for the fourth time along with serving as a Judge for other prestigious awards.

Can you elaborate more on the story line?

I have illustrated four stories from different parts of the country. I was clear that I wanted to narrate as many stories as I could, to create an impact in the minds of the audiences so that they realize that RTI can be used for many issues. The first story is of a young widow and her little boy from Goa who goes from pillar to post to get pension and compensation from her deceased husband’s Govt. office. The second story is of a man from Lucknow who wants an electric meter to be fitted in his house without giving a bribe. Third story is from Bengal about a poor farmer whose land gets encroached by goons. And the last story is about a law abiding man from Kerala who is fed up with the garbage in front of his house. Typical struggles that any common man faces in one’s life.

Does the story line come from any personal experiences?

Well, yes! It is inspired from personal experience and success achieved through the Right to Information (RTI) and the title “Chakravyuh “is inspired from one of the stories of the Great Indian epic Mahabharata. I had heard about Right to Information (RTI) but had no idea how to use it, until I was forced in the situation.

Some time ago, the building in which I resided underwent Major Repairs. The way the Society’s Managing Committee was functioning I realized that something was not right. There was tremendous misuse of power and severe violations of the law. I filed RTIs in the relevant Govt .Depts. and found that the repairs were completely illegal and then the concerned Statutory Bodies took necessary actions.

The success I got through usage of RTI empowered me so much that I decided to make a film on it and reach out to the masses and popularize it.

Why did you choose Animation for showing RTI?
Animation is my medium of expression and hence to use animation for the film on RTI was an obvious decision. I felt this medium is a best way to talk about a serious subject so that I am able to make a difference in a life of a common man.

How was the production process like?
It took me nearly 8-9 months to work on this film as it was stylized. The animation of the film is done at Metamorphosis and with 13 artists working on it. The software used is Adobe Flash, Photoshop and After Effects.

Please share more about the dialogues?
Narration was a very crucial aspect. As I come from an illustrious creative family of writers, poets and filmmakers, Poetry is a very natural expression at my home, and so I was keen that I weave the visuals with a satirical poem to narrate the stories. Being a poet myself, I am biased towards this form. My elder brother Sanskar Desai a senior Filmmaker composed the poem for this film.

What was the most challenging aspect in developing the short film?
Firstly, it was a Legal act that I was talking about so a lot of care had to be taken in its interpretation. At the same time since I have extensively used RTI there was no fear of handling this subject too.

The style I have used turned out to be very heavy as all the layers were textured with newspaper cuttings and since this was a film in 35 mm it had to be 2K resolution too ! Multi-layering with effects was taking very long for tests. Since I had used newspaper cuttings; I had to be careful that no text was seen which hurts any sentiments of any community or offends anyone. I had to make language experts browse through the film to see such texts do not catch the eye of the viewers.

In the stories with Urdu or Bengali textures in the background, I had to hunt for people to help me translate the names of the shops or text on boards at the Govt .office. For instance, I could not find anybody who can read write Urdu, after a lot of search, I was given a name of a Maulvi in a nearby Masjid. Finally I managed to get him help me! Hence in this way, I have taken care of even the smaller things that could make the film interesting at the same time informative too.

What are the upcoming plans for Chakravyuh?
The film has already hit the single screen theatres from 1st Nov 2013 and gradually shown throughout India. In all there are 4903 single screen theatres where the Films Division exhibits their public service films. The other modes of showcasing will be Doordarshan Television Channels, Internet, workshops etc. which will be taken care of by Films Division.