February 1-2013
In Conversation with Kushal Ruia – Series Director and Creative Producer – Suppandi Suppandi

ACK Animation Studios’ much awaited Animated Series—Suppandi Suppandi has recently been aired on POGO and is now getting ready to tickle up bubbles of enjoyment, laughter and fun with release on Cartoon Network on 17th February  at 12 noon.

nullAnimationXpress.com’s Zeenia Boatwala had a conversation with Kushal Ruia, Creative Producer and Director of this animated series.

Here are the excerpts…

Suppandi is a renowned comic book character, what plan of action did you have in mind for bringing Suppandi to the animated television series?
Suppandi is one of Tinkle’s most beloved characters. Though created more than 30 years ago, he is a classic that remains popular even today. Suppandi is fun, innocent, endearing and timeless and so we knew he had much potential to work as a comedy animated series. We did have to rethink the stories and the format as print and film are two very different mediums. The series required a back-to-the-drawing-board philosophy so as to come up with something that would be relevant. The trick was to reinvent without losing the essence of Suppandi. For me personally, it was a daunting task to bring such a legendary character alive.The burden of carrying forward a glowing legacy in newer formats, in innovative ways is a fun challenge.

Please share with us the initial planning stages for the show and how much duration taken to complete the script and story for this animated series?
Suppandi in the comic medium was often a one-page gag with different characters in each story. We knew that short gags would not work for a TV Series and 11-minute episodes. Keeping this in mind, we created a completely new world for Suppandi with new characters that would be compelling enough to be featured regularly in the episodes. I wanted all the secondary characters in the show to compliment Suppandi and provide equal amount of entertainment and adventure.

Once we had the characters and plots figured out, it took almost 2-3 weeks to execute each script for every episode.We started developing the show in mid 2010.

We delivered the first 70min special in mid 2012. Currently the show has already been aired on POGO and will be aired on Cartoon Network on 17th Feb at noon.

Can you take us through the ins and outs of the pre-production for this series?
The most challenging part of the pre-production was coming up with a new cast of characters that would be worthy enough to stand alongside Suppandi. They had to be real and just as endearing as him.  Visually, we wanted to keep the show whacky and stylized. It has taken 3-4 months to develop the characters and their designs. We always tried to be as whacky as possible, much in line with Suppandi’s brand of humor. More often than not, we had to work hard to push and exaggerate everything.

Which aspects for the series needed more research?
For my team, Suppandi marked the first time we were creating a contemporary world and not period world like Ayodhya or Hastinapur. This gave us the license to explore the world of ’Aramnagar’ in innovative ways. Putting focus on the contemporary world, one of the ideas that I explored was to create a lazy town named Aramnagar where all buildings and vegetation seemed to form the shape of lazy pieces of furniture like comfortable sofas and recliners.

How many artistes have worked on the series?
Around 100 artists have worked on Suppandi from various studios. The main development and direction came from our in-house team at ACK Animation Studios, other than that Cornershop and Spellbound contributed substantially to the show. They worked with us to develop the show and did the actual production work. We would give them the scripts, the initial designs, creative brief and direction. They would execute the required art and send to ACK for feedback. There was a constant back and forth and working as a single team was required to make this quality of production possible.

What was your approach while making Suppandi Suppandi?
As the series director, my goal was to make the show visually appealing and fun with believable performances and gags that added to the personality of the characters. I believe we should follow our gut when bringing out a project! I am thankful to all the amazingly talented artists & writers—not only for the animated series but the original, inspiring comics whose contributions made this show so much fun to make… and watch!

And the most attractive aspect of the show is?
I feel the overall quality of the show has come out great! It achieves something that is rare in Indian animation and makes a good balance between storytelling and visuals. One more interesting factor of this series is that though it is at kids, it would also be equally engaging for adults. The show has turned out to be something the whole family can sit together and enjoy. All the characters in the series are individuals with distinct personalities. All of them have their own passions and problems which compliment and sometimes conflict with emotions and problems of Suppandi. I feel the designs, writing and voice work has come together to create a hilarious set of animated characters.

You’ve chosen 2D medium to animate the show, can you share more on this front?
Well, I am a great fan of classical animation and I believe that classical animation connects with kids in a way that CG cannot. In addition, the kind of cartoony animation and design that I was looking for this series is best served by classical 2D animation. CG tends to be more challenging with that kind of animation I had in mind and good quality CG tends to be prohibitive for TV budgets.

Please share more about the key people involved with Suppandi Suppandi?
Suppandi Suppandi has been entirely produced by ACK Animation Studios. I have been blessed with some fantastic collaborators on this project! The production was distributed between ACK Animation Studios, Spellbound and Cornershop.

Series Director, Creative Producer- Kushal Ruia

Executive Producer- Vijay Sampath

Story & Script Supervisor- Divya Chandel

Music- Abhishek Nailwal, Lyrics- Gautam Mehra

Additional Direction- Santosh Palav

Audio Production- Eliza Lewis

ACK Animation Studios Team Leads: Suresh Sonawane, Rajesh Sakpal, Vasant Pawar, Shailesh Ambre, Sudam Kute, Somnath Pal, Atul Rane, Santosh Jawale and Shyam Salunke.

According to you, what makes Suppandi Suppandi different from other animated television series?
‘Suppandi Suppandi’ is a series that brings to life a classic favorite beloved by generations. It appeals to older fans and makes new ones too. It is visually sophisticated like some of the best international Saturday morning cartoons, which is rare in Indian productions. Great production values, universal storytelling and exciting new characters make ‘Suppandi Suppandi’ too entertaining to ignore! I would be very happy if Suppandi is as successful in its animated form as he has been in the print.

We hope it raises the bar on Indian TV animation art and storytelling. A true entertainer for kids of all ages ranging from 5 to 500!

Please take us through the marketing and distribution process involved with Suppandi Suppandi?
Krishna Desai and his team at Cartoon Network have been most understanding and supportive as always. They enthusiastically contribute ideas and suggestions which help us to make our products the best we possibly can.  After “Amar Chitra Katha- The Animated Series” (2010), “Tripura” Telefilm (2011), “Sons of Ram 3D” (2012) – Theatrical film, now “Suppandi Suppandi- The Animated Series” is our fourth project together and looking forward to many more!

Do you feel the final look of Suppandi Suppandi has come out the way you envisioned it as a Director? And which is you favorite episode from the series?
Yes! We are extremely happy and pushing ourselves even more for the next round of episodes, making them bigger and funnier and even more chaotic!  Coming to my favorite episode, it would be “Bank Dacoity” because it is one of the episodes where the whole ensemble cast gets to shine!

Acting for Animation must have been extremely challenging for Suppandi Suppandi- Your Thoughts?
Suppandi is ACK Animation Studios’ first ’cartoon-y’ project until the short film Shikari Shambhu came into making. Before Suppandi, we had done Amar Chitra
Katha- The Animated Series, Tripura and Sons of Ram. All 3 of them had a more controlled production and animation style. Suppandi however demanded a very different approach. I wanted the animation to be as broad and over-the-top as justifiable. Subtle acting choices that went very well with Sons of Ram seemed minimal
for Suppandi. Hence, we kept it as broad, cartoony and pose-to-pose as possible on Suppandi.

Crafting catchy phrases and dialogues are the life line of any animated show, how was it for Suppandi Suppandi?
Dialogues definitely define the show!

The humor of Suppandi Suppandi has a strong local Indian flavor thanks to the humor and the references. It was fun giving characters punch lines like Shaitan Singh’s “Daka daal ke” or Heerachand’s (the rich miser) “Kul mila ke”. The writing team led by Divya Chandel did an excellent job of coming up with gags. However, the final lines are not limited to that. I would always encourage improvisation at the dubbing stage when the actor, dubbing director Eliza Lewis and I would brainstorm to make the lines even more funnier. Some of the most memorable jokes have come out of the spontaneous improvement at the dubbing studio.

Do you relate to any character of Suppandi Suppandi?
Smiles…Not really! Characters from Suppandi are caricatured and I doubt there is someone alive who is all of one character. They represent certain dimensions of our personalities and hence there is a little bit of Suppandi, Bunty, Sona, Moti, Heera, Hoshyaar, Shaitan and Dhenchu in all of us in various permutations and combinations. Some more, some less!

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