Veteran filmmaker and ace animator Bhimsain Khurana passed away on Tuesday at a Mumbai hospital while undergoing dialysis (as told to IANS) at the age of 81. He was known for his amazing work in animation and films like Gharaonda (1977, won the Filmfare Award), Dooriyan (1979) and Ek Anek aur Ekta (1974) which has touched upon several significant issues of the middle-of-the-road cinema wave of the 70s and the 80s.
Born in Multan (then in Pakistan) in 1936, Khurana moved to Lucknow after the partition. Though he was always inclined towards arts and did study fine arts and classical music at the Lucknow University, he honed his artistic skills while working as a background painter at the Cartoon Film Unit of Films Division and later at Prasad Studios. He learnt animation under the legendary Ram Mohan, who is considered the father of Indian animation.
His first independent film The Climb (1971) won the Silver Hugo award at the Chicago Film Festival. The film’s title also gave away the name to his production house, Climb Films which has been running for 31 years now. With films like Na, Ek-Do, Munni, Freedom is a Thin Line, Mehmaan, Kahani Har Zamne Ki and Business is People, there has been no looking back for him since, as an esteemed director-producer .
Khurana is also credited for the first Indian computer-generated animation series Lok Gatha (1992, based on folk tales) that alone won him three national awards of his huge haul of 16.
He further directed and produced several animation and ad films. It was his genius at various animation techniques that came to define him. A retrospective of his animation films was held at Films Division as part of the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), earlier this year.
His films are also marked by great music, be it animation or live action, created by the likes of Jaidev and Vasant Desai such as the unforgettable Ek chidiya, anek chidiya (Ek Anek Aur Ekta), Do deewane sheher mein and Ek akela is sheher mein (Gharaonda). These continue to resonate even in these polarised times.
Khurana is survived by his wife, sons and their families.