Indian animation legend R L Mistry bids adieu; industry mourns loss

Source: TOI

Another legend bids adieu! Professor Raman Lal Mistry, a veteran of the Indian Animation industry, passed away on Tuesday evening in Ahmedabad. A former faculty at National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad, Mistry was 77. 

Regarded as a pioneer of animation education in India, Mistry is best-known for his signature work – the Doordarshan logo animation – known to millions across the country. The iconic logo was designed by NID alumnus Devashish Bhattacharya along with eight of his friends after Doordarshan moved out of being a subset of its parent company, the All India Radio (AIR) and decided that it wanted its own symbol which would be a visual rendering of its independent identity. 

The animation for the symbol was done by Mistry, also a National Institute of Design student. He made copies of Bhattacharyya’s sketches and shot them with a camera. He rotated the images till they reached the final form, also known as the popular ‘DD Eye.’

Saddened by his demise, NID director Praveen Nahar paid homage to Mistry on Wednesday along with the fraternity. He said, “He was a man of few words and a pioneer of animation education. He was one of the first teachers of animation at NID, who has inspired and shaped so many animators in India.”

R L Mistry

An alumnus of Faculty of Fine Arts of MS University of Baroda, Mistry  completed his PG diploma from NID and joined the reputed institute as a junior designer in 1969. He retired as associate senior designer in 2003. Later, he was associated with NID and many other institutions as visiting faculty. 

Deeply saddened and shocked by his demise, the industry mourns the loss of one of the visionaries in the Indian Animation space. Here’s what they shared with Animation Xpress –

Toonz Animation CEO P Jayakumar :

Prof. Mistry was undoubtedly a pioneer and a father-figure for animation in India. We had the honour of hosting him for the Animation Masters Summit in 2019, where he was honoured with the Legend of Animation Award. The whole Toonz family was so excited to have him in our midst, and his session at the Summit was a big hit. We will miss him badly. It is a great loss for the animation fraternity in India.

IIT Bombay IDC professor Nina Sabnani :

I am saddened by the passing of a warm, generous person, a colleague for many years at NID, who was loved by his students. A quiet man of few words he knew what to say  and when. His work spoke for him and through it he encouraged and motivated generations of students. He will be dearly missed and remembered.

Industry veteran and Punnaryug Artvision founder-CEO Ashish Kulkarni :

Sir R L Mistry’s demise is a great and irreparable loss to our creative industry. He was not only an animator, designer, filmmaker, educator, storyteller but a great human being. We will never forget the wonderful Doordarshan logo that he created. May his soul rest in peace. 

Climb Media founder and filmmaker Kireet Khurana :

I had the honour of first interacting with the amiable and humble R L Mistry way back in 1992, when I visited NID for the first time. He was a super-committed faculty, a great inspiration for the talented students. In his passing, we have lost one of the tallest animation doyens who have supported and built the industry’s talent.  

Eeksaurus Studios founder and popular animator Suresh Eriyat :

R L Mistry was my teacher in the animation department at NID who I could fearlessly approach during my student days and he would always comfort me when I was tormented with my own struggles, with the most casual yet reassuring words accompanied by a hearty smile and his typical head shake…Today he left us abruptly. I feel a deep sense of inexplicable incompleteness and void as I regret not being in touch with him since two years. My prayers and gratitude RL.

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Vaibhav Studios founder Vaibhav Kumaresh :

It’s indeed sad that we lost a beautiful, simple soul – especially more so due to the pandemic situation. It just leaves us all a bit helpless. RL as we fondly called Prof. RL Mistry was a very dear Guru to me. He was a very simple person with a childlike curiosity and a twinkle in his eye that I can never forget. He always reminded me of my dad.

RL was my guide during my final graduation film at NID. It was he who gave me the enterprising idea to scan and color the film digitally. He offered me the basement at his home in Ahmedabad to work, and with his son Dipu Mistry guiding me technically and aunty [Mrs. Mistry] treating me to some yummy home made snacks, I created one of my most enjoyable student films. Ever since I have been very close to RL and family. It was always a pleasure to visit them during my Ahmedabad trips, discuss work, seek his guidance, blessings and encouragement and of course eat aunty’s heavenly home food!

With his simple and encouraging guidance, he would wipe out every hurdle in his students’ minds. I shall forever be grateful to him and I’m sure he will continue to smile with that lovely twinkle in his eyes wherever he is.

Image shared by Vaibhav Kumaresh

Studio Zeng founder and animator Amalendu Kaushik :

RL Mistry Sir was a man of few words with a very unique style of drawing and was a very humbled soul. We were very lucky to have interacted and attended his course on ‘drawing for animation’ where we learnt the fundamentals and how to loosen up with sketching and motivated us to draw more from life.

Mistry Sir was one of the legends of Indian Animation and his contributions to the Animation department at NID is invaluable. His iconic ‘National highway’ PSA film got us really inspired as students, it was ahead of its time as an experimental and abstract visual piece of animation with a very serious message. 

He was also known as the oxberry man for his introduction and involvement with the giant oxberry camera which was used to shoot the animation films back in the 80s. He will be dearly missed by the animation community. He will continue to inspire us and a guiding spirit to carry forward this legacy.

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SRFTI student and animator/filmmaker Suchana Saha :

RL Sir explained things with such simplicity, that everyone understood it. He brings the best self of every student. His works have an unique graphical style, simple and bold. It motivates me a lot. He inspired an era of Indian Animation.

A personal incident I would like to share about Sir. I did a classical animation from a point of view of a cockroach under the door. He saw it and told me to play it again. After playing three to four times, he pointed out four to five random frame numbers out of at least 200 frames and told me to change them to make it perfect. I changed them according to his instruction and was awestruck. I wondered how could someone tell so easily the exact frame numbers. It was a miraculous experience for me, as I have never seen anyone do that. He was also very aged during this time and could hardly hear. But he could see the exact frame numbers. His legacy will live on forever. 

Independent animator and BET Awardee 2019 Divakar Kuppan :

It’s a huge loss to the Indian Animation and the entire animation fraternity mourns the loss of such an inspirational person, R L Mistry. He has played a huge role in nurturing a generation of amazing animation talents. His film National Highway is a very strong example of visual storytelling with the right visuals. I found him through The story of Indian Animation series. Sadly, I never had a chance to meet him in person but I’m sure his idea will stay alive in each of us for the generations to come. His book, Animating an Indian Story to every budding animation students and enthusiasts.

Legends like R L Mistry are immortalised in our hearts and his amazing contribution to the industry.