The recently concluded two day ABAI Fest had quite a dedicated focus on original content creation which reflected in the topics for most of the panel discussions including the one on “Indian Animation Film Making ‘ The Journey and Road Ahead’ as well as “Pre Production Challenges ‘Making Short Form vs Long Form”
“Are we going to be a Philippines or a Japan?â€? Gitanjali Rao began with a comment on service work vs indigenous creation adding, â€?We have to make films that are very universal in appeal yet with a very local, cultural flavor. Indian Animation needs to belong to India and only then will the world give it respect.”
The panel was in complete agreement with Rao. Vaibhav who has been one of the most prolific Indian Animation professionals and has had major involvement in creating some very memorable characters like Pandu Mangal, Simpoo, Chulbuli, Birthday Bhoot and Buladi even out of TVCs, PSAs and Channel IDs shared with the audience that his studio was working on their own IP for the past few months and quite a lot of developments were on the cards.
Taking forward the topic of local flavor, Vaibhav emphatically stated, â€?We need to first make content for our (the Indian) audience and then think of global audiences. What will make our content stand out is when the language, humor, sensibilities, design etc are drawn upon from our local surroundings and culture.
Bollywood & the Unique Indian Style
Renowned film maker Govind Nihalani who is currently working on his animated feature Kamlu, spoke about Indian story telling and its uniqueness. â€?We all know the story that is narrated at the Ram Leela yet we go to watch it year after year because there is a different experience watching it, thatâ€™s the magic that lies in the telling of the storyâ€?
â€?Bollywood has taken some of that element and evolved it to another dimension, so much so that today, itâ€™s a globally recognized style of film making. The songs in our films as an element of narration are either plot driven or emotional experiences and I am sure their inclusion in our animated films are going to enhance their uniqueness,â€? he continued.
Talking about how the scenario had changed in India, Nihalani commented, â€?Earlier financers and distributors didnâ€™t care much about animation. But things have changed now, and there is a lot more interest in the market for animation content. This is why we have more than 60 animated features in the pipeline in India and even if half of these release in the next three years, CG is going to reign in India.â€?
â€?But we have to focus on originality and by that I donâ€™t just mean indigenous creation but original design. I must say that quite a few times, our artists come up with stereotypical character designs,â€? said Nihalani adding, â€?Students and artists have to be inspired and guided to think original.â€?
NIDâ€™s Sekhar Mukherjee, who has been for years mentoring and guiding students on original animation film making, made a call for a National curriculum in animation. â€?First and foremost we need to make teaching an attractive and feasible career choice for faculty,â€? said Mukherjee.
As vociferous as the panel on film making was about local flavor, the panel on was equally strong about their stance that India has a lot of pre production talent, the only thing being that its waiting to be discovered and it needs to be honed.
Amit Anand from ettaminA opined, â€?I feel that India has a lot of pre production talent, again it is more about identifying and grooming it.â€?
Art not restricted by budgets
The panelists seemed to give an idea that lack of talent pool or budgets, was not where the problem lied in dealing with pre production. Well known stylist and design expert PC Vikram shared that, â€?The solution lies in acknowledging the fact that great art, style or design is not dependent on budgets and it is more about having that conviction and inspiration to create great workâ€?
Until recently the only pre production work that has happened in Indian Animation has been for TVCs or for the few short films that have been created. It is only recently that the industry has been gripped by â€?Featuremaniaâ€™ How different is pre production going to be for large scale and long format as compared to short form?
â€?Not only do the research and detailing demand time, but also the pre production schedule is longer while working on features. With TVCs, there is a quick turnaround time and its very communication oriented,â€? pointed out Vikram Vetturi.
Even as the sessions came to an end, the charged atmosphere stayed on. And surely many of the artists and delegates including yourâ€™s truly went back more contented, more inspired and with a resolve to create content of their own.
Thanks ABAI for those pre production and original content sessions, the purpose was greatly served!