In Conversation with Rajesh Khele of Animationwala.com

Rajesh Khele, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts is the Founder and Director of Animationwala.com. Founded in 2010 & based in Pune, Animationwala.com is an animation boutique delivering animation services through consultancy, publication, education, development & event management. Rajesh has been in the Animation industry for over 21 years and worked on acclaimed animation movies and series. He has been associated with coveted projects like ‘Hanuman’, ‘Meena’ series by UNICEF, ‘The White Elephant for UNESCO’ and many more. Also, Rajesh was one of the Animation Designers for the first ever Animation Tool Kit containing study material to learn basic art of 2D animation. Recently, Rajesh has created 13 3D Paintings on Sant Dynaeshwar for Pune’s First ever 3D Exhibition held in July this year. AnimationXpress.com’s  Zeenia Boatwala had a conversation with Rajesh on his Journey in the Animation Industry & his secret of being so creative. Please take us through your journey in the Indian Animation Industry? My first break in the Animation Industry came at Ram Mohan Biographics where I worked for Amul Milk TVC as a background artist in the Animation Category. After completing my B.F.A, I found myself interested and inclined towards making documentary films & had confidence on my good illustration skills and with this confidence, I decided to approach Ram Mohan Biographics where I grabbed my first project. At RMB, I have contributed to more than 68 Tvc’s, 3 short films, including UNCIEF’s ‘Meena’ & UNESCOS ‘White Elephant’ as an inbetweener, clean up artist, key animator, layout and cell coloring artist. Working on all these projects at RMB wouldn’t have been possible without Ram Mohan Sir’s kind guidance and creative support throughout. The biggest asset that I cherish from RMB was to learn to make animation on a 35mm Film by which I developed a right direction and became more knowledgeable about fundamentals of film making & calculative approach for production. Keeping in mind these areas, I got an opportunity to work on digital platforms like Tic Tac Toon at Silvertoon, 2D Animated Feature Film ‘Hanuman’ & I would like to extend my gratitude towards V.G.Samant who provided me with official training of animated full length feature film making process After spending 11 years at various studios, I was thinking to get into animation business, and so with the help of a few colleagues, I started  a small animation studio named UVC at Tardeo & it’s during that time, Ram Mohan and Alice Manual from UTV approached me to make animated characters that will do anchoring of a Music based program. While working on this music based program, I found quite a lot of manpower shortage and so I geared up to design various course curriculums during 1998-2000 for developing artists for our Indian Animation Industry. After a successful venture in training market as well & with my 18 years of experience in the industry, I started my own proprietorship firm called ‘animationwala.com’. You’ve created 13 3D Paintings for on Sant Dynaeshwar for Pune’s First ever 3D Exhibition? Could you take us through its process? What inspired you to choose Sant Dyaneshwar for portraying 3D Painting Art? Within all these years I spend in the Animation Industry, I have realized that animation in India has a straight competition with live action film market where face value works a lot. Audiences are still very much new to accept original animation content as far as entertainment is concerned here in India so while making an animated content, affordable budget & ROI are crucial areas to be considered. Secondly, acceptance of mythological, spiritual stories is large in India because every territory is having there own likes and dislikes, humor, appreciation patterns. Thirdly the literature value of various Saints in India is having universal appeal into it. Their teachings are still applicable in today’s world and years to come in the future. They had covered subjects like sociology, nature, psychology, science and every aspect which we explore to know more about it today. It has got an educational value too & I believe, this angle inspired me to produce 13 stereoscopic 3D Pictures of Saint Dyaneshwar as original content on the occasion of ‘Ashashi Eakadashi’ and ‘Guru Pournima’ which is celebrated largely in Maharashtra state. 3D Stereoscopic content is the USP to attract various age groups of people specially the kids, teenagers and youth &  3D effects connect the viewer with a particular subject .This exhibition is one of the experiments for me as far as content creation is concerned. Feedback for these paintings was really good and it motivates me to make 20 more pictures. My colleague Ranjan Prabhu helped me to achieve 3D effect in pictures. Tell us about Animationwala.com, what does it focus on? At animationwala.com, we cater animation services through consultancy, publication, education, development & event management division of my boutique. We believe that students, who wish to pursue animation as a career, need to work on live projects directly and develop the creative judgment with learning entrepreneurship qualities to become successful. Generally, every project which we undertake is a new experience as far education is concerned. Project pipeline, deadline, production design, economics behind the project are the key areas which we experiment and focus on for delivering best product and achieving customer satisfaction. In short, I love to work on the basis of ‘Demand & Supply’ of the market & for this, I prefer to work on satellite studio concept, make specialized people / studios involved and get production completed and delivered to the customer. Parallel to this we have documentation process done of every small or big project which we undertake. I write for animation in my vernacular language too. We also share this with every common man who is not involved in animation field. This wonderful way of doing things is the only difference; I feel we have at animationwala.com             Please share your work for the full length 2D Animation movie’ Hanuman’ Initially, I was a background artist for Hanuman & later, I got a chance to be the Head of Department of that Division and was involved in the Process of Art Direction in Co Ordination with the Film Director. Could you put light on your work done for Illustrated ‘Meena’ series by UNICEF? Meena was designed by Ram Mohan in the year 1992-93.My role in Meena was to design Illustrations to justify the look and feel of the series. I had to prepare illustrations of Meena, her family background, the village she stayed and the properties from Bangladesh & I designed all these concept artworks with the direction of Ram Mohan. Can you inform more about your role in ‘The White Elephant’ for UNESCO? The White elephant’, was an Indian story & Micky Patel was the Lead Designer of the film. He had given Indian miniature paintings styling to the film & also used opaque poster colors, color pencils, oil pastels, sketch pen, marker as medium to design it. I was the layout & background artist as well as an animation artist for the dream sequences of this film. With this film, I developed deep knowledge and sense of experimental animation film making. The biggest lesson I learned out of ‘The White Elephant ‘was to understand to the perfect blend between budget, time management & creativity for creating a movie. We would love to know more about “Twinkle Toons”? ‘Twinkle Toons’ is a Music video album, produced by Orion Studios, Pune, was made by 2D hand drawn and digital animation technique. We had animated around 10 famous Marathi children’s songs. For stage performances, we projected animated songs on 70 mm screen and songs were sung live by singers on stage. Twinkle Toons were made available on DVD’s & CD’s for sale too. Take us through overall idea of the Animation Tool Kit? Animation Took Kit was designed by me in 2003.The purpose of this kit is to cater to the student community willing to develop their 2D skills. The kit is a combination of Light box, Self Study Material, Demo Cd, Animation papers, Exposure sheets, Drawing Stationery, Sample Flip Book, etc. Till date, students from Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Delhi & Chennai have used this kit which, I believe is the basic fundamental exercise one practice to be a successful Animation. Can you brief us about your 2D Animated “Garden of stories”, a DVD of short films for Manashakti Prayog Kendra? ‘Garden of Stories’ is a series of five animated short films and an animated song based on moral stories written by Swami Vidnyananand. We released this DVD in Marathi as well as English language too. What targets did you set being an animation student? Well, the target was to achieve perfect combination between Art of Storytelling & right technology to deliver animated content for various industries as demand and supply cycle. Which opportunity do you consider as a turning point of your career? Well, the turning point, I believe is when I realized the importance of education & to nurture this thought, started UCV training centre and conducted various animation seminars. What motivates you to deliver a bundle of Animation Delight?  I ‘eat, sleep & drink’ animation & various age group people’s expectations for entertainment push me to design & deliver a bundle of animation delight. Animation for you is? ‘Beautiful’ literature can be picked up, make it more ‘beautiful’ in terms of ‘story telling’ for you as well as for others. Do you think, it’s time now for people to change their thinking and view Animation as a passion and not just a job-Your Views? Well, People need to develop ‘Entrepreneurship’ qualities to become successful. Could you elaborate more on the idea behind “Drukashravya Animationayan”? When can our readers attend the upcoming sessions? “Drukashravya Animationayan” is a talk show. The show elaborates deeply on areas related to animation art & cinema, it’s history, aesthetics, literature value, creator’s interviews & point of view, vertical applications of animation, career perspective, IPR & it’s regulations, Showcasing original animation content Q/A sessions…etc. This show highlights animation as an art, science, business & commerce, in short the talk show is all about ‘Animation field ki Ramayana’. How do you see your Animationwala.com contributing to the Indian Animation in the coming years? More than film making, Animationwala.com desires to cater multimedia services to other industries as per ‘Demand and Supply’ basis. Animationwala.com will design possibilities to create opportunities for visual communication design industry. What’s your vision and dream for the Indian Animation Industry? Its to establish World class animation university with R&D unit  for visual communicators where, every tribal art people, folk tale artist, story tellers, designers, musicians, technology experts come under one roof and make films, games out there is my dream project. In other words, I will love to have Animation Park where all types of animation business find scope / opportunities to grow and fertilize true animation culture in India. From your vast experience what message would give to the aspirers of animation? Health is Wealth! So my dear animation artists & entire fraternity, please find time to take care of yours health well in time. All the very best! Would you like to add anything else? This interview and other material of Animationxpress.com should reach to more & more non animation category readers so do share Animationxpress.com to your friends, family, relatives too. connect@animationxpress.com