#FeatureFriday: Totem Creative’s animated short, ‘Paperplanes’ will fly down our memory lane

School! The word takes you down memory lane and you can see those benches making a seat for you, paper planes flying around the classroom, teachers scolding at their highest pitch of  voice, friends passing notes in between classes and of course the farewell day when the walls of the classroom finally waved you a goodbye. It was a home which taught us the moral values of life, it taught us how to be human, how to turn friends into family and how to share and care. With overflowing school memories, we have locked some bags then. But after years now, Totem Creative is unzipping the backpacks of those school memories. The studio plans to show the current changing education system. With the growing competitive spirit, not just with kids but also the parents, the race to stand first is only speeding up. We sure are generating intelligent minds, but the creative innocent side is taking a back seat, afraid of the racing world in front of it. Totem Creative is a Mumbai based animation studio which is producing its own 2D animated short film. The short titled Paperplanes tries to highlight creativity and innovation, whilst also hinting at how our education system intentionally or unintentionally devalues it. The short brings in light the unique, creative spirit of the kids. It makes way to the ‘out of box’ thinking which we lose on our journey to adulthood. The team at Totem puts a finger on the dull schooling pattern and the over-the-top expectations of teachers and parents. It helps in encouraging the young generation to strive for more than what is expected of them.
Nikhita Prabhudesai and Arvind Singh Jeena
The title takes us all down the memory lane, making us hop in the corridors of our schools and run in the freshly mowed grass on the school ground. “Our film opens with a bunch of kids flying paper planes in a classroom. Paper planes symbolize innocence and fun, and are a metaphor for flight or freedom. Besides the meaning of the word, we also felt that it had a nice ring to it,” expressed co-director Nikhita Prabhudesai. The film is the brainchild of director Arvind Singh Jeena. He visualised the story for his graduation film at MIT, but then it required a bigger team with collaborative efforts. After the birth of Totem, Jeena and Prabhudesai found the right atmosphere to develop the film. Prabhudesai shared the synopsis and the pre-production sketches of the film exclusively with AnimationXpress. The synopsis unfolds like this: Kids are innocent, curious and innovative by nature. We learn about a chaotic bunch of fourth graders who are caught off guard by a surprise test which is a creative challenge that will test their caliber and reveal their most honest self. The duo has a special liking for 2D animation and is very keen on producing the film in the same medium. “2D animation is incredibly beautiful to watch, and has a very organic, rich feel to it. As far as our story is concerned, we think it’s quite effective as a medium for the audience,” Prabhudesai said. But like the saying goes, every coin has two sides and every medium has its pros and cons. Though the 2D technique looks pleasing it has its own challenges to produce. Prabhudesai finds it a great experience working on something that is solely theirs.  Though the story is written and conceptualised by Jeena with story-boarding and co-direction done by Prabhudesai, the interns Deepthi Ranjan, Pradeep shankar and Pragati Kandoi also gave a hand at visualising the story and setting the colour-scripts for the film. The team plans to release the film in animation festivals in India and abroad and later on online platforms like YouTube and Vimeo around January 2019. With collaborative efforts from the team of Toem Creative, we are going to experience the ‘Paperplanes’ flying back again in our memory lane!