How office lunch breaks inspired Rocket Science Animation’s series ‘RAT RACE’

Charity begins at home; and so do creative ideas. In this case, it was the workplace, but nonetheless, the source of a small idea that went on to become big- as big as a series. Gautam Singh and his team at Rocket Science Animation (RSA) sit together for lunch daily. It is a daily groove to joke around, tease and pull each other’s leg at the table. All kinds of discussions and debates happen as the employees are from various parts of the country, obviously with varied backgrounds and completely different outlooks. “Every lunch used to be so hilarious that we started thinking of creating something based on our own office scenario,” says Rocket Science Animation co-founder Gautam Singh, whose team created RAT RACE, an episodic comedy animation series which airs on Happii-Fi, the YouTube channel of SAB Group. “So we were inspired by people who work with us on everyday basis.” RAT RACE tells tales of quintessential workplace struggles of employees with their demanding boss. “The idea was born and co-incidentally at the time, SAB was starting its digital platform,” Singh shares. Through Singh’s contact with someone from the content team, the idea reached SAB but they were not able to visualise it. “We then decided to create a pilot whether anyone liked it or not, and sent it to the group.” The SAB team was so impressed with the content that they decided to be a part of it, and came on board as producers. The cost of production is borne by them and they co-own the IP with RSA. “The concept had a seamless match with Happii-Fi’s objective of offering highly differentiated humour content to the youth of India,” explains SAB Group group CEO Manav Dhanda. “And with the idea being fresh and relatable, the characterisation including their design, voicing, et cetera being fantastically showcased, the association with the team was apt.” Before SAB Group picked up the show for Happii-Fi, RSA had plans to produce it themselves. Due to a tight budget, they decided to keep the animation style minimal and simple. The series is animated in Adobe Animate, with After Effects CC for final compositing and rendering. Co-creator Vivekananda Roy Ghatak highlights, “The design for RAT RACE revolved around simplicity of execution and good clear exaggerated acting which could enhance the humour of the scripts and  make them even funnier.” The look and names of the characters of this 2D series are also based on the employees. “They all have their backstories. For instance, Guddu (from studio) who hails from a small village in Madhya Pradesh has a completely different take of life than this other Delhi guy who comes from a rich family,” Singh laughs. “The worries of the Delhi guy will be what food he should order while Guddu’s predicament is how he shall pay the month’s rent.” Guddu’s sense of humour is excellent and his snide comments on others are spontaneous and sharp. The same is hence incorporated in RAT RACE’s Guddu. The RSA team also wanted to add a studious and hard-working character who does not meddle in office politics and other affairs. Thus was born Nobin. Lead animator Atul Kharbanda elaborates, “I thoroughly enjoyed animating the characters as they are all based on my colleagues- Chunna (Shikhar), Guddu (Neeraj), Nobin (Nobin), Anil.K.Meena (Anil Meena) and Chugli (a fictional character), who mostly breaks the monotony of the story and makes it funnier.” Once the characters were set, they came to the stories. Again, the stories were picked from the situations that arose in the office. For instance, when the team shifted to a bigger office, there was only split AC and to save money, “we didn’t want to invest in another split AC. Hence we made everyone sit in the heat for a few days, and they used to grab a place where the cool air hit the most,” he recalls. Thus, the first episode – AC Ki Hawa – caters to the exact issue. Production on the show started in January-February this year and 19 episodes of the show have been rolled out on Happii-Fi yet. “RSA has made a mark in the animated arena in a very short span of time, having built an outstanding client portfolio and reputation to go with it. We look forward to continuing this association with a mutual vision of growing RAT RACE and developing lot more animated content for the channel,” reveals Dhanda. And as we read, members at RSA will be delving into another of their daily lunch session and probably taking down ideas on the paper for their next episode!