Ice Media Lab’s bengali animated short, ‘Lyaad’ truly depicts why it’s the best boon a bong can get!

If one asks me, what would give a true-blooded bong solace apart from Mutton Biryani and ‘Bhaat Ghum’, my answer would definitely be ‘lyaad khawa’. Being a resident of eastern and sweeter region of India, we tend to ‘eat’ everything – from water to cigarettes to even lyaad.  Lyaad is an emotion for Bongs, and it probably just got portrayed on screen beautifully in the musical animated short film, Lyaad produced by Ice Media Lab, a digital first content shop working with vernacular languages stories. Clearly, its tagline is a big win and resonates so well with the bengalis –  Lyaad : The best boon a bong can get! Lyaad, a verb, means “doing nothing” and being in a voluntary slumber-state. It is a way of doing nothing effortlessly, yet never feeling bad about it. This film also marks acclaimed Bengali actor Ritwick Chakraborty’s foray into animation. Chakraborty has been the protagonist of three national award-winning films in three consecutive years.  Helmed by notable national award filmmaker Pradipta Bhattacharya, Lyaad is a musical journey of a man, Kinkar, who’s bogged down with the corporate workload, courtesy his boss who’s no less than a devil and an ever-demanding wife. Stressed personally and professionally, he looks for some solace in an unlikely ally. Raja Da, the king of ghosts (Bhooter Raja) appears to give Kinkar the boon of ‘lyaad’ that’s missing from his life and what follows is a hilarious roller coaster of an epic slumber and a trip to fantasyland!   The concept of Lyaad stemmed out over a lazy Sunday afternoon skype ‘adda’ between a Bengali tech geek Shankar Seal in Seattle and his musician friend Anirban Ajoy Das in Kolkata. What followed next is 65 days of madness and meticulous animation to execute the animated ride. 
Pradipta Bhattacharya
Talking to AnimationXpress, Bhattacharya revealed, “When the producers Ice Media lab came up with this concept to do something around ‘lyaad’, I knew I have got something exciting and  fun to work upon-something that is very different to what I was doing all this while! I wanted to do it in stop motion animation as I have keen interest in that space and wished to do some good work in this medium. Being initially associated with multimedia animation and those stuff, after this opportunity came after a long time, I decided to keep a 3D background, a part stop motion character and live character and visualised the entire thing.From the very word Lyaad.” Bhattacharya is extremely respected in the Bengali film industry for his critically acclaimed films like Bakita Byaktigato and recently released Rajlokkhi-O-Shrikanto.  Released last Saturday, 11 January 2020, on YouTube, Lyaad is conceptualised by Seal; edited by Bhattacharya; produced by Debojit Saha and Ambarish Majumdar of ICE Media Lab.  Mentioned Das in an official press note, “The arrangement of the song is in the jazz blues genre with a flair of hip-hop intonations! However, the sound design is very distinctively different from a regular jazz number though.” The animation style is unique and interesting which has rarely been seen to be used rampantly in the animation industry or  in the Bengali film industry. The much efficient team used software like Maya, After Effects for 3D animation and hand painted stuff for 2D frames. “We have used 2D and 3D for backgrounds mostly and majorly stop-motion. It’s a mixture of 2D, 3D, hand painted frames. Since budget and time both are quite less, thus I used animation to the best of my ability within that radius. I collaborated for Lyaad with Ritwick more so, to check the bandwidth of what kind of work, rather good work can be done in this format within the limited budget, as I have planned a serious serious short animated film. Thus, this film acted as a learning experience for me as how to utilise and stylise animation techniques in stringent timing and finances, yet make the content interesting,” added Bhattacharya. Chakraborty expressed to us, “Quite contradictory to Lyaad, the making of the film was very challenging given the special format of the film. This is the first time I’m acting in animation and that too in a new technique. This is what fascinated me to accept this offer. The technique is very interesting as it’ll be shot in Croma later and I had to think what to do where and when. So, I had a creative contribution towards it.”
Debojit Saha
Commenting about the partnership, ICE Media Lab creative head and managing partner Saha said, “Our collaboration with a creative wizard like Bhattacharya expresses our deep interest to do premium content catering to regional diaspora across the world. With the current digital ecosystem, our content lab is working relentlessly towards enabling seamless harmony between craft, science and business. We have exciting days coming up!” The rest of the team that worked on Lyaad include –  Music and Lyrics : Anirban Ajoy Das Singer: Dibyendu Mukherjee  Animation: Amit Kumar Bagchi Cinematography: Rana Pratap Karforma  Associate Director: Arunava Mitra Line Producer: Soumen Mitra “When Pradipta who was a batchmate approached me for Lyaad I was a bit surprised as use of animation in a Bengali short film was something unheard of. Then I spoke to the guys at Ice Media Lab and got a clear picture of what they were trying to do as the producers. This was going to be the first Bengali short film involving a live action character and animation. We used extensive hand drawn imagery as background and then converted them in software to get a multilayered background and the compositing with the real character was done using after effects. This was a tough job to achieve given the time limitation and the restricted budget in the short film ecosystem. The film is now available in ice media lab’s YouTube channel for people to see,” Bagchi told AnimationXpress.
Amit Kumar Bagchi
Amidst the fun and quirk and Chakraborty’s effortless acting as Kinkar, Lyaad subtly delivers a message that’s strong and very important – about doing NOTHING and taking a break sometimes. It’s okay at times to switch off your tensions and enable your ‘LYAAD MODE’ to escape from the daily monotonous routine. So take a break, make your ‘LYAAD MODE ON’ as life in the land of ‘Lyaad’ is amazing as “Nothing happens, nobody comes, and nobody goes…!” All hail, Lyaad!