“Once you are entering into the world of animation then everyday will be animation day.”
This is what India’s leading animation screenwriter Vivek Shukla feels about the beautiful world of animation.He is a freelance screenwriter for animation, live action T.V. shows, feature films and an Indie filmmaker. Known for working for projects like Chimpoo Aur Simpoo (ZeeQ), Akbar Birbal (Discovery Kids),Bunty aur Billi for Toonz Animations (Hungama TV – Disney),Eena Meena Dika for Maya Digital Studios (Hungama TV – Disney),King Vikram for Disney India he is one of the very few writers who are specialised in the art of animation screenwriting in India.
As a person he’s a crazy, creative, charged up and an intellectual who loves to smile and laugh a lot. Animation Xpress’s Swati Panda spoke to screenwriter Vivek Shukla who unleashed a whole bunch of creative and animated thoughts on International Animation Day
According to Vivek, the definition of animation is liveliness and it covers everything one sees around. To write for animated series, he used to find innovative techniques like playing with a pencil to relate to the stories of a pencil and eraser or with a pen and a paper, shoes, bicycle etc. He feels it totally depends on your perspective of seeing these objects and how you experience the liveliness. One can put life in animals or even nonliving objects by imagination. His favourite animated character is Mickey Mouse and he found him a very cute and sweet friend and not a bully.
“Every kid who loves a character whether it is a living or non living thing he wants to connect or relate with it somehow. This is a psychology basically. So when someone connects it has to be friendship between them. And I always loved Tom, because he was bullied by Jerry all the time “, says Vivek
Donald Duck is another of his favourite character and he was also fascinated with few Indian animated films for public awareness like Ek Aur Anekta. Those were days when animation gave the feeling of awe.
“Whatever I used to see as kid, I would also imitate them. I used to love reading comic book and even created my own comic books. I believe that if you love to eat something it is better you learn to cook it. That’s the true love for that thing.”
Writing for animated shows which present the world of kid despite being an adult is quite challenging. Vivek who has a childlike enthusiasm shared added, “To be a child one has to bend, lie down on the floor and see the smallest thing in the world. That’s an exercise. It helps you to bend and see the tiny world around you.”
When he got an opportunity to write for animation then he realised that it his true calling because he felt that he never wanted to write for Saas Bahu shows.
Shukla says, There are two problems in animation screenwriting. One is monetary, other is audience. There is no channelised audience. They are there but we had to find them. Animation had just started in India in the time I started writing. It was very hard. It was like traveling a beautiful journey all alone without money.But I enjoyed the whole process.”
During theatre days, he downloaded the script and started reading it like a comic book just for curiousity. It taught him how to write,explore and evolve.He is self taught man and never attended any script writing school.
Cinema Paradiso is an Italian film which won Oscar for best foreign language film. It keeps on inspiring him and he goes back reading it several times. Its live action film about a kid who wants to be a filmmaker. This film inspired him and he downloaded its script and it taught him how to write.
Vivek’s journey of animation writing started with Chhota Bheem. He wrote a couple of episodes but he moved on because it was a very format show, however it was a good learning experience.At that time he came across Disney’s Vikram, Adventures of Bal Hanuman.
The pressure of time and lack of liberty creates gallows in animation screenwriting process. In animation, it sounds like you can do anything want but it is not like that. There is a process of production where you can’t use more than four moving or animated characters in a frame.
In live action one can write whatever wants and they will easily change it while shooting. In animation one can’t do so. One has to write whatever is going to be seen there. An animation screenwriter can write live action easily but a live action writer has to go through a lot of pain.
Animation screenwriting is one of the most amazing subconscious thing to write. Vivek loves psychology and it is his favourite subject which he uses in his writing as well. One has to be clever enough to use it as per requirement like a play or a game.
As Vivek evolved in animation, he found working in animated show ‘Eena Meena Deeka’ which was his first project. Here he worked with international writer Richard Dinnick who is a BAFTA Award winner. Both of them co-wrote for the show.It was a chase comedy with no dialogues. One has to write just action and no gags. It has to be funny, out of the box and one has to write the whole script of 7 minutes in not more than two and half pages.
Vivek says, “Its like your hands, legs, everything has been tied up yet you have to jump but still it is a fun and interesting process.” Vivek takes around two to three days to develop one episode.
For the animated series, Bunty aur Billy, you will laugh or be surprised to know that Vivek made miniature dolls kind of things for the character. He created a small world as per the details given by the channels and studios.Then he put the character in one room to check if something happens then what is the consequence of the action.
According to him, it shows the animation in front of you it opens the mind. He did that specially for Bunty Aur Billy but he could not do it for Eena Meena Dika because he was one of the writers and had to go there specially and discuss.
For Bunty Aur Billy, the production studio was at Kerala so he got the liberty to do his own experimentation since he was all alone. It was an interesting thing to create a small world in real and moving them in his house. People at his house started calling him crazy and that he’s behaving like a kid but it worked that way.
Chocolate World was a story for Chhota Bheem series and it was in his mind since childhood. He got inspiration from the film Chota Chetan. In a song the kids jump into a huge cup of vanilla icecream and dip in it and eat it. He wanted to do something like this since childhood. The makers of Chota Bheem congratulated him saying even the makers could not think about it.
Bal Hanuman was a corporate product with dos and donts and had less liberty for a writer. They used to give him a list of monsters. What kind of monsters Bal Hanuman can beat and these kind of stuffs. If one is choosing something like that where one knows what is going to happen next then there is no fun in writing.
For King Vikram he got a lot of liberty to think, because he told them clearly that he needs liberty to imagine. Here he got that liberty.
Animation Industry is evolving because now everyone can see easily available content on the phone. There is a huge market and there are very few writers across the sea. It has to be channelised. People are still not aware of what to do and what not to do to get into this field. Vivek feels that it will take time for people have to come forward to make their own IPs though the process has already started.
Currently, he has started his own organisation called “Ka Kha Ga” which is an interactive writing technique which also works as a creative therapy for disabled and non disabled people. This technique will help people create stories without pen and paper by just using imagination with other senses like touch, smell, sound.He is also developing a new show which has not been named yet. It is about a princess Ananya who has a big palace that is magical with lots of ancient mysteries around us.
This is Vivek Shukla’s mantra for budding animation screenwriter-“Be more crazy, talk to shoes, animals, non living things. You will get a story.”