Far away in the Arabian gulf of Bahrain, illustrator Sagar Taneja pours out his love for Bollywood through his sketches and arts. Having grown up in a family of Bollywood buffs, the bling naturally caught up with him too and today, with his caricatures of the stars from the industry, has garnered numerous followers of Facebook and other social networking platforms.
“I remember that my father, who is a hardcore Dev Anand fan, made me and my brother watch old Bollywood films when we were young. Growing up in Dubai, we watched every Hindi film in the cinema. My mother used to read Filmfare magazines and used to update us with all the related news. It was natural that we both became Bollywood buffs,” reveals Taneja, whose passion was later complemented by stars such as Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh after sharing his work on their official social media pages.
“My brother though, took his love for Bollywood a step further – he is now a producer,” as he exclaims. He then harks back to that eureka moment which inspired Bollywood South Park – “A couple of years back, I was working for a digital marketing agency in Mumbai, and we were handling the social media presence of Don 2. We wanted to create new and innovative content for social media but more importantly; I wanted to impress my boss and my team (being a fresher).”
“So I thought of animating Shah Rukh Khan’s character in the movie. Since I was a big fan of South Park that time, I then thought of making a South Park avatar of Shah Rukh!”
In case you weren’t aware already, South Park is a legendary American animated show that’s been airing since the last 20 years, and Taneja recounts how mesmerised he was left by their satirising of various real-life issues grappling the people. “I think that South Park is one of the greatest pieces of pop culture ever produced. I was just blown away by how they addressed some of the most relevant issues of our society through animation and humour that the show became my instant favourite.”
Being such a huge Bollywood junkie, the one actor that he endears is Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan, who he says, inspires to strive harder and also explains the reason – “The man is a legend! There is no actor in the industry that is as dedicated to his craft as he is. And this inspires me to put an extra effort whenever I work on any of his avatars. I think it’s probably the reason why all his avatars stand out.”
It’s easy to get amused by the art at the sight of it, but a lot surely goes into the making. Sagar Taneja follows a certain methodology while working on an illustration, and also ensures even the finest of the details are taken care of. He says, “It starts with finding the best possible image of the movie’s character that I am trying to make. I then use Adobe Illustrator to try to draw the outline and the body of the character just like it is in the image. For details like hairstyles and moustaches, I use my Wacom Intuos tablet. I finally add the finishing touches to the design in Adobe Photoshop.”
Despite the enormous efforts involved, Taneja also reveals the one project for which he had to walk the extra mile – “It has to be Jagga Jasoos. This was the first time I drew an animal! Making two characters itself is time-consuming, but making two characters sit on an animal, perfectly aligned, took me the longest time! It was totally worth it, though!”
In the three years and three months that Taneja started his venture, his work has gone on to feature in the BuzzFeed, CNN India, and even tabloids such as M.J Akbar’s The Sunday Guardian. Whilst that’s overwhelming, that certainly isn’t his most cherished memory. “The most cherished memory so far was when India Film Project invited me to do an exhibition of my cartoons at Nehru Center in Mumbai, earlier this year for which I couldn’t be more grateful. Looking at an entire wall of my cartoons made me feel like a true artist!”
And before signing off, any word of advice to all the aspiring illustrators and animators? “Make art that satisfies yourself, and don’t worry how people will perceive it. The most important thing is that you enjoy making the art; Don’t be shy to promote your art in any way. Share it on social media, tell people about it and proactively approach publications.”