Monday, June 21, 2021

Remembering Dad

 People who know me well are aware that I often end up bringing  people I love into my work as characters. This is true of both animation films and especially book illustrations.Sometimes these characters are full fledged roles like our friends Arvind & Kusum in The Grand Chapati Contest or Sumant Rao as 'Nature Uncle' in the recently released 'Ishaan's Treasures' if they fit the bill. They are most often guest appearances and walk by cameos. This has been so since the earliest projects.. so colleagues, friends, my own humble self and of course the family! show up in my work. 

This is not a deliberate exercise, it happens when it does and gives me great joy when doing it. It also makes the scene more real for me, the pose and posture of the character no longer needs to be imagined, but just 'seen' or merely remembered to be drawn and and is obviously more authentic... In the earlier mentioned  'Ishaan's Treasures', my late father-in-law, Tabla maestro Pt. Sudhir Sansare made an unexpected appearance on the beach coz it felt like he had gone for a stroll there... Instead of some random character it became him. I have only met him a couple of times and he passed away long before I married his daughter :)

Yesterday many people celebrated 'Father's Day' by remembering and paying tribute and notes of love to their dads... Jyotika, my sister was inspired to create an entire song which was filled with genuine feeling. The little video with pictures of her and papa was indeed a touching tribute and made one remember him intensely. 

Papa, Shri PremKumar Sharma passed on in 2013. 

Often, even as late as last week, I feel like he is back home... tinkering away with something, mostly a tune and calling my sister cute made up names.. 

Especially in my baby steps into the world of classical music, I wish he was around even more... As a parent he didn't force me to learn music tho he tried and gave up when he found his child more interested in "kaagaz kaale karna" (literally: blackening paper ie drawing)... (Its not that I wasn't interested in music, drawing and comics offered a far greater pull to my imagination.. but its a whole different story for another time)

As I was seeing her song I suddenly remembered all the times He has popped up in my illustration work, whether from the first 'role' I gave him as Nandbaba (5) in The Karadi Tales KRISHNA books from 2000, or the many cameos of him walking around (usually with Jyo in his arms) in the pages (worlds) of   1] Miss Moochie's 'FRANK GOES TO THE MARKET' 2017 2] RAMU AT THE FAIR' (2) 2019, 3] The Mangrove Foundation's ISHAAN'S TREASURES 2021, 4] Complan CRICKET BOOK 1999, 6] Duckbill's THE GRAND CHAPATI CONTEST 

I suppose your loved ones live and breathe through you... whether in your work or in your memories, they are always alive. Today someone remarked on seeing Jyotika's video that I resemble my dad... as the years pass this is probably a son's legacy... to look into his father's eyes when he sees even himself.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Illustration Album: The Sweet & Spicy Sweetshop!! 2018


This book by Nandini Nayar had a very enjoyable story which had some nostalgic elements of a small time life, a delightful array of pastries and namkeen and some suspense and adventure to top it! The pictures were all in Black n white with the cover in color. Thanks to the Penguin team for giving me the opportunity!

The rough cover design

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Animagic gets 'UNREAL'!! Our first film in 3D!

 So it's up!! We are very excited to present something totally different!!! Gayatri found herself in the Epic Games-Unreal Fellowship 1st ever Women Creators Program in India!

She was among the 21 creators selected who came from diverse backgrounds from programming, 2D animation - 3D animation, virtual production, Cinematography, producing etc..

They were introduced to the amazing Unreal engine and expected to come up with a film in the 4-5 weeks of the program, while the Technical advisors taught them, problem-solved and guided them thru an amazing learning process. Gayatri had zero technical interest but encouraged by Vani Saraswati agreed to participate in this new world.

Of Course she had us (Prajakta and me ) along for the ride- all of us technical nincompoops!!
So we scratched our heads, tried to keep up with the flow of knowledge but (very importantly) make the film we wanted to make. We will share our adventure in greater detail later. But UGAM is a sort of peek into a project brewing in G's head for a looooong time... The theme of the fellowship was amazingly in sync with it and we found more and more correlations as we went ahead...

One of the most striking things about this program was how many difficulties were piled up- obviously the Pandemic- people had corona issues - some themselves -some had teammates dropping out due to illness etc (G herself had 2 deaths in her close circle, besides a hazaar bimaar who she had to help...) the various disruptions caused by the cyclone... internet connectivity and power outages... apart from the very challenging technical demands of learning something from scratch.. and make a film at the same time... for some, even the challenge of making their first ever film too!! And so many different creative ways of looking at a single theme!

Kudos to all the creators who survived and a big shout out to the EPIC team and all the mentors!For us it was wish fulfillment to see Agastya and Kaveri come alive!!
Congrats to G for sticking with the vision come hell or high-water (!)
Do watch all the other films of the program at the Unreal channel on Vimeo..
It is truly fascinating! and Surreal..Unreal...yay!! The future is here!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Tinkle star Shambu in new cartoons by Animagic!!

 The series of 10 Micro Shorts (>1 min) featuring Shikari Shambu (who was once a shikari-hunter- but is now a wildlife photographer!!) is a project really dear to me. I have always wanted all these popular characters who are now part of our collective memory to have their own cartoons which stay true to their personality and DNA ie. not make them into something they are not in the process of 'updating' them. So this was our honest sincere take on this beloved star of TINKLE comics.

Being a series of shorts, one could explore him as a real person in that even tho we have the great comic strips, how does he move how fast? how slow? what does he sound like? It was a great challenge!

And with the script ideas from Kuriakose Vasian and team to leap off, we were given tremendous freedom to imagine, design and execute our vision! Their excitement and glee at every stage kept our fires fueled!!
I have to thanks profusely the team at ACK/Tinkle esp Saju (the above mentioned Kuriakose Vasian), Tinkle editor Rajani Thindiath, Shambu's current caretaker Savio Mascarenhas and CEO Preeti Vyas for this gift. 🙂

On the art and production front, Gayatri and Prajakta weathered the storms alongside.. All the four legged inspirations - Shambho, Dumroo, Teddy, Jugni, Nanha, Bilwa and Omie - have to be particularly mentioned becoz you will see their attitudes modelled into Lions, Tigers, Tortoises and even monkeys! This was a sorta dream thing to do.. heck! I even got to play Shambu!! ;)))

The Music was very special to me as we really wanted a certain vibe that is still missing in Indian cartoons to a large degree. This was made possible by composer Chirag Panchal who has the spirit of the old masters in him for sure. The ever reliable Jyotika was at hand to oversee the music process and lend her sweet voice to the Title track!
All the design, storyboard, animatic, backgrounds and compositing and post was done inhouse @ Animagic!! ... but it was a challenge to find a production studio that could attempt the sort of animation we were looking for. This finally came in the form of Regh Animation studio who worked on the animation of most of the episodes. Thanks to Sangram Borse and his team which also included a few past animagicians!

While this has the seeds of a great opportunity, it really needs all your support to take it to its logical conclusion!! Please do share with all your friends and show that a market exists for this and many other childhood favorites to made into cartoons of the best quality possible.. This is only the tip of the iceberg!!

Do tune into the Suppandi and friends YOUTUBE channel for the 5 remaining cartoons premiering today from 7pm to 8pm every 15 mins!

Friday, January 31, 2020

"the Man who spoke in Pictures" Masterclass @ MIFF 2020

Please do join us in our homage to Shri RamMohan on Sunday the 2nd of February in the Mumbai International Film Festival ( #MIFF'20)
Screening of selected shorts from 11.30 am to 1pm @ RRIII theatre.
Masterclass by Chetan Sharma "The Man who spoke in pictures" @ RRIII theatre from 5.15pm to 8.30pm.
Please do come and spread the word to all who are interested in animation or filmmaking. This is a great opportunity to see a summary of a long creative life like no other..
Everybody in the animation community, this is a special request to all of you to come together to celebrate the life of one of the founding fathers of Indian animation. There is much to learn!! Please do share and support.
See ya there!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Padmashri RamMohan: The life of a Legend TASI session!

It a huge honour and overwhelming responsibility to curate this retrospective of Padmashri RamMohan presented by The Animation Society of India, TASI.
We hope it will become more than a lineup of his work, becoming instead, an 'Appreciation' of his ceaseless creativity as we show excerpts from a long career of nearly 60 years starting with the creation of Film' Division's Cartoon Film Unit in 1956 all the way to 2015!! and peppered with his sketches of characters, storyboards, concepts and anecdotes from key people concerned with these projects!!
Also with all the enthusiasm that we have gathered from speaking to his and our numerous colleagues, it promises to be a reunion of sorts for the very large RamMohan 'gharana' whose members drive a large chunk of Indian Animation today.
Please consider this post a personal invitation from TASI, The
Animation Society of India, Gayatri and myself to attend this event. 21 December, Whistling woods, Goregaon. 11 am sharp.
Please share and pass on to all who might be interested!! Its a free event!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

"On the Joy of Working with Children" Interview in the Hindu

Well... This interview was quite a pleasure as the reporter was actually interested in the work and asked meaningful questions... thats fairly rare.. 
A pleasant side-effect of the second edition of the Vizag Junior Literary Fest which I had the pleasure of participating in last month...

 click on the image to go the article

Monday, September 3, 2018

A hundred years ago! - Dadasaheb Phalke's Shri Krishna Janma form 1918!!

On this happy day I was made even happier by the discovery of this treasure on youtube!!! We live in lucky times! SO presenting Dadasaheb Phalke's presentation on Krishna's birth from 1918!!!!! Exactly a hundred years back!!One of the early pioneering efforts in Indian filmmaking, 'the film' is not complete but only a very small fragment 10% (less than six mins) of its original hour long length... 

And it is a silent film - jumpy-jerky-all over the place to our 'well adjusted to cinema spectacle' eyes... but its a wonder to behold nevertheless.. for me at any rate 
And as a bonus the video is combined with a fragment of another Phalke film - 1927's Bhakta Prahlad!!

Only sticking to Shri Krishna's theme for now -
Witness the harried people beseeching the Gods for help as Lord Vishnu reclined on Sheshnag with Devi Lakshmi and Brahmaji on the lotus emerge from the sea..Lord Vishnu 'shows' the suffering folk his intent.. he will incarnate as Shri Krishna, but transforming into the little child.. (this is a simple and great example of the visual language.. seems obvious but isn't)
Dadasheb Phalke's daughter Mandakini Phalke plays little Krishna in this as well the other epic "Kaliya Mardan" 1919
Then the fragments again 'show' Kamsa's hallucination.. yes.. this 'akashvani' or the warning from the ether is also shown in a brilliant sequence where Kamsa is overwhelmed by multiple Shri Ks of different ages who he tries to fight off in vain by slashing at air with his sword! 
But... before that is on of the great examples of visual effects in films, which stands well against the best being done anywhere in the world at that time ( incl George melies!!) Kamsa hallucinates or sees his head flying off his body in a geyser of blood!! "It is part of film lore that the blood in this trickshot was hand tinted red!" - Light of Asia -Indian silent Film edited by Suresh Chabria#currentlyreading - #serendipity)
I love this end of film title card... apparently the silent film was accompanied by actual singing of bhajans and aartis at the end of screening for the devout to get the full experience of having witnessed Shri Krishna!

Enjoy and salute the great pioneers on whose shoulders we stand -(or try to )