‘There were so many animation films Arnab Chaudhuri had in his head’

The yr 2013 was a major one for India on the Oscars with Arnab Chaudhuri’s Arjun, The Warrior Prince among the many 5 films in The Walt Disney Company’s checklist of submissions. It was entered in the animation characteristic class, a uncommon movie to seek out Disney’s backing contemplating it was not created however acquired by the studio on its acquisition of UTV, the unique producers. While India’s official entry, Barfi!, was mired in controversies, Arjun made it quietly to the lengthy checklist however sadly couldn’t progress additional on technical grounds. It had been launched on video on demand (VOD) earlier than the theatrical screening in Los Angeles, a rule neglected by the producers.

The Oscar problem aside, the movie featured in the official choice of virtually all the most important animation festivals in 2012-2013 be it Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Holland Animation Film Festival or Ottawa International Animation Festival. The director of this path-breaking animation characteristic movie and one of many largest champions of the Indian animation business, Chaudhuri handed away on December 25, 2019 in Kolkata. He was admired as a lot for his work as a tv skilled, and for his stint at Channel V and Turner.

Members of the Animation Guild, a consultant physique of animation artistes, writers and technicians, plan to get collectively on February 29 for the annual Afternoon of Remembrance in which they may honour these from the animation neighborhood who handed away in 2019. Chaudhuri might be considered one of them. Filmmaker Gitanjali Rao writes a tribute to a fellow animation artiste and buddy for The Hindu.

A visionary

I acquired to know Arnab by my animation associates from National Institute of Design (NID) again in the mid 90s. The suave, mild, gifted, assured and terribly enticing younger artist who was creating waves in Channel V with his very good work. Arnab was forward of his occasions. Not solely was his work authentic and imaginative, however the individuals who labored with him cherished and admired him. And that was uncommon.

I by no means acquired an opportunity to work with him though I attempted, years later, and so did he, however the tasks by no means got here by. We were a bunch of animators attempting for many years to make an excellent Indian animation characteristic movie again in the early 2000s when out of the blue, India had turn into a hub of low-cost although good backend work. We were a annoyed lot given the dearth of funds for animation films in India. But Arnab was the primary one to land with a very Indian movie to be created in India, an authentic India story, Arjun, The Warrior Prince with UTV. It was phenomenal!

Collaborative course of

My affiliation with Arnab grew when my associate KK Muralidharan labored with Arnab as manufacturing designer on Arjun, The Warrior Prince with his work associate Rachna Rastogi. The movie took many lengthy years to evolve and full. Six or extra, I’ve misplaced rely. From concept to completion. But for me simply the truth that I may watch this movie occurring was an enormous studying expertise. I’d hop on to my associate’s aspect for many a work-in-progress viewings. This was essential for me as I discovered so a lot in regards to the process of coping with so many artists to make the movie.

No one however animators know the immense quantity of labor that goes into creating a movie like Arjun, The Warrior Prince. Right from the script classes with author Rajesh Devraj, which were adopted by lengthy discussions, what I observed and nonetheless completely admire about Arnab was his skill to hearken to others. Always with endurance and generosity. He all the time ended up doing what he felt labored greatest for the movie however he listened and absorbed and labored round everybody else’s opinion.

It may look and sound straightforward however with animation it’s a really troublesome strategy to work in comparison with stay motion. An animation movie provides you no liberty with further takes on the time of enhancing the movie. What you intend to animate is what you will have in the top. Nothing extra, nothing much less. So the planning of the movie must be impeccable earlier than you begin animating the movie.

Arnab would contain all of the inventive HODs in the inventive course of and provides every one a affected person ear. And that I believe is the important thing cause why individuals who labored with him cherished him so a lot. ‘Fearless yet never aggressive’ as KK Muralidharan places it.

I clearly bear in mind the time when his animation director, Pavan Buragohain was designing characters. In the primary draft, all of the characters seemed completely Indian. They were exquisitely crafted out from inspiration from Indian actors in films pan Indian. I bear in mind the design of Draupadi was based mostly on Malayalam actor and danseuse Shobhana. And my, was she wonderful!

But quickly the corporate determined that the characters must feel and look worldwide and so the transient modified. It was an enormous disappointment to the workforce and many felt hopeless and disillusioned. But Arnab determined that if that was the one strategy to make the movie, then so be it.

Challenges of an animator

After having made my very own characteristic movie, I understand how troublesome and painful that call should have been for him however he took the appropriate determination given the constraints. This, I really feel is the predicament of pioneers. Arnab is the pioneer of Indian animation made to worldwide high quality but it surely all got here with a heavy value to pay.

And the value was not simply at a inventive degree. Animation is such a labour-intensive work, that to make a movie over five-six years entails that you don’t have any time to stay a life. You need to breathe the mission day and night time, together with weekends to only get just a few good seconds performed.

In the years following the discharge of Arjun, we regularly met and mentioned the difficulties of discovering finance for our personal films. He was pursuing the second a part of the Arjun trilogy as deliberate by him and Devraj. He had managed to make a trailer pitch, which seemed excellent. The movie didn’t discover its finance. The final time I met him, a bit over a month earlier than his stroke, all he mentioned when he hugged me was “You did it! You actually made your film!”

We are virtually the identical age, having managed to make our first movie makes nothing simpler I assume. There were so many animation films Arnab Chaudhuri had in his head, but to be made. Saying this can be a nice loss to Indian animation business can be to do a disservice to him. I’d relatively say (and I do know he would approve) that is no nation for animators.

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