By Natalia Ningthoujam
New Delhi, May 31: Animation in India is still considered a technique rather than a medium to tell stories, says Suresh Eriyat, whose short film "Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk" was honoured with a National Award under the Best Animation Film category this year.
Eriyat, a veteran in ad-film making, says there are a lot of amateurs in the animation industry who are not aware of using the medium for storytelling.
"Today, animation in India is still considered as a technique than a medium of storytelling. When you consider it as a technique, you won't give it (the treatment) in terms of writing and evolving the ideas into a film... All those areas are amateurish," the founder and creative director of Studio Eeksaurus told IANS in an interview.
He believes that when it comes to animation feature films, distributors and producers like to play safe.
"Producers or distributors bet on films with mythological characters as they think they are known to the audience. If you are working on Hanuman or Krishna, at least there is a recall value. People know the character, so there is an audience. They always think safe," he said.
"If I make a film on Suresh as in a character, it could be action or comedy... It will not be accepted immediately because there is a fear factor associated with attempting unknown characters. They feel why would the audience go to watch the film," he added.
But he is hopeful that animation industry -- pegged at Rs.51.1 billion in 2015, according to a Ficci-KPMG report -- will grow gradually.
"Most of the feature film industry people think that animation is for children. Animation films can also be for other age groups. It will slowly open up. If you look at VFX-based films, they also took time to come up. It's a welcome change," said the 43-year-old.
Born in Tripunithura in Kerala, and now based in Mumbai, Eriyat likes to take India as an inspiration for his short films.
For instance, his award-winning film "Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk" is set in a coastal village, where the heat of Indian summer season, the stench of dried fish, the triumph of human endeavour against odds, the thrill of adventure, weave a story of a lonely fisher woman who lives her dreams through her hard-earned tuk-tuk.
"India inspires me. My subjects are always from this realm. Be it Indian folk, society, people and their traits, Indian habits, manners and diet, all these give me ideas," said the National Institute of Design alumnus.
Has he ever thought of approaching Indian celebrities to be the voice of his characters?
"No. As of now, most of our celebrities sound more like themselves than characters. For instance, Shah Rukh Khan will always sound like Shah Rukh Khan, and Amitabh Bachchan will always sound like Amitabh Bachchan. Their own personalities are reflected on their movie characters.
"In case of Hollywood, you don't hear them first. You hear the characters. I will never go for actors unless they are willing to breathe in life to my characters rather than breathing their life to my characters," he said.
He is geared up for his next short film titled "Tokri." "It is a complex project. We are shooting it currently. It will release by this year end. We have been working on it for seven years. It's a 12 minute-film," he shared.
Update: 31 May, 2016