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Ram Mohan: Interview

Series on design masters in India:

“It feels good to have created a third generation of Animation in India”

Question: Having trained a whole generation of animators in India, how does it feel?

Answer: I have students all over the country like in Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hyderabad etc. And they are now training new students while some are teaching in Institutes others working in Studios. It feels nice to have created the Third generation of Animation in India and hope it will grow and expand forever.

“Animation is an Art-Form which has a fourth dimension in Time. It is Art that is moving”

Question: According to you how Animation should be taught in India? Should there be any kind of Specialization program?

Answer: I have a feeling that some people are looking at animation only as a career as a job. They want the monthly income just like a telephone operator. For those we should have like Polytechnics where they are taught in-betweening, clean-ups and basics of animation. For them animation is not an art form, it is a dhanda as they call it a business. Its their livelihood. And those people are really needed without them classical animation cannot be done. So there should be two types of Institutes: Polytechnics which teach these basics of classical animation production at an affordable fees and short term courses for them. And they are in demand, at least they were in demand. Initially there was a tremendous demand because they didn’t need designers or storyboard artist or character designers because all that was coming from abroad. What they want was people who could take those storyboards and design and animate them. Now I know we don't have enough people and I know how much we had to do when We were in UTV Toons to train these people. To train these people in the beginning and then take them on to productions where they would continue to learn further when they were on jobs.

And then there is the other kind of school where animation is taught along with film making. Its not just animation but animation as just film making medium. So they should also know
about music and sound and I also feel it is very important for animation students to have a knowledge of World classics literature, in dance, in performance in choreography, in lighting etc with all this then he becomes a complete film-maker with a very broad view in all arts. In fact animation is one art in which so many other arts flow in. So it has to be that kind of education for animators, sorry not animators but animation film maker. There should be a 5 year program, at least 4 years minimum education program in animation with 2 years graduation and 2 years post graduation i.e. specialization. Even in art schools animation should be taught. Like the other specialization subjects like Topography and Photography, even Animation should be introduced soon after students enter that is after foundation level. So that students can have the choice to take animation as a primary subject so that by the end of 5 years you learn the skills of animation and when you enter into the post-graduate school like IDC or NID one can hone his skills further as film makers.

Question: Should Animation in India be funded by the government like the IT?

Answer: I wish if the government would subsidize training in animation. Unfortunately they don’t realize that there are very special skills that are required for animation. Computer literacy is comparatively higher but not everyone knows to do good graphic. One might know the software but the creative aspect of it requires special training in Institutes. Sadly even Art schools do not impart any training in animation. We have been trying to persuade J.J. School of Arts but there are no funds. Nor even in the Films - FTI Pune. So we are neither here nor there. Not in the Art schools nor even in the Film schools. The only Institute that has done some work for training in animation is NID. And now IDC is doing better, I am sure after that Shilpa has joined they are exploring much more Whereas before they were doing animation only with simple devices. New avenues has to be opened for 2D and 3D animation. In fact Animation should be looked upon as an ‘Art-Form’ which has a fourth dimension in Time. It is a very beautiful concept- “Art that is moving’. So it has to be encouraged and practiced because the talent is there in India and I am happy that people are looking towards it.

“There is no
’Animation Culture’
in India as it is in the West”

Question: What is your vision about the future of animation in India?

Answer: There is no animation culture in India like the countries in the West. Institutes like NID, J.J. School of Arts, IDC, FTI Pune, Films Division and TASI should come together and form this. TASI is doing it but on a very small level. There is a lot of potential for the growth of animation in India. Basically there should be awareness and people should think differently. The ‘Cartoon’ image of animation from their minds should be taken out. As the countries in the west, animation is done at different levels- for children and for adults. Likewise it should be in India. There is lot of potential for original content but unfortunately the infrastructure is missing. Whereas countries like China, Korea, Japan, Phillippines, Vietnam and Indonesia have taken over India in this field. For content development, ‘Amar Chitra kathaein’ did some work but still that is not enough. They could have explore much more. Moreover children in the west read lots of comic books which is not so much practiced in India, that has to be encouraged. Thus this Animation Culture has to be practiced and developed in India.

“In Animation
the character becomes
sort of Generalized”

Question: What is your insight about Animation?

Answer: “One reason why animation is useful in India is that when you have animated characters they become sort of Generalized. Otherwise you take a live character he belongs to a particular region. He is either a Keralite or a Bengali or a Punjabi so they become associated with one particular region in lifestyle. In Animation the character becomes sort of generalized. Therefore he becomes an Indian farmer or an Indian fisherman so animation can cover the entire country.”


Interviewed by Mohini Kotasthane at Graphiti Studio, Mumbai


Design in India

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