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Monday, May 12, 2008

Endearing characters roll off his fingers


Vaibhav Kumaresh is playing God - in less than a week, he'll be breathing life into characters he is moulding for an ad shoot, for Cartoon Network. Like any other kid, Vaibhav doodled his way through school and only realised much later, that he could turn it into a profession thanks to a Visual Communication and Animation Design course at the National Institute of Design, NID, at Ahmedabad.

Today, Kumaresh has an impressive body of work. After Poga of MTV which won gold for the best animation at the Promax Asia Awards 2003, he went on to set up his own studio and more awards came his way. Since then, he's done the Amaron claymation commercials and created that lovable Sardar teacher, Simpu on Channel V.Today, this gifted animator is busy with a new project, every month or so.

He takes up only one project a month, so he can give it his complete attention. He confesses to being very happy doing all kinds of animation because it allows him to work with different mediums.But he also feels that comparisons between the Indian animation industry with Europe or the US is unfair because abroad, "animation is much older. Audiences have been exposed to it for a much longer time. People have been making films, learning from their mistakes, basically the process (abroad) is atleast 18 years old. And, its been around 15 years since animation has picked up as a profession in India. So, I think there is still a long way to go before we are as experienced in the medium as the West."

But is the quality of the animation coming out of India today, matching up to international standards, or are we putting out slipshod stuff? He says, "We haven't applied ourselves enought to long format storytelling and we haven't done it sincerely or consistently enough. So, it works both ways, we need to put in better effort and the infrastructure has got to improve."Keeping this in mind, what kind of work is being outsourced by Italian and French studios to India?

He explains, "There are different structures of studios operating in India. Currently, the more lucrative kind is the type that is totally running on outsourced work." After the awards and the recognition, he set up his own studio and he calls it the most happy moment in his life, well, possibly after his marriage though! He says, "It's definitely better, it's more independent. You are handling your own money and not someone else's money. In all aspects, creatively and financially, you get to work with the best people. Your planning projects that you really want to do and like to do."

The most important factor in any man's success is support from his family. His father pointed him in the right direction by telling him about the course at NID and even enrolling him in. Also, Kumaresh readily acknowledges his wife, Suranjana's role in giving him the space and the encouragement. She is also an NID alumni and she doubles up as partner and co-director in her husband's studio. When they aren't working, the two attempt to cook a meal together, though Kumaresh might just find animation that much easier! Animated movies are something else he likes to unwind with, and his favourite is ofcourse, the adorable 'Lion King'. He says this movie has got all the ingredients - style, characters and storytelling - just perfect.

Written for moneycontrol.com

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