Indian animator Arjun Rihan had a fulfilling experience while working on his first international project, Disney-Pixar's just released 3D animation film "Brave". But he says it would be a mistake to underestimate Indian talent and feels that this country should hold on to its cultural context and tell its own stories.
Rihan, a software engineer who worked in Pune for 16 years, said: "It's an exciting phase for animation movies globally and India as well."
"The cycle of inspiration is good. But apart from the technicality, most animation films in the West revolve around the storytelling. It's important for us to hold on to our cultural context and tell our own stories rather than getting influenced (by the West). The technicalities will fall into place. I think it's a mistake to underestimate the existing talent in India," he told IANS in an e-mail interaction.
Rihan, who has now shifted his base to the US, termed his experience of working in the Hollywood movie as "fulfilling" and that it had made him a "better" professional.
"My role was to create characters for the movie. 'Brave', unlike other animated films, has a complex story. If we don't want any errors to crop up in the latter parts of the story, we need to sort out all design and animation-related issues on the drawing board itself. Everything that has gone in the making of the film has only made it better," he said.
"Working independently meant having to work at the basics of every department. I knew my ideas inside out and I knew how to build on them best. It's very fulfilling. It has helped me at Pixar because my vision was always on the final picture, even while doing the details," he added.
Released Friday, "Brave" is about Princess Merida. Determined to make her own path in life, she defies a custom and brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.
The job of a software professional never interested him and in his bid to do something creative, Rihan enrolled himself at the University of Southern California where he studied animation.
"My interest in animation was sparked by American character animator Preston Blair's books at the age of nine, and today I am working with the same animation group," Rihan proudly said.
"While growing up in India, I saw 'Spiderman' and would practise drawing from Blair's books. But I found it difficult to pursue animation in the country because there was no formal curriculum. So when I came to the US to do software engineering, I enrolled myself in a film school," he added.
Before bagging his first international project, Rihan worked on short animation films "Topi", "Arjuna" and "Abridged" on home turf.
Asked how different it was to create animated action scenes from live action, he said: "Unlike a normal feature film where only actors have to film at a given location, here we have to create a location for the characters to fit in.
"First, we would make a drawing and then model it in 3D. Then camera angles need to be decided. The actors come in only in the last part."
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)