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Chitrakatha has been a great foundation which acts like a glue, to bring back the community together, people weaving in and out of the festival, every couple of years. It is an amazing opportunity to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, as well as meet new people, and make new relationships.
Every edition of Chitrakatha, we see a group of new souls, students of NID, behind the scenes as the organising team. There have been countless people along the way, from numerous batches of NID, contributing, nourishing this seed planted years ago, and making this festival grow.
As Chitrakatha’21 comes to an end, we look back at the NID alumni who have worked for Chitrakatha, along with Sekhar, as students, who are now doing amazing things in the industry, and get their experiences and opinions about the festival. Here’s what they had to say about it.
Delwyn Jude Remedios
Delwyn Jude Remedios did his post-graduation in Animation Film Design from NID Ahmedabad. He specialises in animation using different mediums, illustration and graphic Novels. He has done a variety of work in the educational industry and is currently on the Design Faculty at IIT Hyderabad.
He shares his experience attending Chitrakatha while in NID.
“At that time we were students, so it was a really good opportunity to see the entire animation community coming together. And the interesting thing about NID and animation is that it’s a very
tight knit community, and we know almost all our seniors right since perhaps the first batch to the
very juniors so it’s really nice, and a platform like
this where everyone comes together is really amazing because as students we could see everyone’s work, interact with them. Our seniors were really down to earth so they really made us feel welcome to this whole family. And this friendship continued even as I went into the industry.”
He further adds, “It’s really nice to meet the young talents and.. It’s just a common time where everyone gets together and shares their knowledge. The last edition that I was a part of, I left full of energy and a lot of interesting ideas. I was very impressed with the work, the projection mapping and the experiments that had been done and very nice ideas emerged through just involvement in the
festival so, yeah if anything it’s a wonderful platform for the entire Indian animation community, and not just NID.
“We hope that this whole pandemic will end and
we can have it offline, but I think it’s a golden opportunity to do it online, because it might be your first and your last.
So it’s unique, a unique opportunity and we should embrace it. I think, online has its own strengths, offline has its own strengths”.
About Sekhar he says, “Sekhar is really amazing, he has been a big inspiration and a very crucial part of my entire beginning as a designer. I owe a lot to him, a small thank you is not enough. He has always been very encouraging, his methods are very unique because he treats you like an adult, he gives you that creative freedom to do what you want and I think overall he strives for the quality of work NID has been doing for over so many years and so, not just NID, but to all the people he has interacted with have a strong recollection, his encouragement goes a long way”.
We asked him about his thoughts on the evolution of the festival. “Initially when it started, animation definitely needed some kind of discussion. When I was in NID, I had a specialisation in animation, so perhaps I was looking at a small window and all my knowledge came from that. But as I moved to academics, as I understood more and more about design, I realised that it’s so interconnected.
Design is not just limited to the kind of few disciplines that are there in NID, because you club design with anything and it works. If you take a look at some of the latest definitions of design, you’ll realise that it’s so vast. I think it’s really time that we all start sharing knowledge, it’s only for our good. So this evolution I think is really right at this point of time, it makes perfect sense in my opinion”.
“Sekhar and others who have taught in NID who have set this culture, so many names actually, they’ve set this culture and it’s really wonderful because that carries forward through Chitrakatha”.
Ghost Animation is a collective of animators, artists and filmmakers from all over India. We got Two of its founders, Shaheen Sheriff and Kalp Sanghvi, who are NID alumni to talk to us about Chitrakatha.
“I didn’t know anything about Chitrakatha earlier like I had heard that there were animation festivals outside But I never really gave it any thought I didn’t know what it meant to me. But in Chitrakatha’15 there were a lot of workshops and I actually went into those workshops which had mixed disciplines, not necessarily animation but
with other fields also. And there were lots of nice movie screenings and we got to talk to the directors which went very cool. Like the place was so packed, we were just running from one event to the other and that felt quite nice”.
“Chitrakatha has changed around quite a lot like earlier it was an animation festival. So that is what it was primarily to me and I’m still seeing how it changes now that it is a design
festival. Last time when we came over there we had listened to a few presentations and stuff and it is quite nice to see that other disciplines are also being
involved in it”.
Talking about the films by Ghost Animation being screened in the last Chitrakatha he says, “It felt quite good to show the movie because Sekhar was my guide for the project, the feature movie that we were showing. So that was the first time my guide itself was watching the movie after 5 years. It was not only like showing it to you guys but also showing it to the faculty as well after so long, getting the approval of things and, the open air thing did feel very cool.
I could not eat Andhra Biryani that day. Many people had gone but we were busy making presentations short for the thing. But that didn’t happen so that is one thing I would like to have next time if I come in”.
“The first ever Chitrakatha that I was a part of was extremely new to me, because I was new to NID. There were so many new people showing and doing so many things. So basically I met so many new people and
I was exposed to a lot
of new things so my thought process on designing, filmmaking and animation in general was completely changed after I met all these people. They had different ways
of thinking and storytelling so that was something that I loved initially, like there are unlimited ways of telling a story and designing something, so that was very fresh and very exciting.
Initially I remember the first one or two Chitrakathas I obviously was excited. I volunteered to help out in any way possible, even if it’s just putting a kit together, getting someone from the airport or just getting things done. So of course that was extremely exciting to figure out how these things work basically, after running around in campus all day. In the evening or night just go to Sekhar’s cabin and joke around and chill out together or order some food but eventually for me, I would say, the last Chitrakatha is where we actually showcased and screened our film which was very huge for us and me and that is what I was very excited about. All these films over all these years that we had been watching and learning, trying to
imbibe our learnings from all of that and finally did one of our own and screened our own film which was the highlight for me in 2019.
We’ve always been in touch with Sekhar and he has always called us and remembered us. Since the very beginning, he
knew that we were sort of finishing our film And he got in touch with us and in case of our film, we were the happiest when Sekhar contacted us saying you have to screen your film.
We’ve always done most of our screenings at the Paldi campus and we were quite excited to come to Vijayawada because it was our first time there at the campus. So the open air screening was very exciting, there were way more people than I expected and the vibe was very magical. We were even more excited because people were excited to watch our film. We were a little nervous because of the huge crowd but I think it went quite well. It was really nice to finally showcase our film at Chitrakatha”.
Ranjitha Rajeevan is a storyteller, animator, a Bharatanatyam dancer from NID. She
has a considerable body of national and international collaboration work, which includes films, illustrations and comics.
“For me the 2009 Chitrakatha is something that I could never forget. It was a lot of things- I really don’t know how to put it in words. Meeting so many of our alumni from previous years, and people all across the world came down to our campus and all equally crazy”
She talks about the impact of Chitrakatha in not only her life but her mother’s too. “My mum is missing Chitrakatha because she’s the one who collects all the collectibles.
So if I get a T-shirt you know, or the tiny little kit, So, every Chitrakatha we’re waiting for the kit, so my mum is like, “this year will I get a kit?” and i’m like “mum, it’s online I have no idea” She says ‘where is my cow?’. I’m the one who is a part of it but she is the one who waits for it all the time”.
Ranjitha shared with us some memories from her first Chitrakatha.“Sekhar will say that I was never there in the scene which is true because I was always busy with something else. He’ll say don’t lie Ranjitha by saying you were working for Chitrakatha because during our first year when we were working for our experimental film, and we presented the film, the whole process of it was during Chitrakatha so I was not a part of any team.
But I was there, here and there, all the time, helping and volunteering for something, say, T-shirt making and writing sometimes so I was one of those people who was not always in one place all the time. I would be all over the place, not one of the responsible ones. The ones who were responsible would be Ramya or Jemma or one of those people.
I actually missed my felicitation the first year, because I did not know that the award ceremony was going on.
So I was practising for the dance night, and at the same time the award ceremony was going on and the film got second runner up in Chitrakatha, and I wasn’t there.
I was so sad because that was the first time we won in the award ceremony and it was the first Chitrakatha so I remember that vividly because I was practising at the foyer and the people were yelling at me, telling me that the award ceremony was going on, even Sekhar was furious but I’m like I’m doing this for you like we’re performing for Chitrakatha itself”.
“I don’t know how to put it in a few words, what Chitrakatha is to me. I think it just embraces everyone who wants to be in that space. The same way like every alternate year we end up being part of it, and the last one at Vijaywada was even more special because it was different from our campus.
I was there in Paldi first and when you come from Paldi to Vijaywada it’s a totally different space. But the heart of Chitrakatha remained the same, that was the most important part. So, you could take Chitrakatha wherever you want and it’ll still have the same energy I felt in 2009”.
Vijay Paul Punia
Vijay Paul Punia is an animator from NID. A former student of Sekhar, he has worked in fields of animation, illustration, space design and is also an educator.
Vijay tells us the parts of Chitrakatha he cherishes the most. “If I talk about it from my perspective I would say that I was a very energetic person at that point of time and I used to love doing anything which used to come across me. So during Chitrakatha of course there was a lot of planning that was happening for 2 years and people were still discussing it.
I was always into doing things, making things, And of course Chitrakatha just happened to be. I think the first Chitrakatha also sort of defined the later festivals but of course that was also lots of freedom and exploration,
and involvement with Sekhar kind of incorporated various departments
I think people from different departments also contributed to
make it happen.
I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of attending it. I have been some or the other way, a part of
So because for me, it was never about attending the festival . It was always about having this opportunity to explore and do more things, because I was actually working most of the time, or working with the merchandise part of it, those small things which we will give away and doing the small events, making people put up stalls, making something on ground, small events happening, the bills, and putting up some exhibition. So helping out with that, organizing those things. I think my whole learning, or my whole thing during Chitrakatha was about organizing and pushing things to make, or to have it there at that time”
“Later on, when I graduated and then I came back, of course, there were already volunteers. So I was working with them, telling them how we should work. We have to work in this direction, organizing them, telling them, giving them some work to be finished, because I never want to lose out on hands-on working.”
“And I think Sekhar also loves it. Sekhar could have also been part of it whenever he could. Sometimes we printed bags for Chitrakatha. Sometimes we tied and dyed T-shirts, and Sekhar had actually, even though he was also planning this International Festival and also organizing guests and everything, or even when he could take out time to come and attend those things and be with us.
Because when you’re working together, the kind of enjoyment that is, when you get your energy through working forward. So the whole preparation itself was a very fun activity.
It’s like when you have a wedding in the family. Everyone was so engaged into it, so involved into it. So it felt like that. For me, it was just enjoying that whole festivity during this Chitrakatha time”.
Jemma Jose is an Illustrator and comic artist from NID. Being influenced by Disney films from the 90s and studio Ghibli films, it reflects in her narrative and art style. She is a proud owner of an Indie dog – ‘Roku’ who is seen represented in her work in many instances.
Jemma shares her perspective over Chitrakatha. “You join a university, to come study a subject and it’s just a 4 or 5 years of just
being in a bubble, where the only thing you have to do is just be involved in whatever subject you’re learning. For me, it was animation. I came to study animation and it was 3 years of just talking about animation, seeing people do animation, and that’s all you have to do as a student.
You don’t have to worry about any of the adult responsibilities. You don’t have to try and balance it out with real world things. You just have to be in that wonderful bubble where you’re learning about something that you really love.
“And then you have Chitrakatha which takes that very base experience and then just kinda explodes it,
to like a whole another level because now you’re just bombarded by experiences of people who not only love animation but experience
it in a different way because culturally they’re different, and stylistically they are different and it’s all at once. It’s eye opening and it’s fantastic, it is an inspiring couple of days. It seems very basic to say that. Inspiring is a word that’s overused a lot but there’s no better way to describe Chitrakatha. You attend it and you’re left with a booster dose of appreciation
for the medium and then it makes you think about what it is that you feel like doing and how you wanna be involved either in the field or with the medium so that’s what it is, its inspiration.”
“We got to organise it for one year. That was quite different because you’re in behind the scenes of the inspiration so you kinda have to look at things logistically which you may feel like takes the fun out of it but then you have a special backstage pass to meeting the people first hand and getting to talk to them, to the guests and speakers.
The screenings were the highlight. It was just sitting in that room and just watching film after film and just.. that was amazing because everybody in that auditorium is appreciative of what is being shown, they’re respectful of what is being shown, they’re not there to see a movie. I feel that now having seen films as a commoner. You know you go to the theater nowadays and everyone leaves before the credits start rolling and that’s all I’ve been doing, but it’s such a different experience.
Also, just being behind the scenes and understanding the logistics that goes behind planning something like this. I didn’t thankfully have to make too many decisions, I just had to execute a lot of the plans. I was a part of that side of the organisational team and that was pretty special just being in the meetings itself was quite nice. I can’t remember what we would talk about but it would be like some crisis or the other and how we would be handling it. That was very exciting. It’s stuff like this really [which i remember from Chitrakatha]”.
Arka Gupta is an animator, illustrator and writer. He graduated in animation film design from NID Ahmedabad in 2013.
“Chitrakatha is a festival more of the students rather than by the students. It’s a festival that adds perspective when you are a design student and an animation design student especially., When you’re an 18 year old and when you leave school and come to college You have a very vague idea about what you’re getting into. In most cases you hear about courses for the first time and you are trying to figure out what to do with this freedom from exams initially, and something like Chitrakatha kind of brings you back on earth, in terms of making you realise that there is an actual industry where people are doing fantastic things, and that there is actual work happening. And while this work is not just the dead end,
neither is it all dancing around the meadows, there’s a proper methodical madness. The madness that you can actually see in presentations, in group discussions, let’s just say when people talk about what they work on. I think in one word I would say Chitrakatha is a revelation for students”.
Arka takes us through his whole journey of attending Chitrakatha through the years.
“So 2007 1st Chitrakatha, I had no idea it was happening because I was a first year student and at that time Chitrakatha began at the same time when we had a first semester jury. So, day one back then it was a three-day festival and our seniors obviously were very much involved in it so they were too busy for us to reach them at the moment. There was one Auditorium where everything was happening.
Day one, I kind of missed it because I was prepping up for my jury which I did insanely horribly on, and I was considering whether I had done the right thing in my life, and then I walked into the auditorium. Among the first few talks that were happening, Arnab Chaudhary was just introducing Arjun the Warrior Prince that came out like five years ago. Back then it was a film that was going to happen. It was a huge deal. It’s a feature length film with 2D animation in a lot of parts and it looks very polished. We got a preview of that.
Animation students who were one year two year seniors had designed some of the monsters as a character design course so, the neurons started firing up then and you saw people from the industry who you hadn’t really seen and now you knew a little bit about what animation really was.
I don’t remember much about the festival apart from the screenings because that’s all we had time for. We were leaving for our home for the first time since we came to NID then, we were packing and what not. But in the midst we realised that there is quite a bit to see, I myself was debating whether I should take film or animation. So I think that played a huge role in seeing that things like these exist. And it’s not just in DVDs, it’s in the form of real human beings who come in front of you and tell you “we do this and we want others to do this”.
Two years later, when Chitrakatha 2009 happened, I obviously was a little more gung-ho about it, so I pretended to work very hard so people, including Sekhar, noticed saying let us give him more responsibility.
So again, learning experiences because you’re introducing industry stalwarts in the week, and also because you have to be there at all times, you get to see the whole festival- the sleeplessness of the whole preparation, the lull after the storm, the sacrifices- like I don’t want a t-shirt because someone brought an extra guest so let’s give them the extra
t-shirt, those kinds of things.
But it is a festival in its truest sense. Just like any Bengali would rave about Durga Puja or anybody would rave about any festival from where they come from.
People who you meet over the week, Isabel and the others who come from abroad so obviously it’s cool when people are coming from different countries and then you’re making promos for them in stop motion In the 15 minutes you have before lunch so that you can use those to introduce them, those kind of things. As a student it’s a little too much fun.
In Chitrakatha 2011, I was still on campus, because I was working on my grad film. I don’t exactly remember how it worked back then since I was not too involved, I just went in for the film festival since I was busy with my own thing. But again the fact that you get to see 100 films over a span of a working week because that was the first 5 day festival you’re spoiled for life. You know this is what you want to do. You want to sit, you want to observe and you want to make your own thing. Even if it’s like animating on your kitchen table.
I missed the first Andhra Pradesh Chitrakatha because something else was happening then so I couldn’t come over. I was very jealous and heartbroken but there’s a little bit of that also when you miss the event there’s a real heartbreak. It feels really horrible .I’m not very articulate about reminiscing but I think that’s how it’s been with Chitrakatha”.
We are extremely grateful to the Chitrakatha family for their continued support. This festival provides young, budding designers a wonderful opportunity to experience and learn from the best of the best. Here’s to hoping the family grows even more!
Ahona (Outreach), Ashrita, Nachiket, Namrata, Rati, Sreelaxmi, Suhani, Vyom