Animation studio Studio Dreamcatcher has collaborated on the animation sequences in Mammootty’s Gangster

Aashiq Abu’s Gangster has not been spared by critics. But one aspect that has made viewers go ga-ga a are the animated sequences in the film.

This has put the city-based Studio Dreamcatcher on cloud nine. The team at Studio Dreamcatcher did the animation sequences along with a team at Bangalore-based Studio Kokachi.

“We are surprised and happy about the appreciation that has come our way. Our team of 43 artistes worked on two animation sequences in the movie. In fact, it is for the first time that such extensive animation sequences have been used in live-action feature films in India,” says Kishore Mohan, who has co-directed the segments with Pratheek Thomas of Kokachi, who is also the co-founder of Manta Ray comics.

Gangster opens with a 10-minute animation sequence that narrates the story of Mammotty’s character Ali Akbar’s past, covering 35 years.

“In yet another segment, animation comes in at an unexpected juncture of the story and this experiment has got us mixed reviews,” he says. There is a portion where we have used 2D and 3D, he adds.

The sequences in the graphic novel genre have been executed in film noir style, a term you associate with crime movies, characterised by grim lighting and dark shadows.

It was at an event organised by Manta Ray Comics at Aashiq Abu’s Cafe Papaya in Kochi that they got on board Gangster.

“Pratheek is a good friend and he invited us to be part of the event where we did live comic sessions. That impressed Aashiq and during the discussions we suggested including animation in his film project. It was a big risk because it was unprecedented in Malayalam cinema,” says Kishore.

Armandale Healthcare Technologies, a United States-based company with its office in Technopark, has been funding the studio.

He also talks about some of the interesting facets of the animation that they incorporated in the scenes.

“If you have noticed, some of the characters in the animation section have been modelled after actors who are no longer with us, such as Balan K. Nair and Bob Christo who’ve played umpteen negative roles. Also, in the portions showing Mammootty as a youngster, the character resembles Dulquer! On the whole, irrespective of what critics say about the movie, it was great fun working with the team of Gangster and Kokachi.”

The sequences have been written by Pratheek and Abhilash Kumar. Roshan K. has done the art direction.

Abilash Narayanan has done character design and supervision.

Ultimately our aim is to gain 2D animation is its rightful place among the mainstream mediums of entertainment, Kishore says.

Team work

It was love for art that brought together Kishore Mohan, Roshan K. and Sinu Chandrasenan who formed Libera Artisti. Hooked to graphic novels and illustrations, they came up with their first graphic novel, Autopilot: A Traffic Novel. A group of like-minded artistes joined hands with them and they formed Dragonmill Media, an animation studio based out of Bangalore. Later they shifted to Thiruvananthapuram and renamed it Studio Dreamcatcher.

The team works from its office at Kesavadasapuram, where they do concept generation for short films and television series, handle 2D animation projects, and develops characters for games, films and comics.

The studio had made a signature movie for Lal Jose’s Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal. They have also been working on a series, Adventures of Cocoman, which is about a lungi-clad superhero.