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Animation artist Debjyoti Saha’s short film on migrant workers goes viral

Two frames in a split screen reveal different realities of lockdown life in India. In one, a person sleeps on a bed in a dark room with an eye-mask to block out light coming through the window, while in the other a migrant labourer tries to sleep on the roadside with his crying child as bright lights of vehicles zoom past them.

Those who watched the animated short film in their homes were wracked by guilt and that was the intent of its creator Debjyoti Saha, a young Bengali animation artist based in Mumbai.

“The lockdown and its aftermath revealed fault-lines in our society and how they have got worse. What I felt had to be channelled somewhere and that is why I started to work on a series shorts titled Korona, the word is a pun on a Bengali word with the same pronunciation, which means ‘don’t’,” says Debjyoti. The series tackles various issues of the pandemic including migrant crisis, plight of doctors, lockdown rule violations, racism, and xenophobia.

Animation artist Debjyoti Saha’s short film on migrant workers goes viral

It was the fifth short in the series that compared the plight of migrant labourers with the fairly comfortable lockdown life of the urban middle-class of India. The film is less than a minute long went viral and has more than 2 million views on social media.

The series seems to have had an impact on the viewers, judging by the comments. Speaking of the reaction, Debjyoti says, “The series picked quite some traction, probably because people could relate to the guilt, cynicism, and satire in the videos.” Much of Debjyoti’s recent work has a social element. The young animator says that the transition from drawing for practice to drawing to express happened quite organically.

Asking questions

“There are different ways of creating a dialogue in and about society. I guess, the videos and illustrations I create are my way of starting a conversation about some of those issues. Having an opinion has a degree of polarity attached to it.” Debjyoti’s first stab at social commentary was a one-page comic called Chinese Whispers in 2017 that explored how information morphed as it travelled.

Animation artist Debjyoti Saha’s short film on migrant workers goes viral

Debjyoti adds that his work revolves around people and their stories. Scroll through his Instagram account and you can see how he has evolved as an artist over the years, from a skilled doodler with a Daliesque style, during his time as an Multimedia and Animation student at St Xavier’s College in Kolkata, to a dynamic concept artist who completed a postgraduate degree from the National Institute of Design in 2019.

The short film Sonder that he created in 2018 while at NID was selected for screening at the Manchester Animation Festival. The two-minute film tells the story of an artist named Farooq Qureshi, whom Debjyoti met on the street in Ahmedabad.

His most recent work is a music video for rapper Prabh Deep’s latest release ‘Chitta’. The video, which combines live-action and animation, is directed by Aakash Bhatia. Speaking about the black and white visuals, Debjyoti says, “It was adopted to bring forth the polarity in society. For everyone’s choice of drug, there is a drug lord. It is this idea of faux power, and how you project it.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 4:56:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/animation-artist-debjyoti-sahas-short-film-on-migrant-workers-goes-viral/article32375911.ece

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