Basket of awards

Suresh Eriyat Photo: Thulasi Kakkat | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat
K. Pradeep Thiruvananthapuram 31 March 2016 10:35 IST
Updated: 31 March 2016 10:35 IST

Suresh Eriyat’s short animation film 'Fisherwoman and Tuk-Tuk' won the National Film Award for the Best Animated Film.

The last two years have been quite satisfactory for Suresh Eriyat and his animation house Studio Eeksaurus. Last year Fateline bagged the prestigious Annecy Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, considered the Oscars for animators. And this year Suresh has bagged National honours for his short animation film Fisherwoman and Tuk-Tuk in the Best Animation Film category.

“The Annecy Award was a first for India. The National award is a big one and it is important to be recognised by our own country as animated story telling definitely requires a boost. This film’s done a world tour and getting greeted in one’s own country with the most coveted award is thrilling and inspiring,” says the Kochi-born, Mumbai-based, Suresh.

The film tells the story of a middle-aged fisherwoman who dreams of owning an auto rickshaw and the consequences that ensue. “While I was driving to office I saw these bold fisherwomen with their baskets full of fish crossing the road with a sense of irreverence. They got out of the rickshaw and had a bit of an argument with a puny rickshaw driver and walked off angrily. I wondered if they ever would like to ride a rickshaw. I loved their loud outlook and that ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude. I began visualising the story. A lot of questions crossed my mind like how society would react to a fisherwoman who loves to ride a rickshaw? How many of them could be doing the work that they never ever enjoyed? And so forth. This triggered the genesis of Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk in 2009.”


Suresh and his team discussed this as “a short film project” to help them understand and practise stylised animation. “I knew I wouldn't find any funding body to support us. So the only way was to divert the surplus from our ad film-making revenues to fund the short. We decided to go ahead and I told the team to get back to this film's work, when they were free from high stress production schedules of ad films. It started off well, but soon the team disintegrated and I felt we might not be able to finish the film ever. We put a new team on the job, trained them up on the style of animation and managed to finish it last year.”

Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk was nominated to at least 30 international and national festivals and has won around 10 awards won so far.

What are the elements that must have swayed the jury in his favour? “At the Tokyo Anime Awards Festival the jury looked at four aspects: originality, culture/folk connect, unique stylisation, and technique. I think the colour and brightness that is a representation of Bollywood posters is a unique look that the film has. We generally put up a colourful and bright front on the outside even when we carry a load of worries inside. So the genesis of the style was that. The fisherwoman is manly and not eye candy but has a soft gentle soul within. Unlike, other animation films where cute, lovable characters take the roles of the protagonist, I wanted to experiment with a strong unconventional character to narrate an emotional story. The National jury must have had similar reasons.”

Among his many projects is a full-length animation film on which Suresh is working on. “We at Eeksaurus are particular of the mediums we adapt to for each of the brand stories or our animation films. While I was looking for some stories I stumbled upon a stray incident on the roads of Mumbai and felt the need to make a film to sensitise people to be more empathetic to the lesser privileged. That was the genesis of Tokri, our clay animated short. We have finished 13 minutes of animation by now, in the last seven years and we will be completing the film by the end of this year.”

Suresh started off with the legendary Famous Cine Labs & Studios, soon after he graduated from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. His production house Studio Eeksaurus has completed over 80 films and won a whole clutch of national and international awards and recognitions in a short span.