Society

The Eeksaurus tells a story

Noted animator Suresh Eriyat   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Suresh Eriyat and his wife Nilima chose to take the seats in the back row. This was the seventh time a film of theirs was being nominated for an award at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival held annually in Annecy, a beautiful Alpine town in France. “It was like watching a regular award function, the glee, the excitement. That’s when we heard our film, our names, announced. We had to pinch ourselves to realise it was a not a dream. This is the first time ever that an ad campaign has won at this festival,” says Suresh, the top-notch animator, the excitement still very palpable.

The film Fateline, directed by Suresh and produced by Eeksaurus, his studio, bagged the Annecy Cristal Award in the Commissioned Film category.

The film on Child Labour was made for Rotary International, in association with JWT, Kolkata.

The Annecy festival is not only the oldest animation festival but also the biggest by a wide margin. It is a celebrated gathering of animators, and as Suresh says “as big as say the Oscars,” for an animator.

“I have always dreamed of winning one of those sometime in my life. This came quite unexpectedly and perhaps quite early in my career. Being nominated six times before was in itself an honour and you can imagine what it was like when you win one.”

The jury hailed the film as a “fantastic mix of technique and aesthetics, a kind they had never seen before.” It was a campaign based on the concept of a young child labourer determined to break free from the bonds that hold him down. A message rendered in a simple yet effective manner, conveying how the impossible can be made possible when people join hands in working towards a cause.

The film has singers from the Pratham Brett Lee School, Govandi, Mumbai. “That was a humbling experience. These children from a slum showed so much of talent. I’m sure there was no one in the recording studio without moist eyes. They sang with their hearts and refused to take any remuneration. We compensated for that by giving them a lot of goodies and a synthesizer, which we felt would help them in the music training. Looking back I feel that the blessings of these children were there with us.”

What this award has done for Suresh, his studio, and animation in general is give a huge boost to explore and experiment.

“From now, I’m sure we will not be looked at as a backend destination for animation by other countries.”

Suresh, the Kochi-born, Mumbai-based animator, started off with the legendary Famous Cine Labs & Studios, soon after he graduated from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

Today, Suresh has his own production house Studio Eeksaurus. His new studio is 70 films old with over 20 national and international awards and recognitions in this short span.

And why the name Eeksaurus? “Many people have asked us what it means. My nick name at NID was Eeks. And don’t I look like a dinosaur? So it is a combination of both this,” and adds, “So when we were searching for a name this came up. It helps break the ice with clients, companies, people, and gets a conversation going.”

Suresh is working on multiple projects of which he is excited about two feature films that are in the pipeline. “One is our own production where I may take a front or a back seat but it will be a fully animated film. The other could be partly animation and partly live action. We have been mulling over it for some time now. Both of them will be in English dubbed into various languages. We have started work and will be ready, hopefully, by mid-2016.”

Both Suresh and Nilima strive to achieve a balance between passion and the practical. “While we must thoroughly enjoy what we do, there is also the reality of survival and sustainability that we can not ignore. Some of our works have been created for the sheer joy of doing it.”

And the short animation film Fisherwoman and Tuk-Tuk is one such project. Started sometime in 2009 it has been completed, screened, and is winning accolades.

Fisherwoman and Tuk-Tuk is just the end of a new beginning. It tells the story of a middle-aged fisherwoman who dreams of owning an auto rickshaw and the consequences that ensue. This film along with four others, that include two others we made for Rotary and two for Mumbai Police on assistance for crime against women, have been nominated for the KROK International Animated Films Festival to be held this September. What’s exciting about this festival is that it is aboard a cruise ship that sails from Moscow to St. Petersburg.”

With Famous Studios, Suresh was the first to launch clay animation commercials in the country. His clay characters for MTV Poga, for a popular brand of noodles and many more have won recognition at various international platforms.

From Amaron Battery ads to the music video Bindu re Bindu, the Simpu series for Channel V to MTV Poga series, Johnny Bravo going to Bollywood to Levis Slim vs. Slim to the Google Tanjore paintings, to short films like Freedom Song… Suresh has stamped his mark on the Indian animation scene.

“I’m just waiting for the feature films to be completed. This will set off a new movement in our industry,” signs off Suresh.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 8:47:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/animation-film-award/article7512328.ece

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