At the ceremony on Thursday night, when AnimationXpress co-founder Anand Gurnani was asked,”How important is it to write about animation?” he said that a few years ago, many creative people would have loved to pursue a career in animation but due to parental pressure settled for more secure ‘jobs’ in companies and banks. Luckily, today times have changed. The Indian animation industry has seen an astounding growth and there are several lucrative career options in the field of animation, VFX and gaming. If we talk about it and spread the word, parents will be more open to allowing their kids to follow their dreams and become the future of Indian animation.
So here we are, writing about animation and sharing with our readers the events of the first ever Golden Cursor Awards for Excellence in Animation. Get all the details right here on the All About Animation Blog.
The Golden Cursor Awards for Animation were presented by Tech2 and Arena Animation in association with Aptech and CNBC-TV 18 and powered by AnimationXpress.com. Mr. Tim Mostert, the creator of the Speedy comic strip in South Africa and Mr. Sunil Thankamushy, Animation Director and Co-Founder of Spark Unlimited.
Although there are many big and small animation awards that honour Indian animators – ASIFA India’s Awards of Excellence, FICCI BAF and 24FPS to name a few, the GCA stands out because it is backed by a big media house. Hopefully, that should put Indian Animation in the spotlight for the public at large as well, besides of course encouraging Indian animation talent.
Audience settling down
The venue was the grand ballroom of the ITC Grand Sheraton in Parel. Scheduled to begin at 6:30, the show finally began at 7:45, kicking off with a ‘rocking’ performance by Kolkata based rock group, Hip Pocket. It immediately put the by now restless audience right back into the mood. Perhaps the organisers wanted to send a signal out to the world – Indian Animation is on its way to rock the globe!
Hip Pocket from Kolkata
The music was followed by some Sponsors’ videos and an introduction of the jury panel and selection process.
Mr. R Krishnan, Global Head, Arena Animation spoke briefly about the industry trends and his company’s contribution to it. He cited low cost as reason for the competitive edge that we have over the rest of the world. In his words, creating animation in India costs just one-fifth of what it would if one were to attempt it in USA or any place else. Personally, I think it is very sad that cheap labour is what is propelling Indian animation ahead rather than good quality creative work. He also mentioned that close to 25 feature length Indian animation films are scheduled for release this year. It remains to be seen how many actually make it to the box office and of those, how many actually are creatively and commercially successful.
Chief Guest Tim Mostert introduced his creation – the character Speedy and then spoke of how India is known for its Food, Cricket and now, Animation. He likened India to a sleeping giant that needs only to be woken up from its complacent slumber. We seem to be waiting for a magic feather, he said, to convince us that we can fly. With our original characters, brilliant palette of colours and personalities, we can create our own unique identity. “Don’t emulate, show the world how powerful you are.” He described the Indian character that he has created – Muli. Tim also spoke about the animation greats like Tex Avery who originally inspired all other artists saying if they were alive today, they would look to India for inspiration. High praise indeed!
Without much ado, hosts Gautam Srinivasan and Urvashi Yadav, both known to us as anchors on CNBC, then got on with the awards. Host Suresh mingled with the audience, talking to some of the eminent personalities, asking them relevant questions. He first got Govind Nihalani to speak a few words about his first animated film which will tentatively release next year.
Mr. C, the animated mascot for the Golden Cursor Awards, introduced the nominees before each award. Tim Mostert handed out the awards, accompanied by various eminent personalities from the Indian Animation Industry. My only grouse was that not a single nominated animation was screened for the audience making it difficult to visualise the creative genius that was being honoured. They could have shown at least a few seconds of each film. Perhaps they skipped it because of lack of time.
The first two awards, given by Tim and Virgin Comics Ceo, Mr. Suresh Setharaman, were Best New Animation Style which went to Levis Slim Fit by Famous Studios and Best Animated Public Service Announcement and won by Vaibhav Studios for Buladi.
The Animagic Team – Sumant Rao, Gayatri Rao & Chetan Sharma
The next two awards were – Best 2D Animation won by Animagic India for Maa-Aa and Best 3D Animation won by Big Animation for Hey Krishna. These were given by Anand Gurnani and Tim.
Host Suresh then caught up with his namesake Suresh Seetharaman, CEO of Virgin Comics, asking him if comics were dead! But Mr. Seetharaman said it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact he said Indians don’t speak, they tell stories! A very interesting insight.
The award for Best Animated TVC was shared by Famous Studios for Levis Slim Fit and Vaibhav Studios for the Amaron Batteries advertisement. Vaibhav thanked his entire team – the animators at Rhythm and Hues, Music Director Tapas Relia and Chetan Sashital for the voice over. The Best Live Action and Animation Combo Award went to Prime Focus for Fevicol. Crest Animation’s Mr A K Madhavan gave away these awards along with Tim.
Taare Zameen Par’s 2D animated sequence
Best Animated Sequence in a film went to Vaibhav Studios again for the 3 x 9 scene in Taare Zameen Par. Vaibhav sais that this was the first time they had animated for a feature film. Best Animated Title Sequence in a film/tv series was won by Dhimant Vyas for Taare Zameen Par again. He dedicated the award to his late father who he lost just few days ago.
Dhimant poses with his team and family
Dhimant’s Winning Animation
Mr Pramod Khera of Aptech was then asked by Suresh about the current scenario in the country. We Indians seem to be taking over cars, banks and the like but the talent crunch can ruin this streak. When they set up Aptech 12 years ago, they had a tough time convincing people about multimedia careers but now things have changed.
Surprisingly, a young lady from the audience when asked by Suresh to name her all-time favourite animated character, said she doesn’t watch much television. If Indian animation can convert her to an animation fan, then that would be something!
A Jubilant Tapas Relia with his wife
Next came the awards for the Best Lyrics and Best Background Score for an Animation Film. Swanand Kirkire won for the lyrics he wrote for Animagic India’s Maa-Aa and he dedicated the award to Chetan Sharma of Animagic. Tapas Relia won for composing music for Percept’s Return of Hanuman, and cheekily said that after hearing that the Indian Animation Industry is poised to touch the One Billion Dollars mark, he has decided that he wants to stick to making music for animation rather than Bollywood films! Both received their awards from Ashish Kulkarni of BIG Animation who was also on the jury.
Suresh then introduced the grand old man of Indian animation, Bhimsain Khurana, to the audience. Almost everyone in the audience has grown up watching the ‘Ek Titli, Anek Titliyan’ short film on Doordarshan. Evoking nostalgia, Bhimsain declined credit for this film’s popularity. When he created it, he had no such intention and it was a complete surprise that it touched a chord with so many people. He is very impressed with today’s animation. He finds it fascinating. His legacy is being carried forward by his son, Kireet Khurana(Creative Director and CEO of 2nZ Animation Co.) and daughter, Tehzeeb Khurana (Creative Director and Producer at 2nZ Animation Co.), who runs a Toons Club for kids which, she says, is inspired by her 10 year old son.
Up next was Best Animation Music won by Illayaraja for the first ever Tamil animated film – V4. Director of the film Sridevi Rao accepted it on his behalf.
The Voice of Indian Animation – Chetan Sashital
The man behind the voice of Genie in the Hindi version of Disney’s Alladin, Chetan Sashital, walked away with the Best Animation Voice award. Labelled as the most expensive voice in India, he thanked everybody in the voice of Goofy and Mickey Mouse! He also sang Ek Titli, Anek Titliyan – the song that inspired him to enter this field. He also reminded everyone of the other animated film – Tree of Life which had no dialogues, only sounds but conveyed the message beautifully, all the same. In his own voice, he boomed, “And God said, Let there be light! But first, God has to ‘SAY’ it, which proves that the voice always comes first in Animation too.” He profusely thanked all the directors and producers who gave him the opportunity to become the ‘most expensive voice’ but also voiced his worry that voice-casting isn’t done in the proper manner in India. Producers and Directors, hope you are taking note of this!
NASSCOM’s Rajiv Vaishnav was questioned by Suresh – After BPO, KPO and even DPO (Data Process Outsourcing), is there a likelihood of an APO (Animation Process Outsourcing) in the near future? Rajiv acknowledged that the opportunity is there.
The Best Animation Sound Effects and Best Visual Effects in Animation, both went to Big Animation for the film Hey Krishna.
We caught a glimpse of the emerging trend right there in the audience when Suresh asked little Kayva, who happens to be animator Dhimant Vyas’ daughter, what her favourite Animated character was, said Shrek.”Isn’t it a bit violent”, commented Suresh to which Kavya nodded. “Do you like violent films?” She nodded again! Hmmm… Kids are tough these days!
We also got to hear an anecdote from the Father of Indian Animation – Mr. Ram Mohan. When he decided to join an animation job, his mother had asked him, “Is it a government job?” Luckily for him and for the rest of us, it wasn’t and despite all the ups and downs, Ram Mohan, in his own words, ‘survived’. He was certainly being modest.
The Best Animated Channel ID / Promo was awarded to Symphonic, again by Vaibhav Studio. Vaibhav credited Rajiv Eipe for brilliant film. Rajiv had designed as well as directed the film. Vaibhav also thanked Roto for the great sound effects.
Online Story-telling Contest Winner – Christopher Paul Mendonca
There was also an online storytelling contest held where one had to tell his/her story within 4 frames.This award went to Christopher Paul Mendonca who was overjoyed.
The Best Animated Character was the Channel V Bai.
IDC Student Ajay Singh Supahiya flanked by his friends and Sumant Rao
Best Animated Short Film by a student went to IDC, IIT student Ajay Singh Supahiya for his Arjun Mahabharat. It was a proud moment for all the students of IDC as otherwise, most of these awards are picked up by NID students. Being from the first batch of Animation students, he felt proud and thanked his professors – Shilpa Ranade and Sumant Rao.
Best Animated Short Film by a professional was Gitanjali Rao’s Printed Rainbow. This film has already garnered a lot of international awards. Unfortunately, Gitanjali couldn’t be there for the ceremony.
Before the Best Animated Feature Film award could be announced, Suresh asked many in the audience to guess who might have won it. Ashish Kulkarni diplomatically said, “Animation is the true winner!” On a more honest note, he said that the judging was done in such a manner that the jurors only gave points and had no ideas as to what they added up to. Percept Picture Company’s Return of Hanuman bagged the honour. Collecting the award from Govind Nihalani, Shailendra Singh, CEO, Percept, said they got lucky! Though many had been striving to take Indian Animation places, they had reaped the fruits. “Animation is a team effort. We Indian animators must work together and show the world what we are made of. Jai Bajrang Bali!” Do we hear the Gods say “Tathastu”?
V G Samant making an emotional speech
The last and most prestigious honour of the night was the induction of Mr. V. G. Samant into the Hall of Fame. The man behind the 2 Hanuman films who began his career in animation in 1978 had a lump in his throat as he accepted his award from Ram Mohan. The audience gave him a long, standing ovation.
Sunil Thankamushy made an impromptu but short and inspirational speech
The celebration ended on a promising note with Spark Unlimited’s Sunil Thankamushy narrating a small story from his NID days and making a wish that the 3rd Golden Age of Animation would occur in India. Amen to that!
All the award winners and jury members then got on stage for photographs. The first Golden Cursor Awards ended with a bang, quite literally as a balloon was burst overhead, showering everyone with festoons and confetti.
Everybody on stage!!
Dinner and Cocktails were served as everybody mingled, winners celebrated, reporters scrambled to interview and take photographs.
Before I could grab a picture of the Star Winner of the evening, Vaibhav Kumaresh with 4 awards, he had disappeared somewhere, perhaps to celebrate the well-deserved victory. But later, over the phone, he did promise an interview. For that and more… stay tuned!
Dhimant poses with his team and family
A few words of advice to the organizers – Next time, please screen snippets from the nominated films or else how is the audience to know why a particular film is winning the award? Secondly, please begin on time (though not many seemed to mind as the cocktails flowed freely before and after the show). And last but not the least, when you have such a big event, be prepared for an overwhelming response and for a 200% turnout of people and plan accordingly.