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Hindu: Drawing Inspiration

Posted in Press by takshaa on May 20, 2009
Four differently-abled youngsters studying in a Bangalore animation school are all set to prove that nothing can stop them from getting what they want

PHOTO: K. GOPINATHAN

DRAWING INSPIRATION Their hearing impairment has not in any way dampened their enthusiasm for learning

Their lines are lucid and they are most articulate with the pencil firmly tucked between their fingers or the mouse under their palm. Harsh Todi, Nupur Mehul Gandhi, Mathew Kurian, and Anvitha Arun are a tight-knit group of students who thoroughly enjoy their artwork at Takshaa Academy for The Artist — an animation school in Whitefield.

The fact that they have different levels of speech and hearing impairment has not in any way dampened their enthusiasm and love for animation, drawing, and an exciting career possibility in this thriving field. When they approached Takshaa for admissions and had their portfolios reviewed, Executive Director Manu Ittina was totally blown away. “They all showed such pronounced imagination abilities. There is an aspect of art which is supposed to be therapeutic, and so their creativity is more pronounced,” says Manu.

Art and mythology

The youngest of the lot, Nupur, is barely 16 and straight out of school, which she completed in the National Open School module. She loves cartoon characters and enjoys creating animation on the computer. She plays tennis and loves football. Nupur hopes to go seriously into game designing. With Anvitha’s help she tells us how she is deeply interested in art history, especially Egyptian art and Greek mythology that she is studying as part of her foundation art course.

As part of the course, they have a class where they read up for ideas, delving often into Greek mythology for inspiration, offers Vidya Shetty, their Principal. She goes on to explain how all these four special students use lip-reading techniques during theory classes to catch the lectures. “Fellow students have also got used to their communication patterns and even repeat parts of lectures that they haven’t understood for them.” As part of the course, the students also get an experience of theatre, painting and storytelling, where they pick up a mix of skills and disciplines necessary for later specialised courses. “We haven’t separated them from other students in anyway and they have always remained in the mainstream of the course.”

Harsh Todi from Assam, all of 24, has enrolled for a specialisation in modelling and is a wiz on the system. “I like doing concept art,” says Harsh showing some interesting sinewy sketches and modelling he’s done on his system that bank highly on concepts of horror. Vidya says he enjoys working on a storyboard in the first stage when they develop an animation film. He is hoping to go abroad for his masters. “I don’t like doing what other people tell me to do,” he says, with Anvitha helping interpret. And all four friends burst out laughing in agreement.

The students go through three to eight hours of theory a week, 15 hours of lab time and four assisted sessions, where they have a one-to-one interaction with their teachers. Once a week they also watch an animation film, after which the film is broken down to its very basics for further learning. The topic of film triggers some interest and a list of favourites follows, starting from Bambi which they have watched recently, through Shrek, Shark Tales and Madagascar and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Thirty-year-old Mathew Kurian is the oldest and the quietest of the lot. He has enrolled for the computer graphics course and hopes to zero in on his specialisation soon. He springs a surprise telling us how he’s completed his dentistry course and wants to try out medical animation and teeth modelling! “I wanted to do something enjoyable so I joined this course. I want to make cartoon films too.”

Anvitha, 23, the binding factor for the group, graduated in fine arts from the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath and is very interested in learning character animation and wants to learn this concept in detail. With an extensive portfolio of works and pages and pages of sketches tucked away already, she’s opted for a computer graphics programme with a specialisation in animation. She has worked on advertising campaigns and is eager to land a job, with the Ittina studios: “If they will give me a job,” she giggles.

Manu Ittina believes that given their talent and the kind of demand for animators in the industry today, anyone would be a fool to reject them on the basis of their impairment, or any other basis. Talent is the bottom line. Moreover, most communication today happens online or face-to-face in the animation industry, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to be employed anywhere, he says, sounding very reassuring. And it shouldn’t be an issue at all, considering how none of these four talented youngsters, whose faces light up with the word `animation’ have any dearth of confidence in life’s limitless possibilities.

BHUMIKA K.

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