There’s a lot happening around us. The world is in a state of dealing with unparalleled situations everywhere and coping up with the ‘new normal’. While people are forced to stay homebound, with everything else standing stalled for the time being, they are resorting to art – to stories, films, TV shows, online shows, animation, painting, sculpting and in any other form.
Most of the artists are utilising their talent to focus on important issues and so are animators. They have taken up crucial topics to grab more eyeballs to it – from lockdown, to COVID scenario, to Assam Gas Leak, super cyclone Amhan and so on. Animator Suchana Saha, a postgraduate student of Animation Cinema at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata, has also created an animated short, Whole, that focuses on how whatever happening with us (humans) now, is a consequence of what we have done to Nature.
Made as a part of a 48 hour animation filmmaking challenge “ANIMATION JAM”, from the SRFTI animation student community, with the theme and title of ‘Whole’, Saha focused on the climate change and exploitation of Nature. The main intention of this challenge was to push each other to work during this lockdown. Riah, another 16th batch student, also did a heartwarming animation on the same theme, and the ‘ANIMATION JAM’ continues next week where they will do morph relay animation in the next episode.
Talking about the thought behind her animated short, she shared with AnimationXpress, “When I was nominated by a friend, Trishul, for the jam, my first understanding of the word ‘Whole’ spontaneously led to the ‘whole’ world in my mind. Not just for the past few months, but environmental issues, over-consumerism, and natural exploitation is something which was bothering me for quite some time now, COVID 19 outbreak was just a topping on all these thoughts. So when I got a chance to depict the word ‘whole’, I chose to put all these elements in it.”
Saha liked to paint and later started admiring cinema, leading to a thought that animation cinema would be a good blend of both. A Bachelors in Multimedia with specialisation in Animation from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, she was mentored by Kaustubh Ray, who also played an important role in choosing this medium as her career. She also studied animation at VGIK for an International Summer School Programme in the year 2018.
She is becoming a name in the industry and her film Maa Tuki has already won several awards including the Best Short Film at TASI’s Anifest. Her all time inspiration is Michael Dudok De Wit and she wants to tell simple and powerful stories just like him. Her short films as animation director are Paper, Intraview, Maa Tuki (Bengali), Poter Kotha (Documentary) and Whole.
Speaking about the challenges while executing the film, she said, “The main challenge was time. 48 hours to complete a one min animated short is hectic. In that 48 hours ideation, animation, compositing and sound had to happen. And the second challenge was editing. The initial concept of the Whole world has so many things, it was difficult to know what to keep and what not to keep in it.”
Saha used Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects for animation and compositing respectively but completed the challenge in the given time. She further added, “As the challenge started I almost spent half a day thinking whether to do it or not. But simultaneously I was also doing some thumb-nailing of whatever came in my mind. I realised a pattern of gulps and thus I fixed on the ending that everything will be gulped by the deadly virus. Since I had a lot of time constraints, I started animating the ending sequence first. The ending sequence also helped me form the narrative little by little. Then I did a very rough sequencing and storyboards with an edit layout. I started animating according to the sequence. A little change in edit also happened during compositing. The sound was done by Shireen Ghosh after compositing. Usually I have a sound layout beforehand but for Whole, I did not have that time.”
Taking inspiration from the surroundings, Saha depicted Whole as the current condition of humans is because it’s a payback time for Nature for all the wrong we have done to her. We have continued to have exploited it and its resources for our own means and to satiate our greed. It has been ravaged by our power hungry authorities who do not care about its well-being.
Whole shows how drops of our deeds have turned into an ocean of exploitation and merciless killing of innocent creatures, and that now Nature is probably taking a revenge with the virus that’s let loose to gulp down mankind.