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Tete-A-Tete with Arpan Gaglani, Creative Director of Delhi Safari and Krayon Pictures
CGTantra gets you some exclusive
excerpts from the candid interview that we had with Arpan Gaglani,
Creative Director of the movie 'Delhi Safari' and Krayon Pictures.
Everyone is eagerly awaiting the release of this high-end 3D Stereo
Animated Feature from one of the finest studios prevalent in the country
currently. Releasing on 19th October , Arpan shares with us, the
journey that he sailed through successfully overcoming all the
challenges that the team went through whilst making the movie...
Lets get started.........
1. I would like to start with a very cliched question :) as to How has been the experience of making Delhi Safari ?
Overall it's been a great learning
experience. All these years I have been working on outsourcing projects,
learning and understanding the art and trick of animation. But
somewhere it started getting monotonous and boring,as I was not involved
in the creation aspect of filmmaking but only following artwork/
designs provided by clients.
But on Delhi safari it was a different ball game
altogether.The opportunity to express my self and commitment to set high
standards was definitely the driving force. Every day we were faced
with new problems and challenges...but coming out of it successfully was
most rewarding,not just for me but for the whole team too!
2. Was there any research
that went into making the overall look of the film - the characters ,
the design, the sets, the mannerisms, the speech etc.? OR Was there any
research done at the pre-production stage in order to set the overall
look and feel of the film? If yes, can you elaborate on the same..
I would say, extensive research! It is
plain and simple.. We just wanted to be absolutely sure of every design
before we start the actual production of work.
Characters: We knew from the beginning
that we have one shot at creating memorable characters, but the question
was, what should we design that would tap the pulse of our Indian
audience (not just the animation friendly audience). How will they be
able to relate with them.So we came up with the term "realistic but
stylized". We thought that if we created characters with too much of
stylization, it might just go over them. Keeping them very toony or
extremely realistic would reduce the fun/seriousness of the
characters.So if you see the characters,they are quite simple in
form,but the addition of fur gets the sense of realism in them.We were
100% sure we didn't want a leopard to walk like human.Didn't want to
generate the subconscious feeling that some human is wearing a fur coat
and acting some Bollywood scenes. A leopard should look and behave like a
leopard and the same goes for the rest of our characters too.
In terms of stylization we went with
bigger heads in proportion to their body. We wanted the eyes to be very
expressive, hence the eyes are big and prominent. We also didn't want
any of our characters to resemble the real actors. We want people to
remember 'Bajrangi', 'Alex' in their animated form and not as govinda or
We knew that subtle amount of squash
and stretch will be used in the animation.Simpler form really helped us
in achieving that easily.I keep telling everyone that if one has to
visualize a ginger to squash and stretch in its real form, it just does
not seem to look correct!.But if one has to visualize a balloon...well
we can visualize it very clearly..right? So we got rid of real
anatomical shape and made the elbows, knees, fingers, etc very straight
Sets: Firstly..We didn't want to invent the wheel!
Delhi safari is a story of bunch of animals traveling from Mumbai to Delhi and that to hidden!
Few of us decided to travel along the
path which our animals would have taken and thereby collect references
.So we went to the remotest part of Kutch,Rajasthan, jungle of Sariska
and obviously Delhi.I am from Mumbai and have grown up playing and
exploring in my beloved Borivali national park.
Largely all the major sets in the film have been
influenced by the reference images we collected from Recce. For example
the set created for the flemingo garba song is really an abandoned sun
temple in Kutch. We came across a mountain called KALO DUNGAR at indo
pak border in Kutch and locals told us that it's a place where you will
find lots of foxes. We used the same rock formation for our heyna
All the trees, rocks, plants, Delhi city elements, goods
train, tracks...etc are referenced out of the recce images.Very few
Internet image reference were used. The creation of sets was based on
the Lego technique. As I wanted every frame to have that photographic
staging.This technique helped me in moving elements freely at the layout
stage. Again the design element was based out of realistic but stylized
and also kept simple to reduce production complications.
Mannerism: Working on outsourcing projects for
US required certain actions and body language which the Americans would
relate to.We knew that we cannot use those kind of mannerism or gestures
for our film.Can you imagine govinda acting like one of the male
characters of Disney..no way!! Similarly Bajrangi also cannot!! nor any
of the other characters. Gestures used in India are different from US or
any other country.So we decided to go with our typical mannerism and
gestures so that everyone in india can relate to them easily.
3. Pertaining that Nikhil
Advani has some of the best Live-Action Hindi features to his
credentials , how has been the experience working with him on an
Animated Feature ?
Nikhil was very clear in the
beginning... he knew how and what he wanted to tell his audience,and
told us to add the 'tadka' of telling story through the medium of
animation.A complete freehand was given to us right from the beginning.
He always open to ideas and promptly acted upon the suggestions given by
Because of Nikhil we got to work closely with really
talented actors.The idea of doing an acting/stage workshop with the
actors was really helpful.We could see the whole movie enacted in front
of us.It not only helped us in understanding the flow of the movie, but
it served a great reference for animators at the later stages of movie.
The funny part working with Nikhil was that his
reactions were very spontaneous and on the spot. He would "Like"the
image or "Not" like it.The answer would be a simple yes or no.If its
No,then we have to figure it out what it is. No explanation
given.Luckily for us, the NO's were very rare! :)
Altogether it was a great experience for me, right
from being involved with script,shooting the actors,understanding how
music is composed,background score,editing,final mix and personally
being in charge of color grading the whole film (DI).
4. Its been quite
sometime since Delhi Safari took-off for production... How do you manage
to maintain the creative equilibrium amongst yourself and your team for
the movie to have a consistent flow, specially when a good amount of
time has gone by.
Well, for any kind of consistency
in creatives,the only thing that will help is proper planning and
complete visualization at preproduction stage. Delhi safari has been
made in a span of 3 years and had different stages. When we first
started we were a handful.We knew we had to build the studio from
scratch. Our kick-ass Art Director, Aditya Sharma started creating
sketches from the brief given by Nikhil. We also had to collect a talent
pool of people to work on this film. Not only talented,but guys sharing
the same passion to create a benchmark.I remember we hired almost 30
freshers from various institutes to form an animation team.Our Animation
director Rafique Ahmed trained them for almost 5 to 6 months and got
them nearly production ready.
As we were training artist for various department,
pre-production was in full swing. In order to get a look and feel of the
film and also be confident about it,we decided to do a sample
sequence.We worked towards that goal and I remember how excited we all
were when we had our first screening with a small audience of 40.They
all loved it and that became our first benchmark for us to follow.As we
went through a lots of ups and downs, our initial preproduction and the
first sequence always helped in keeping the whole film on track.
5. Indian audiences have
certain pre-conceived notions in their mind when it comes to Indian
Animation Film. Did that affect your mindset whilst designing various
creative aspects of the movie.
The certain Pre-conceived notions
of the Indian audience would be that animation medium is generally for
kids, all about mythological stories and for the smarter animation
audience "bad quality".We knew that from the beginning. But the biggest
culprit of all, according to me lies in the storytelling! Mythological
stories are great,but we are just not ready and won't be able to do
justice to such larger than life stories. For me lord of the rings is a
bench mark...our mythological stories deserve equal quality or more than
Keeping these aspects in mind we knew we had to
really keep a check on the way we want to tell the story. We
storyboarded the whole film, made a 2D animatic with scratch sound and
FX and showed it to select audience for their reviews.We went through a
lot of changes, till we were sure that the movie is working in 2d form.
Even for characters we did rounds of reviews form
various age groups..and especially kids..they are just so
straightforward and straight from the heart.They have a very different
and interesting way of looking at a characters, which we adults don't
It's just a matter of time and we will come to know
whether our storytelling will make an impact on the mass audience or
6. How different it is to
work on a 3D stereoscopic feature? Does that affect creative decisions
as well as everything looks more intensified than the normal.
A feature film has to be made the
way a film has to be made. According to me 3D stereoscopic Is just an
added dimension to excite the audience..but it does not really help in
storytelling. In fact the overuse of it will surely kill the
Originally Delhi safari was not intended to be made
in stereo, and I thank god for that...cause I am very sure we would have
got carried away and would have designed sequences specifically for
After the movie was over..we decided not to do the
normal 3D conversion, but instead render out the second camera.
We have been very careful as to which shot should
get greater depth.We want the viewing to be easy on the eyes and the
audience should follow the story rather than getting troubled by stereo.
The only challenge would be at the technological end
where you have to render the film two times. A lot of time is spent in
the animation dept. getting the camera right and obviously the
investments one has to make to support this technology.
7. Delhi Safari teasers
has generated great reviews for the Look-and-feel that it carries in
itself. What kind of coordination is required between the teams in order
to achieve the look that the film has today? Is there a lot of
back-and-forth that happens at production level ? If yes , then how do
you manage the same and yet maintain to integrate necessary creative
I am thankful to everyone for the
support they are extending for the film and hoping that not just the
look and feel, but the whole film as a story is liked by them.
Coordination between the artist is definitely
important as every artist has to stay on the same page throughout the
course of the film. Delhi safari is a collaborative output of the
studio.Whatever you have seen or will see in the film is the mind of 200
crazy artist having given their 100%.
To get all these minds on the same page, the first
thing that we conduct in the morning is called "Dailies". Its a very
common word used in studios abroad.This is one place where everyone who
has worked the previous day gets screened in front of everyone. Everyone
has complete freedom to scrutinize,like,hate and bombard it with their
thoughts.All artist take it sportingly..and who do not..have to .. :) It
has worked wonders and you can see the result for your self.
Please know that we were creating stuff all by
ourselves for the first time..a lot of back and forth was bound to
happen.We were constantly trying to make things look better and
better.Just to keep us on track the small team of production kept
reminding us of deadlines.We did lot of mistakes and kept learning from
it.We all knew that if a shot is not looking great and we are not
satisfied with the outcome, guys used to spend extra hours just to
perfect it and stay on course too!
8. In the end , Delhi
Safari is nearing its release and heap of expectations are built upon it
within the fraternity particularly and general crowd as well... What
are your views on the same...
I can now only hope that they like
and enjoy the film. All I can say is that we have given our best shot
and no shortcuts have been taken.In the end it's our first film and we
aspire to do more and whatever we have learned from this film can be put
to use in another!
9. Any Last minute stomach pangs that you would want to tell the audience about?
Delhi safari not only releases in India but in the US, Russia, UAE, China, and hopefully a lot of European countries.
Thats not all..CGTantra would also
be featuring an exclusive interview covering the technical aspect that
went into the making of "DELHI SAFARI"... So , Keep yourself hooked to