Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chitrakatha: Indian Comics Beyond Balloons and Panels is soon-to-be-released documentary.

Chitrakatha: Indian Comics Beyond Balloons and Panels is soon-to-be-released documentary.
Chitrakatha: Indian Comics Beyond Balloons and Panels is soon-to-be-released documentary. This documentary is the first of its kind that attempts to showcase the largely untouched subject of Indian Comics as a serious art form.

Chitrakatha DVD
Researched for over 5 years and shot across India, The documentary is written, directed and produced by Alok Sharma, animation – graphics co-direction by Saumin Patel, captured by cinematographer Neeshank Mathure, Music by Anirban saha, Sound mix for the rough cut is done by Mithun Chakraborty and Praveen who has done editing for the rough cut. It is 90 minutes documentary and they are also planning a FanBoy Limited Edition DVD Cut that might go beyond 2 Hrs. This motion comic has a smooth movement like anime, a little bit of flash and a lot of stop motion.

Alok with Uncle Pai
Speaking to  about the documentary, Alok Sharma, director, Said,“Being a Comic Book Fan all my life and a comic book creator (later as a grown up) all my life it was my dream to meet all the creators and learn from their experiences. Also while growing up I was exposed to the wide range of comic books from all over the world, and it was beautiful to see how our western counterparts have a well-documented history of the medium in their native nations, while despite having a great comic book culture in India that flourished for more than 3 decades, we lacked such history. Suddenly post Virgin Comics Era we saw an upsurge in Media where media was suddenly interested in Comic Books in India. Most of these articles were half cooked, lacked in research and for that matter, were just being able to cover comic books that were easily available in the metros, while the reach of Indian Comic Books was far wider than that. I felt a need to tell the real story behind Indian Comic Books. Being in touch with almost all the Comic Book creators from my childhood came handy, meanwhile I had quit from my job as an assistant director at Big Animation, so the time was right to do something of my own and Chitrakatha was a dream project to start up.”

Alok with late artist Govind Brahmania (Cover artist for Indrajal Comics)
The documentary covers the history, evolution, cultural – social significance as well as the future of Indian comics, through a series of conversational interviews with Indian Comic Book Creators. Chitrakatha features three generations of Comic Book Artists discussing the medium, the passion and the idea that went behind these comic books which cut across the lingual boundaries and are fondly remembered by millions of fans.
Further talking about concept Alok said“I started my professional life as a comic book artist with Gotham Studios, where I was suddenly exposed to some of the best comic art by the masters like Eisner, Alan Moore, Scott McCloud, Jeff Smith, Tezuka, Moebius etc.These creators, celebrities in their own right with massive fan following, were a huge influence on pop culture. I slowly began to understand comics in a new light. I revisited the stuff I’d read as a kid. And realized that we have something incredible unique and special in our own comics culture. This is when the idea of documenting the history and evolution of Indian comic book art germinated in my mind.”
The documentary also throws light on how Comics in India have very efficiently commented on contemporary social issues as well as proved to be a very effective educational tool.For instance, Comics like the Bahadur series in the 70s efficiently commented on contemporary dacoit issue faced by Central India, while vigilante Doga addresses day to day problems faced by the common man today. Comics like Amar Chitra Katha have distinguished themselves as a very effective and entertaining educational tool by retelling the Indian literary classics and history in sequential art form.
This is a story of people who passionately created a world inhibited with dozens of imaginary friends to make generations of Indian kids dream.

Shooting the interview with Late Govind Brahmania (artist- Bahadur)
Talking about the challenges faced while making this documentary Alok shared, “Almost everything about such projects is challenging. Putting your hard earned savings into making your dream project is challenging, the time and effort that such projects demand for is challenging, traveling across India making people understand why do you want to make this film is challenging. Convincing reclusive comic book artists and asking them for an interview is challenging and after shooting almost 100 hours of footage, stitching it together into a 90 minute film is also challenging as hell. But trust me when you love a medium and love the project, all these challenges mean nothing but fun exercise and we are going through a roller coaster ride since we started this project in 2008.But even before we begin rolling, it took almost 5 years of intensive research, out of which last two years were spent in tracing the artists, publishers, traveling, meeting and convincing them for the documentary. The very first generation of Indian comic book creators were already in their mid 70s or 80s they had to be found and interviewed in detail so that we can know their stories, struggles and vision behind the creations which lived in hearts of millions of people. So you can say it was, and still is a pretty challenging process for us.”

Shooting Cartoonist Pran (Chacha Chaudhary)
“I will be taking Chitrakatha to film-fests all over before releasing it for general audience. It might sound like a wishful thinking right now, but I will also be looking for a limited theatrical release, with a sudden awareness about Documentaries and the nature of my film, I think a limited theatrical release would be perfect for Comic book fans to enjoy the film.People keep asking me about the release date of this already delayed documentary all the time. I would just like to thank them for being supportive and remain interested in this project with so much patience and love. Also looking at the expectations they have with this film, we are pushing ourselves to deliver one good film, that’s not only good in the terms of content but also has some interesting visuals. Also, being a self-funded project making Chitrakatha has taken longer than expected, all I can promise now is, the final film will be worth all the wait. Thanks.” concluded Alok
Alok Sharma has worked across media with experience in comics, animation,television, radio, online content and feature films.At present, he is working as a scriptwriter and story consultant on a Walt Disney TV’s upcoming animation film project. Besides that Alok is working as a story artist and content developer for animation content with leading TV Channels and Animation Studios. He is also associated with the latest seasons of Cartoon Network’s Roll No.21.

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