She is loud, plump and manly. She is a working woman, lonely but happy, and nurtures a dream — to own an autorickshaw. This fisherwoman realises her dream and there begins her love story with her hard-earned tuk-tuk. Together, the two have created a huge buzz in the world of animation, winning hearts as well as awards across the globe. The film Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk has earned its director Suresh Eriyat his first National Award. The 15-minute film is the winner in the Best Animation Film category for 2015. In Delhi to attend the award ceremony on Tuesday evening, Eriyat says he sees a bright future for Indian animation industry through different mediums, visuals and thought-provoking films.
His protagonist is the quintessential Mumbai fisherwoman — aggressive, loud and talkative. So, what drew him to her? He says, “I thought what was perceived of them might not be their real character; there could be a softer side to them. The genesis of the story was from there.”
With the film getting acceptance from the viewers, Eriyat hopes to build on the character and weave more stories around her. Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk is, however, quite “dark”, in Eriyat’s own words, and targets a mature audience. “It’s not regular comedy stuff.
It’s something that we have tried as an experiment, from our own funding, our own learning,” says Eriyat, an NID-Ahmedabad alumnus.
The film has till now won 13 awards and 35 nominations. And by doing so, Eriyat believes, it has “taken India to a global map of people who tell stories with animation”. Fisherwoman is his first attempt at a short story in animation. As the founder and creative director of Studio Eeksaurus, Eriyat is a known name in the advertisement world, having given India its first clay model characters such as Chintamani (for ICICI) and Amaron battery. He has also dabbled with sand art in animation, with his Rajasthan Tourism ad getting rave reviews. Eriyat is keen on pursuing animation-related projects on a wider scale. “Indians are usually known more for their technical skills rather than creativity. Behind this film, our intent was also to put our storytelling skills on the global map,” he says.
“In India, there are very few films that tell the story and are also technically sound. For us to have made this film and make the world sit up and notice is a big deal. The fact that we made this without any financial support from outside gives us the confidence to do more of this,” says Nalini, his wife and producer of the film. Next on the agenda for the couple is to create original content for children and grown-ups. “I am really looking at talking to the grown-ups through animation, because they still think of animation as cartoons,” adds Nalini.
The duo have also been working on a full-length animation feature film, an action thriller, but feel it’s not time yet to go to town with it. “We are holding ourselves back because we are not sure if India is ready for an action thriller in animation yet,” says Eriyat.