CG Today : With the rebirth of Kathaa, what are the things that you are looking to do differently to accomplish greater success?


Prakash : I am going back to the basics – Revenue minus cost = profit. It took me 10 years to learn what I already knew; having said that, at this moment, I am not focusing on animation but more on live-action projects. The most important aspect when we started Kathaa was to tell stories. So in a way, the DNA stays the same, the medium changes.

When you talk about success, what do you actually mean? Is it crores of turnover? Is it the amount of people you employ? Is it acknowledgement of your peers? Of the people? I think success has different meanings. Our success would lie in telling stories, and it has been a long time since we did.

CG Today : Waiting for Sunshine in the valley is a documentary created by Kathaa. Can you tell us more about the evolution of the concept and why you chose the Kashmir insurgency as a topic?

Waiting for sunshine in the valley

Prakash : It is a shelved project. But the idea was a very exciting one. A friend of mine closely works with a group who do trips that enlightens you on many issues. The idea was to interview the participants about their opinion on Kashmir. Take them there and capture their interaction with the locals and after the trip ask the participants the same questions and see the difference. Unfortunately a day before we were to go there, the Amarnath issue came up and there was curfew announced in Srinagar, and the project got stalled.


 

CG Today : The graphic novel, Sea Prince comes up with a wonderful concept with Kara, going into the sea in pursuit of destiny. How is a graphic novel developed once the initial draft and concept are in place? Are the characters locked or do you allow for evolution until the final stages?

Prakash : Sea Prince, as I mentioned earlier was planned as a feature length film. One of the key persons involved in the project started specializing in graphic novels. It was his idea of making Sea Prince into a graphic novel. It is too early to comment on how it is getting evolved.

Sea Prince - Graphic Novel

CG Today : You worked for Morpheus Media Ventures, which has quite a few releases to its name, which is impressive considering that it is still quite young. How was your work experience there? How did the impulse to revive Kathaa come about?

Prakash : It is here that I realized the business model before the acquisition with the animation major was the right thing Smile

CG Today : As a supervisor of Web Interactives for Purple Image Technology, you were involved in developing a strategy based flash game for CID, a very popular TV series based on detectives. Can you tell us more about this game that was nominated for Chip Multimedia CD Awards?

Prakash : I don’t remember much except that it was the first time I put my hands into programming and the project got nominated. But I certainly don’t enjoy programming and definitely don’t like playing games. It was an irony for everyone that I made a game and it got nominated!

CG Today : You have spent a fair amount of time as a trainer for animation students and have also designed Tutorial CDs. Do you enjoy being trainer and do you think it adds value to those who are skilled animators?

Prakash : Training is always good for you if there are good students around because you can learn a lot from their ignorance. I became a trainer when I was still learning the tools of animation in the same institute. But let me also clarify, I am not an animator. My purpose of learning animation software was only to know the possibilities of it .I became a trainer because I couldn’t get any other job. One good thing about becoming a trainer after you have just learnt the software is that you get to practice the software and get paid for it too.

CG Today : As the CEO of an animation studio, can you throw some light on some of the distinguishing factors between a small set up and a larger studio? What should the small studio owners keep in mind especially when they are looking to compete with the bigger setups in the industry?

Prakash : I believe that being a small set up has a lot of advantages. Unless you aim to be an outsourcing focused studio, you are never in competition with the bigger studios. I think the magic of growth is achieved by doing work better than the last time.

As for things to keep in mind - Keep your costs low. Treat your employees well. Listen to them. Keep some time aside every week to interact and share ideas. You might be sitting with the next Miyazaki. Never underestimate the power of being small. Big Studios have huge expenses to take care of. Dreams get lost when investors ask for your balance sheet. I believe that is why, no big animation company in India has been able to develop a feature length film in-house. Most of the films- Dashavtar, Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang, Krishna etc. are made by relatively smaller animation studios. Don’t look at the quality, look at their intention. The future of animation in India rests with some small studio somewhere in the corner of this country. It might be yours.

CG Today : From your experience, what do you think are the positives of running an animation studio in India? What are the negatives?

Prakash : I don’t think there are any negatives. Difficulties are a part of life, we can only learn from it and that is a positive thing.

CG Today : Mr. Prakash, Thank you for your precious insights and all the best for your future endeavours.

Prakash : My pleasure, Krish.

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Prakash Nambiar - Founder and CEO of Kathaa Animations,

Mumbai, India.

Website: Katha Animations

e-mail : praxie [at] gmail [dot] com

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Prakash Nambiar is the founder and CEO of Kathaa Animations, a pioneer in Indian animation industry, having created the adorable cartoon characters of Hum Tum. Prakash had also served previously as the Creative Head at Morpheus Media Ventures and Animation Dimensions. His career graph includes a lot of experience at various levels including being Technical Head at Image Software and a member of the faculty at Image Mac Academy. Prakash shares a great passion for storytelling and making of short films.


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