Kireet Khurana is a high- honors graduate from Sheridan College, Canada, considered to be one the finest animation colleges in the world and home to many Oscar winning animators. He has also won 5 President's National Awards and 2 International Awards for his animation films. Kireet is the Director for the upcoming 3D animation – live action feature film Toonpur Ka Superhero; Mr. Khurana is Animation Editor at Studio Systems, Director at Climb Media (I) Pvt. Ltd, and Creative Head at 2nz Animation Co.
CG Today : Welcome, Kireet. Thank you for accepting our invitation to speak with CG Today.
Kireet : Thank you the pleasure is mine.
CG Today : Toonpur Ka Superhero is your latest project which you personally created and directed. Two worlds collide in this film which boasts of live action and animation, with more than two hundred animators, artists and compositors from four studios. How did you manage such an expansive production crew?
Kireet : TKS’ journey started in 2007 Jan. TKS’ one-line concept was germinated in 2007 Jan. The writing team of Raagi Bhatnagar and Mubeen Farooqi (dialogues) got down to the arduous task of writing India’s 1st live-animation film. As we wrote, the technical challenges of the script did cross my mind frequently. But I live by the adage – Do one thing every day that scares you. Cross one barrier at a time. As the director, I had enough scary days till today! But each moment is worth living, especially because if the film does well, it will empower the entire animation Industry. The challenges were seemingly insurmountable but the light at the end of the tunnel was always visible.
After readying the script by April 2007, the biggest challenge initially was whether the Producers would accept a never seen before, live-action & animation concept like TKS. Add to it the fact that I was a first time feature director. TKS was an expensive experiment which required established stars as the script demanded it.But whether they would understand the visualization or believe in my ability to deliver such a complex execution was the question. It was going to be tough to convince people, so we went over-prepared with tons of pre-production materials, references and artworks at our pitches. “Leave nothing to imagination” was the mantra. As we got Ajay Devgn signed up initially & later Kajol signed the movie around June 2007, we went full force into the pre-production of the team. Pre-prod has been one of our strengths. My dream team at 2nz Animation Co. headed by Prashant Shikare has done the entire pre-prod including Design of the film including designing the city of TOONPUR, its characters, locations, props, colour & lighting keys. I am proud of 2nz as a very robust, well oiled and creatively sharp organization by the virtue of having done more than 400 ad films for leading brands. We knew that we could handle TKS once the producers were in, and we had the backing of Bollywood’s biggest couple.
CG Today : Though the blend of live action and animation are not a new technology, they need a high level of accuracy. Tell us about the real challenges faced while making ‘Toonpur Ka Superhero’
Kireet : We had one of the best VFX supervisors on board – Yunus Bukhari to help us with the VFX of the film. I wouldn’t say TKS has one of the best live-animation blends but it sure is the best, one has seen in India. I was focusing a lot on the story and ensuring that the film is entertaining, fast paced and engaging. At the same the time the technicalities were being addressed by my team. There were a lot of hurdles on every single shot as we dealt with technical issues. We have worked hard to resolve them and give out something that is competent. Hopefully it will be liked by the audience.
We were taking one step at a time and breaking down every single creative & technical challenge into small bits of tasks so that it became manageable to tackle multitudes of small problems which would eventually help us complete the film. Each day we were learning and getting better.
CG Today : There is no doubt, the Indian film industry has changed and paving way for children’s films. What was the response of Ajay Devgan and Kajol when you proposed them for ‘Toonpur Ka Superhero’
Kireet : We overcame the initial creative challenge of convincing a producer to back us up (Eros International – Big Screen) and then later the actors for a concept as abstract as TOONPUR which nobody had seen before We had done expansive pre-production work for the presentation to ensure that there is little left to imagination for Ajay, Kajol and the producers. We went over-prepared. Surprisingly Ajay’s response was instantaneous as he said yes to the film after hearing the story for 20 minutes. Kajol too said yes a couple of months later when we pitched it to her independently.
Toonpur has the unique visualization which will endear it to the kids, keep the star power alive in terms of Ajay-Kajol’s presence and help the animation industry simultaneously.
CG Today : The soundtrack for Toonpur ka Superhero on the promotional video is truly exciting. Tell us about the score.
Kireet : The songs have been composed by Anu Malik. The track “Let’s go to Toonpur” was recorded in London and Rishi Rich has been involved with the arrangement of a couple of tracks for Toonpur.
CG Today : The marketing of Toonpur Ka Superhero includes licensing and merchandising. Will you have your finger on the pulse of all the necessary decisions this area of the process will entail?
Kireet : I have been personally involved in mooting the idea of L&M to the producers and have been personally working jointly with the team at Eros International to make the necessary style guides required for the film’s L&M activities. Since Toonpur is a very different film, it requires different kind of marketing. There have been hitches but we are resolving it as we go forward. L&M is not yet strong in this country. Therefore it may not succeed to the extent it does in the West, but the beginning has been made.
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