KOCHI: Picture this. An early morning temple visit in Kerala, walking through flooded paddy fields. You’re clutching the end of your mother’s saree. At times, both of you would trip and fall and you would get quite the beating. In your head, you’ve conjured shades of green — pine, the lime of paddy fields infused with mud and slush, the occasional dragonfly, while the sweltering heat mingles with the scent of jasmine strung in your mother’s hair. The colours are as vivid as they can get. Kollam native Gokul G Prasad envisioned the same in pastel hues, emulating the picturesque aesthetics of Studio Ghibli films.
A student at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Gokul’s eye for detail and astute imagination helped him conceptualise the imagery. “I remember watching ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ and contemplating that this setting could look fantastic in a Ghibli style aesthetics. That’s how the whole Kerala-meets-Studio Ghibli series started,” says Gokul, who fell in love with the production house’s movies ever since he watched ‘Spirited Away’ in 2016.
The artist started young. “Though I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, the frequency increased during Class XI; I started posting on Instagram around the same time. Studying at NID has also helped me tremendously. Being surrounded by talented people helps,” he says.
Gokul intends to continue the sequence and better it. While he would describe his work as exploratory, Gokul tends to keep his art distinct from activism. “There are many accounts on Instagram dedicated to those, by people who are more well-read than me. I want my account to be more of a place where anyone can come and feel at home, and for some moments forget about all the crazy stuff happening nowadays,” he adds.
Check out his work on Instagram under @kaapicino.Old and new
While ‘Kumabalangi Nights’ served as his first inspiration, ‘My Dear Kuttichathan’ was his next pick to be reimagined as an animated movie, with reference from the Japanese animated fantasy film ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Gokul’s childhood in Kerala steered the rest of the array. “My work tends to be very Kerala-centric because I am a Malayali and that’s what I can most easily relate to. Even though I like playing around with colours a lot, I tend to stick to lighter pastel hues giving the image a softer, more inviting feeling,” explains Gokul.
The Japanese animation film studio, celebrated for movies including Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Ponyo, is known for its presentation of beautiful landscapes, visually stimulating food and strong woman characters. Under Gokul’s observant eye and adept fingers, lotus ponds and fields in God’s Own Country are now scenes straight out of Studio Ghibli’s movies!