THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There are those you meet and forget. Then there are those you meet and they leave a part of them with you. Meeting Prosenjit Ganguly is like that. Anyone who has met Prosenjit or PJ, as he is known, would affirm he infuses in one a sense of spirit and excitement which you’ll be soaked in for a really long time. His passion for his work reflects in his eyes and mien. A highly excited PJ meets you, donning a cap, one among the vast array of 20 caps he has. PJ, a world-renowned animation film designer is in the city as a resource person to participate in the national level art camp ‘akhi’ organised at the Fine Arts College.
The city isn’t new to him. But the college is. He has spent a significant 13 year period in the city. But he never visited the Fine Arts College. “I was always intimidated by the atmosphere here and felt the world of art was too heavy. But I should have visited then,” he adds while sharing a few chapters of his life. He first visited Thiruvananthapuram for a project in clay animation in Toonz, and there was no going back for several years. Although PJ makes occasional visits to the city for work and loves coming over, he says he wouldn’t want to spend too much time in the city. “I feel the city has taken a lot away from me on many levels,” he smiles.
It isn’t surprising that for someone who is driven just by his endless passion for crafting stories and animating, the earliest memory is just of drawing. “In fact, it is the only memory I have. I was always drawing and creating things,” he adds. He got introduced to the vast possibility of animation at the prestigious National Institute of Design (NID).
“I just knew that this is all I want to do,” he says excitedly. That was in 1993 when animation was at its nascent stage in India. And now at a young age of 44, he towers with several international recognitions and boasts an illustrious career. Apart from making animation series for Cartoon Network and the like, conducting workshops, working on overseas projects, Prosenjit is also a voice artist.
“The idea was never to get a job and I never imagined to make a living out of it,” he says and adds how animation is purely a passion driven job and recalls how he even forgot to collect his first month’s salary. He voices his concern when students ask him if they will get a government job or the money they could earn in the field. “I get upset when they ask me if it is a safe job,” he says. “Animation is a language to be used for storytelling and shouldn’t be technology driven,” he adds with conviction. One aspect he intends to focus in the camp is to drive in the point of not imitating. “We have been imitating for way too long. Where are you in your work individually?” he asks.
PJ and his friend and noted animation director Vaibhav Kumaresh have recently formulated an animation programme at DJ Academy of Design. The four-year ‘Animation film Design’ course intends to break the present concept of teaching and lets the students grow individually in a wholesome manner. The course, which has a limited seat of 15, will be taught by visiting faculties.
“Except a single resident faculty to coordinate the programme, the rest will be visiting faculty. We intend to give the best in each field to the students,” he adds. The curriculum is tailor-made for the academy and PJ says the course has been structured in such a way that for the first two years not a single input is made through the computer.
He speaks with passion and delight, as he dwells on the wild and the animals, which represents a world he is eternally passionate about. “Whichever work I undertake, the environment has to come in,” he says. He is presently working on an animation feature movie against poaching. “I love all forms of life and I cannot resist cuddling a street dog if I see one,” he chuckles. He adds how following a plant-based diet for the past three years has changed his life and doesn’t refrain from expressing his concerns about consumerism and human-induced environmental degradation.
“I just hope that our children don’t have their children. We are leaving a very bad planet for our children,” he says. Even his visiting card is an extension of his passion for the wild. It carries his painting of a small green bee-eater. He dreams of making a film which will leave the audience feeling stronger and positive. He further nurtures a dream of having an open space where young people can come and grow together, with full respect for need and not greed, where the joy of working gets precedence over career and health gets precedence over looks. A utopian concept, but a glorious dream indeed.