An animated sequence inspired by illustrations of Indian pulp book covers creates magical realism in Indrajit Nattoji’s film “Aafat-e-Ishq”.
Aafat-e-Ishq, the latest Bollywood directorial venture from acclaimed commercial filmmaker Indrajit Nattoji ‘magical realism’ themed harp inspired by the illustrative styles of the retro-lithographic Indian pulp book cover. Whether it is the design sequence for the opening title or the major fantasy sequence, the film is made up of wonderful animation, hand-painted digital painting, and visual effects. Zee5’s original starring Neha Sharma amplifies how animation and special effects play a vital role in bringing such tales to life.
âThe treatment of the film is like a graphic novel, and the story is like a modern day fable. The film is made up of elements of dark humor, magical realism and fantastic metaphors. For example, the character of Atma is a “pisach” (ghoul) who feeds on his insecurities. His colorful filmed appearance is belied by his grim metaphor of isolation and mental illness, âNattoji told Animation Xpress in a detailed interview.
Aafat-e-Ishq currently airing on the OTT platform is an adaptation of the award-winning Hungarian film Liza and the fox fairy, which is totally molded according to Indian sensibilities. An in-movie fantasy tale is an integral part of the plot of this supernatural romantic thriller.
Sharing the narrative that leads us to the ethereal world created in the film, the director said, âLal Bet, a story created by my writer Neha Bahuguna and me for Aaaft-e-Ishq, is based on tragic love stories of mythical courtesans from Indian folklore. In the film, Shok Sundari was a beautiful courtesan who wielded considerable power in an ancient kingdom. She falls in love with a condemned man. Subsequently betrayed by him, she kills him. Shok Sundari becomes a “Lal Pari”, a forest nymph cursed for being alone forever, as anyone who falls in love with her soon dies. Lallo, the film’s protagonist, is an avid reader of romantic pulp novels.
Over the course of events, she finds a book called ‘LAL PARI’ (The Red Fairy). The book has an illustrated fold-out poster that Lallo sets up in her bedroom and becomes obsessed with it. Soon her life becomes strewn with pitfalls when her suitors face mysterious accidental deaths, and she becomes the prime suspect. Lallo, who is still in his own world of romance and magic, tells the story to his ghostly friend Atmaram and the audience enters the world of ‘Lal Pari’, in a graphically illustrative animation sequence.
Animation, titles and graphics for the film were produced by Nattoji’s own production house, Blink Pictures. The animation ‘Lal Pari’ had Priyankar Gupta as illustrator and animator, Nattoji being the animation director.
âTo create this animated sequence, I scoured the portfolios of many artists, and ultimately, Priyankar Gupta’s vibrant illustration work caught my eye. I researched the illustrative styles of retro-lithographic Indian pulp book covers, based on which I commissioned and supervised Priyankar to create book covers for “Lal Pari”, then I visualized a storyboard based on the script. I shot the fantastic footage with my actor Neha Sharma, and the edited footage was then digitally hand painted and animated by Priyankar in an ‘Indian Pulp’ book print style, âhe revealed.
The former National Institute of Design student who recently created a hand-painted music video for Kavita Seth Rangi saari and exhibited his paintings in art galleries in Kolkata and Mumbai, handled the creative direction of the feature film for the team. He further mentioned that the film had a “bold graphic opening title design sequence that features ghostly prints on paper edited with typography.” The final title design sequence is a series of animated Hindi book covers illustrated by the director himself. The overall typographic packaging of the film alludes to that of a book.
âThe graphics and typography for the film were produced by Akash Raichura and Rayna Batvia, respectively. The hand-painted moths were performed by Swapnil Mestry, which were later brought to life by the VFX studio. Tushar Sabharwal, my assistant chief director, oversaw the post-production and visual effects on my end, âNattoji said.
Speaking about the different software used in the film, the expert with over 22 years of experience shared: âProcreate, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects were used for the illustrations and the artistic rotoscope for the animation ‘Lal Pari’ and the ‘Film Title Design’ sequences. . Graphics in the film were done in Photoshop, while composites and visual effects were done by Post House using a combination of 3D and high-end composition software.
Animation can be both an individual art form and a collaborative process, he says.
âThe range of techniques and styles of animation that a story requires can be immense. It can range from a simple line drawing by a lone artist to a complex and extremely edited animation that requires the collaborative skills of multiple 3D and 2D artists and various technologies. But whatever the means, you have to tell a good and engaging story at the end of the day, âhe said.
Leaving hints of his upcoming works which will once again have breathtaking visual moments, Nattoji said: âI started a film installation project for a museum on the journey and birth of India as that republic. I can’t reveal much about the project, but it is an exciting and immersive audiovisual experiential project that involves animation, film, music, and sound design. Additionally, I created the visual design and visual effects for a feature film that will soon be released on a top OTT platform. I am also in pre-production for my next feature film.
When asked if he would make an animated feature film, he replied, “I would love to, but the investment of time and effort required for an animated film is enormous, and I hope I can brave it at some point in my career. ”