Friday, October 14, 2011

Best 3D Animation + Best Lighting & Compositing at Jaipur Animation Film Festival

Nice to receive these awards at an animation only festival. Jaipur is a lucky city for Topi - the film previously received the Critics' Award at the Jaipur International Film Festival.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Express Tribune 'Video of the Day'

Topi just got a 'thumbs up' in Pakistan's Express Tribune:

"We all grew up listening to accounts of what happened during the 1947 partition, but Topi, a unique, animated short film, explores the sad tale of what the poor people of both countries went through in a new artistic perspective.

Said to be the only animated film on this topic, Topi is a story of a Hindu boy named Bir who migrated to India from Pakistan along with many other fellow Hindus.

For many, the partition was a moment of grief which forced them to leave their homeland for a new destination; a home they never asked for. This short animated film managed to capture the essence of this largely unexplored aspect of the migration.

Video rating: Thumbs up, for making a film on what people went through during the migration and not what people at the helm of power struggled for. "

Monday, September 19, 2011

'River Admiration Award' at Silent River Film Festival

I was happy to hear that Topi received the 'River Admiration Award' at the Silent River Film Festival, which ran from Sept 9-16 in Irvine, California. This prize is 'given to an outstanding Film, outstanding Actor and outstanding Actress', and Topi was honored in the Student Short Animation category.

(Topi was also nominated for Best Film and Best Director).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Indian Film Festival of Hope

This was a small festival that was held on August 13th and 14th in San Francisco. One of the organizers recorded the Q&A for Topi on a cellphone, and I've managed to upload a few short segments.

Style of the film:


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Visual Communications (the organization behind the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival) is featuring Topi in 'Pow! Whiz! Bam!', its upcoming animation mini-film festival on August 6 in LA's Little Tokyo.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paris-Delhi-Bombay pics

I just received these pics of the space in which Topi is being exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The entrance to the space is through giant 'eyes', and the interior contains a salon in which visitors can experience Indian music, websites, and video.

Photos by: shang
I love the image of the curious little boy watching Topi.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Centre Pompidou, Paris

'Topi' is being featured in an exhibition on contemporary Indian art called 'Paris Delhi Bombay' at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from May 24 to September 5.
The official flyer
This modern art museum is my favorite in Paris, and I'm still in shock that my film is playing there. I found a video about the exhibition, and also dug up a few of the pictures I took at the museum during my 2008 trip to France.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The last post-it

Found while cleaning today

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Morning at James Lick Middle School

This morning, I spent a very engaging first period presenting 'Topi' to a group of sixth graders at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco. The screening was timely since the children have been learning about India in the context of studying water and related issues, and have also been corresponding with pen pals from an international school in India. This was a much bigger group than the one at Good Samaritan, and questions flew at me from all directions. Some favorites: 'Why are the people in the film wearing two different colors of clothing?' 'Do you have a pen pal?' 'If you could change anything about the film, would you?' I was impressed with their understanding of film and cinema, and was especially happy to hear that they were learning about India in class.

(Another fantastic visit organized by Rocio from SFIFF, and thanks also to Averel Wilson and all the other teachers at James Lick for hosting us).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Early Artwork

I found these early sketches while cleaning recently.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Samaritan Family Resource Center visit

As part of the San Francisco International Film Festival's outreach to local schools, I visited the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center in San Francisco this past weekend, where I screened 'Topi' for a group of nine inquisitive 8th-graders.

In our introduction prior to the screening, it became clear that the children had not been taught much Indian history in school. But they picked up the message and ideas in the film quickly, and raised many insightful questions afterwards. Many of the children were Latin American and could see the parallels between the British Empire and the Spanish colonization of the Americas. They were familiar with Mahatma Gandhi, and I was able to use the film as a tool to discuss his role in this period of Indian history.

We had a thought-provoking discussion about the meaning of the prayer cap, religious conflicts, and many other aspects of the film. But inevitably, many of their questions were about India in general and there was a real curiosity about this faraway part of the world. Among my favorites: 'Are there gangs in India?' 'Do people dance a lot in India?' 'Are you the little boy in the film?' In fact, there were so many questions that we could not get to all of them in the hour-long visit.

Too often at a film festival, I end up analyzing films solely on the basis of individual aspects such as sound, story, cinematography, etc. But this visit brought me back to the idea that a film is a window to an entire world, real or imagined. Without a doubt, this has been the most rewarding screening of 'Topi' to date.

(Thanks to SFIFF's Rocio Salazar for organizing the visit and to Andrea Chicas from the Good Samaritan Youth and Youth Services for hosting us).

San Francisco International Film Festival Update

Opening night at the Castro Theatre
The hot seat

I had a great time presenting Topi at SFIFF. It screened three times as a part of the 'Get with the Program' block of animated shorts, and was featured in various publicity materials. I was able to make it to all three screenings, and stuck around to answer questions afterwards. The audiences were fantastic and were interested in many different aspects of the film including the personal connection, the historical context, and the animation process.

One film student asked, "Would you change anything?" To be honest, I'd change everything if I could because I've learned so much since the film was completed and reflected even more on each plot point, character, and cut since I completed it. At every viewing, I want to change something different about the film to see if that would make it better. And yet, despite its flaws, I'd change nothing because making the film was such a terrific learning experience. I had many other prolonged conversations with audience members about the film, and it was wonderful to see 'Topi' received so well.

A few mentions:

Nice program
The festival is really well run and very filmmaker-centric, with a particularly awesome hospitality lounge for folks representing films. I got to meet quite a few directors as well, and it's exciting to reconnect with such a vibrant local film scene. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Best Short Film nominee at New York Indian Film Festival

Topi missed out on Best Short Film but it's still fantastic to be nominated for the award at one of the most prestigious Indian film festivals around.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

San Francisco International Film Festival

Topi will be part of the Get with the Program block that screens on Apr 23, Apr 27 and May 5. I'm hoping to attend at least one of the screenings in person.

Having been around since 1957, SFIFF is the "longest-running film festival in the Americas."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario is going to feature my short films 'Topi', 'Abridged' and 'Arjuna' as part of their March Break family week that is themed "Maharaja". It's great to see the films screened in an institutional setting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Well, sort of. Topi didn't make it into Annecy last year, but when it won Best Student Film at Animation Block Party in 2009, I was invited to create an environmentally-themed public service announcement for ABP 2010. This resulted in 'Switch Today', a stop-motion short that makes the case for using recycled toilet paper, and I was thrilled to learn that this 1-minute piece has just been selected by Annecy 2011 in the Educational, Scientific or Industrial Films category.

'Switch Today' was my first real attempt at stop-motion and was created entirely in my apartment, where I came face-to-face with the many challenges of dealing with gravity, glue and green screen.

Some behind-the-scenes images:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pics from Great Wall of Oakland

I just got these images of Topi being projected onto the 100 ft x 100 ft Great Wall of Oakland in November as part of a group Pixar screening. The wall is a public venue located in downtown Oakland.

They also screened my previous film, 'Abridged':

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shamiana Shorts

Shamiana Shorts has been exhibiting Topi as part of a traveling film festival that was recently in my hometown, Pune. The venue was down the street from my home so my parents were able to make it, which was great.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Topi has 100,000 hits on YouTube

I spent a long debating whether to put Topi online, but I'm glad I did. Despite a slow start, this week the film crossed 100,000 views, largely due to a viral response in India during September 2010. I'd never imagined that so many people would watch the film, and it's tremendously gratifying to have access to viewers' reactions, something that's not always possible at film festivals. One of my favorite comments was posted by mrvirenjn:

"This reminds me of what my grandfather once told me, when he had to migrate to India after partition.He actually missed the train he was supposed to be on.And people on that train were slaughtered before it could reach Amritsar.I could never have been born,and this video really made me feel for that boy when he lost his mother.Partition was terrible.This video just reminds us of the innate goodness in human beings.Of how it was and how it should have been."

In the stress of trying to finish the film and get it out there, it's easy to get lost in the intricacies of composition, animation, sound, festivals, etc and forget about the bigger picture. But hearing viewer responses such as the one above reminds me of why I chose to do this project, and why films that are actually about something are so vital.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Critics' Award at Jaipur International Film Festival

Just heard about the award - Topi was also selected to screen on opening night!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The real Bir

On a recent trip to India, I met up with Gurshish Dhupar, who voiced Bir in the film. It's the first time I had seen him since our recording sessions in December 2007. He's a lot taller now and his voice has changed quite a bit too :) but he is still a bright, confident, budding animator and is very interested in 3D stereoscopic filmmaking. I'm sure this is not his last acting gig either.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Screening Update

YES INDIA Film Festival, Auckland, New Zealand: October 28-November 3, 2010
ASIFA-Hollywood Student Film Festival, Long Beach, California: November 6, 2010
Boston Asian American Film Festival, Boston, Massachusetts: November 11-14, 2010
REELkids Film Festival, Ontario, Canada: January 17-20, 2011
Jaipur International Film Festival, Jaipur, India: January 27-30, 2011 (Topi was one of the films screened on opening night)
India International Film Festival of Tampa bay, Tampa, FL: February 18-20, 201