Debanjan Nandy’s 3D animation short film ‘Chhaya’ goes globetrotting

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The short animated 3D movie Chhaya that recently won the best movie (Student’s Category) at Anifest India 2015 is globetrotting as we speak to various festivals.

Debanjan Nandy’s Chhaya has already been officially screened at the Edinburgh international film festival followed by the Anima Mundi festival at Brazil, The movie that took about 15 months of sheer hardwork and patience is all set to travel to Taipei – KDIAF festival followed by Aesthetica (BAFTA qualifying) festival at New York. The movie shall also be screened at the Agora animation festival and De Corfu animation festival in Greece and shall be premiered in USA at the LA Shorts festival this month.


While speaking exclusively to, Debanjan Nandy, the proud director of the animated movie was beaming with joy. He was extremely happy that his team’s efforts have finally paid off. “It was great team work. Filmmaking itself is a team work. If the team connects to the topic and the theme, then it definitely works in favour of the work one is doing. Directing is very tricky, but then they are your team members, your producer, your editor, writer and all others who help you to see the film more clearly. Director is definitely the captain of the ship but not the leader. He can guide not lead,” reveals Nandy, while praising his small yet creative team.


Just like the story’s impact on the audiences, the making of the movie too had an emotional yet inspirational story to tell. The movie that had about 20-25 people working on it also had a visually impaired artist handling the music of the short film. Baluji Shrivastav, the musician who looked after the working of Indian instruments like, Sitar, Surbahar, Tablas and Dilruba in the short film, could not see the movie, was deprived from seeing people appreciating his work. But that did not down his spirits since he could definitely hear his work speak a thousand words; and could feel it work its magic on screen. The god’s special child would respond very well to the Indian flute played by his fellow musician, Jan Hendrickse, who being a foreigner, masters the art of playing the instrument. The movie also had Sylvia Hallett playing another Indian instrument, the Sarangi.


On the musical note, Debanjan had an interesting tale to tell: “I had to sit with the composer for a lot of sessions, (since the composer is from Scotland.) The concept of the story was Indian and plus everybody had loved the message that the movie gives, so everyone was really quick on grasping and learning what they had to for the film. Although I had to sit for a lot of rehearsals to make them understand the Indian instruments just to make things work in favour of the movie and attain the right emotional quotient from the audiences. She (the composer) then went onto composing the theme music for the movie.”


The director and the musicians along with the themed music that was ready by then improvised scene by scene on the spot.  “We were basically trying to match the music to the movie by improvising on it. It was a great teamwork and hardwork put in by the composer and the musician,” added Nandy.

Making Chhaya was no child’s play, it took in a lot of efforts right from convincing the team for the name ‘Chhaya’, a title suggested by Debanjan himself, to making the movie by using the mix media technique and not just letting it be completely CG based. The name was initially suggested as ‘shadow’, but since concept was very Indian in its nature, Debanjan wanted an Indian name and hence this thought gave birth to ‘Chhaya’. (The accurate meaning of shadow in Hindi is Chaya) it just doesn’t end here; the next challenge was to bring into the concept of Mix Media into practicality.


The sets were made in miniature forms, in the form of stop motion. The Actual sets that stood 2 feet wide and 1 feet tall were draped with canvas cloth and then were coated with premiere for oil paintings. The Oil paintings were done on the set itself according to the lighting of the camera. Last came the placing of the CG characters on top on the oil painted textures. And finally the effects used in the movie were done using glass. It was in short a multi-layer set up.

The movie that has been co-written by Katerina Giannakou revolves around an old widower who lives in a care home and who often dreams or fantasises his wife in the form of a shadow that is created whenever he lights a lamp.


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