The animation industry in India – though only a few decades old – has given us some great artists and creative minds. Among them are a few notable contributors from the fairer sex, to name a few of the contemporary talents there is Gitanjali Rao, Shilpa Ranade, Gayatri Rao, Charuvi Agrawal, Nupur Bhargava, among many others. But, there is one woman who has taken it upon herself to train the stars of tomorrow in the field of animation, and it is none other than Tehzeeb Khurana.
Acclaimed award-winning animator- Tehzeeb – is a celebrated animation director with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Equipped with a commercial arts background; a cartooning training under Mario Miranda and a thorough and in-depth knowledge of animation art and history, she has revolutionised the way animation is taught to children in India. She is the founder and curriculum designer of Toon Club, the award winning animation education arm of parent studio Climb Media India. Her pioneering efforts have culminated in appending animation as part of a few school curriculums as well. And films created by kids under her creative supervision have received International acclaim and awards.
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit one of her classes, which she conducts on Saturdays and its simply mesmerising to see the way she works with kids from ages 7 to 14 years. She got interested in working with kids during the growing up days of her own son Kabeer and thought that there should be a way for kids to explore their creative side, and this is when Tehzeeb conceptualised and formed the Toon Club back in 2003.
This petite and pretty mother of a 17 year old young boy, has come a long way ever since she began her mission of giving kids a platform to express their thoughts through the medium of animation. The most unique aspect of Toon Club is the fact that the kids are only taught animation with the use of paper and pencils (read traditional hand drawn animation).
Tehzeeb (or Tezaab Aunty as she’s fondly called by her students) makes kids do different activities, which helps them to learn everything about the fundamentals of animation. She uses basic things like wikki sticks, beads, clay and many more such household objects to explain these fundamentals. This helps the kids to learn a lot; and they are also taught about the history of animation through movies and small videos, as Tehzeeb feels it is important for them to know how things started in the first place before venturing into it themselves.
But, where there are kids there is utter chaos! It’s almost unbelievable how Tehzeeb manages to keep track of all the kids during the class, while also managing to keep them engaged with her hypnotising enigma and child like enthusiasm, as we are all aware how kids at this age have such low attention spans. While speaking to a parent on the sidelines we also found out what young parents are looking for in this age of technology and gizmos to get their young ones to tap their hidden talents.
“I honestly can’t imagine what I would have done if I were to be in Tehzeeb’s place. The way she manages to keep all the kids engaged, while also having fun, I can’t even think of doing that with my two kids,” informed Lata, a mother of a 9-year-old boy and 12-year-old daughter. “Its necessary for kids to have some outlet to continue to connect with their creative side with so much of pressure at school, and I believe Tehzeeb is doing a fabulous job with Toon Club. My kids always make excuses for other extra classes, but when its Saturday they are up early and don’t even mind coming in half an hour earlier for their sessions.”
Toon Club has kids coming from all across Mumbai, right from Powai, Chembur, South Mumbai and even other suburbs. Tehzeeb has no plans of stopping anytime soon, but would certainly be needing a few extra hands with the growing popularity of the club and with friends like Vaibhav Kumaresh always ready to take that occasional workshop, its a fun place to learn the art of animation.
As the saying goes, ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman'; but Tehzeeb is even luckier to have that successful man being her strongest pillar of support. Her husband, Kireet Khurana (fondly called Create Uncle by Tezaab’s students) is a high honours graduate from Sheridan College, Canada in a 3-year film-making course. He has won 5 President’s National Awards, 3 Int’l Awards besides & 20 assorted awards for his short films. And has directed 400+ ad films for leading brands and agencies.
Tehzeeb began her career under the guidance of Kireet and as they say the rest is history. She also assists Kireet as the creative head at Climb Media and works on the conceptualisation and design stages of all the commercial work that comes in. But, Toon Club is something that takes up a lot of Tehzeeb’s time and she isn’t complaining at all as she is very fond of kids and teaching comes naturally to her.
The Indian animation industry is proud to have this lovely couple doing a whole world of good for kids and adults alike. The work that Tehzeeb has been doing – for well over a decade – with young kids is honestly not just commendable, but also worthy of a standing ovation! We tip our hat to you Tehzeeb, continue bringing smiles to many more faces and the herculean humanitarian efforts…