Dressed in white kurta and pyjamas, he walked into the Travancore Hall, Park Center, and everyone present rose to their feet applauding – in admiration and reverence – for this legend of Indian animation. As he descended the stairs with folded hands as a form of greeting, one could not fail to see the deep humility that this man has amassed over the years with his work and experience.
At Animation Masters Summit 2017, Bhimsain Khurana was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the animation industry in India. Toonz Media, CEO, P. Jayakumar felicitated him with a Ponnada (a white scarf with golden border) and a wooden sculpture designed by the venerated sculptor Kanayi Kunjiraman to symbolise “Bhimsain Khurana’s creativity flying across the limitless sky of animation.”
Who has not heard of “Ek titli, anek titliya, ek gilhari, anek gilheriya”? An anthem for the 70s kids which is still resonated with one and all. Na, Ek-Do, Fire, Munni, Freedom is a Thin Line, Mehman, Kahani Har Zamne Ki, Business is People are some of his works which won him National and International awards.
Bhimsain loved drawing and colouring since his childhood. He used to skip his classes to watch animated movies. And one day, he became a creator himself. His first animation short film – The Climb won him the prestigious Silver Hugo award at the Chicago Film Festival. Since then, there has been no looking back. Ek Anek Ekta (1974) is considered as India’s most popular animation short film and was followed by path breaking feature films Gharaonda (1977) and Dooriyaan (1979) and many TV series and documentaries bringing him accolades and awards galore.
When asked what challenges he had encountered as a pioneer of the art of animation in India, he told AnimationXpress, “When we started animation, there was no appreciation of the art. Hence, we were driven by an inner force.” And this passion helped him carve a niche at that time.
In 1991, he revitalised the Indian animation scenario by making India’s first computer aided animation series Lok Gatha based on folk tales, which fetched him three National Awards. Apart from this, he was also asked to create a 26 episodes animation series by Doordarshan named Vartmaan.
“When you start, you imitate. But when growth happens, you begin to enjoy,” he said. “The youth should understand this. Hardwork is a must. There are no shortcuts in this field,” he said, explaining how they used to create numerous drawings for a simple movement. He feels that his animated movies had a mass appeal because they were “created with heart and soul.” Commercialisation eats everything, he stated. “Animation is a powerful medium. Hence, enjoy the moment of creating something and indulge in everything you do.”
When asked why is his book titled ‘Incomplete Story of Animation,’ he said it was because the story keeps continuing, it never stops. A director, producer, ad-film maker, lyricist, musician, poet and painter, the man who has donned multiple hats in his lifetime has only one message to give to the youth: Work work work. “Show people what you’ve created, so the cycle keeps going.”