Five years ago, Akash Abhishek Karmakar left Bihar with a suitcase in hand and travelled 36 hours by train to Mumbai.
Fresh out of the 12th standard, this 19-year-old knew no one in the city besides his elder brother Gunjan. But he had one ambition — to become an animator.
When he first arrived, he thought he would pursue a fine arts degree. But instead, he did a short stint designing animated educational videos for dental patients, earning Rs 6,000 per month. Then, he was snapped up by Prana Studios in Bandra-Kurla Complex, reputed to be the best studio in Mumbai.
Now, the 24-year-old heads a team that designs hair, fur and clothes of animated characters and earns a monthly salary that runs into six figures. It is a world away from Patna, where his mother Alpana is a housewife and his father Sushanto a bank clerk earning Rs 20,000 a month.
“I connected more with computers and art than with people when I was a child,” said Akash, dressed in combat trousers and a striped T-shirt, two earrings glinting on either side of his head, oozing coolness.
“I was never into sport, and I didn’t believe in academia. I taught myself most things. I would draw out lessons or visualise things rather than read text.” At the age of 15, he taught himself 3D animation on his computer in his bedroom. “I just knew that what I was learning was gold,” he said.
Now, he works an 11-hour day directing his team, checking if the quality of hair that will be used on various animated characters is up to scratch and coming up with new designs. In his spare time, he sketches imaginary cartoon characters, listens to music and sculpts.
“Animation is really booming,” he says. “Loads of jobs are coming up, at least for the next five years. It’s like an explosion, like the IT boom was. My job is very varied and dynamic. There is lots of energy at work and lots to learn from other people. That’s why I enjoy it.”