'You can't just turn up for work and do the hours; you need passion' Akash Karmakar tells Naomi Canton of his work as an animator.
Why do you like animation?
I love watching characters do things that can't be done in real life and using my imagination to come up with characters that have never existed, giving life to them and teaching them how to walk and jump, and interacting with them and becoming friends with them. It is like believing and creating your own reality. It is a very satisfying career. You can create anything. It is a virtual world so anything is possible. When you create a character, you give it a personality, you decide how that character will blink, how its lips will move.
What's the best and worst thing about your job?
The best thing is having new challenges every day. It's never repetitive; you have to be constantly innovative. The worst thing is that it takes time. Sometimes things get stuck because of waiting for approvals from the management.
Could I learn the software?
Yes. But once you have mastered it you have simply mastered a language. To be good requires experience.
Do you want to see more Indian animations based on mythology?
No. I want to see new generation characters come out of India, like some crazy Swamis.
Whom does this job attract?
People who are middle-class tend to work hard so it suits them. Even people who are not creative can do it. Some are engineering dropouts; often they are into IT or art. Some are civil engineers and other career changers. Most are graduates, but it attracts a lot of 12th standard leavers too. At first, it attracted geeks -- people who would sit in front of their computer all day or people who had long braided hair and smoked dope. Now I think it has become trendy; it's seen as a cool career now. I think that's because salaries have gone up and it has more media coverage.
What kind of people are they?
They are not the hard-core partying types because you have to work so hard. But a normal 9-to-5 type would not suit this job. You also need to be ambitious. Sometimes you spend 16 hours in the office so your personal and professional life blends. There are lots of relationships in the office and lots of marriages. A lot of people find their matches there.
It's for people who don't want to be lawyers or businessmen, and want to use the creative side of their brain. You can't just turn up for work and do the hours; you need passion, and you need to keep up with industry trends in your spare time. The first two years are very tough.
How good at art were you as a child?
Art was the only thing I was good at as a child. I could always visualise, draw and colour characters, cartoons and cars. I often won the first prize in painting competitions. I'm not really a sporty person. When kids in my neighbourhood used to play cricket or badminton, I used to stay in my room drawing under a dim light. I had difficulty reading. I would loose the flow of the words and sentences and would have difficulty with the basic meaning. So instead I just kept drawing and watching cartoons to keep my imagination going. I used to love seeing cartoons on TV and then later draw them from my head.