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In the 'rat' race

Apurva Shah, part of the four-member team which won the Oscar for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects for Ratatouille, in a 'phoner with Sujata Reddy.
Hindustan Times | By Sujata Reddy, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2008 08:28 PM IST

Here's Apurva Shah, part of the four-member team which won the Oscar for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects for Ratatouille.. in a 'phoner with Sujata Reddy.

You must be ecstatic on winning an Oscar.
I'm happy Friends and family have been calling every hour. I know it's a big thrill for them but frankly I've moved on. Already! (Laughs) Well, the movie was wrapped last summer. I've been busy with other projects since.

What are you working on now?
Toy Story III.. it should be out by 2010. Shrek and Finding Nemo, which you worked on earlier, won Oscars too.

Were you expecting to complete a hattrick?
I knew the movie was special. But honestly, I never gave awards a thought. Ratatouille has taken four years to complete.. Actually it took longer. At Pixar we take a fair amount of time to complete a movie because we pay a lot of attention to the story and the look development.

What was most daunting?
(After a thoughtful pause) It would have to be the food, which was central to the story. We had to make it look appetising.. delicious.. which is difficult when it's computer generated.

It is as if you are working on a movie on a tabla maestro, the music score has to be memorable. Ditto with the food a gourmet chef dishes up.

I'm not sure if I'd want a rat and a garbage boy to cook my dinner.
(Laughs) You can't please everyone. The idea is to get your point across. The director, Brad Bird, wanted to play on the tension of making a rodent cook.

He wanted the audience to connect with Remy's aspirations. It's important to do something original and distinctively individualistic, without getting carried away by the herd.

You mentioned India while accepting the award.
I'm always talking about my India connection. I mentioned it again, not on stage but while giving interviews backstage.

You're originally from Godhra in Gujarat, right?
Yes, I can trace my roots back to India. I come down at least once a year. My parents are in Mumbai while my in-laws are in Ahmedabad.

Isn't your wife in the same business?
Yes, she's associated with the visual media and designs movie posters - one of which won an Oscar around four to five years ago.

What about your children?
They're much too young to even want to follow in their parents' footsteps. My sons are aged eight and five. Right now they're learning music.

(Laughs) And when I'm home, we're on the playstation trying to beat one another.

What's your take on the Indian animation industry?
India is an exciting place to be in today - with a lot of creative people getting seriously involved with the animation business.

The scenario won't change overnight, but I see a lot of quality work being delivered two years down the line.

Have you seen any of our animated features?
Hanuman I've seen and Ramayan. It's interesting to see the stories you've grown up hearing being packaged so well on screen.

India has a treasure trove of folk tales and mythology. Once a story is established, it's not difficult coming up with the technology to project it well. We do it all the time at Pixar.

Would you be interested in working on an Indian animated feature?
I wouldn't mind. But it would have to be something really interesting and worth my while.

I saw Taare Zameen Par recently. It has four different kinds of animated sequences and an absorbing storyline.

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