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Colour plus

A balcony in the shape of an upturned jhumka; a throne that appears to be a brocaded turban; a chandelier that resembles a shimmering weaver bird’s nest; rainbow-hued elephants, mojris with eyes and a ghost who looks like a curio out of a Bengal state handicrafts emporium. Playfulness with colour and form suffuse every frame of Shilpa Ranade’s animated movie Goopi Gawaiiya Bagha Bajaiiya, an adaptation of Bengali writer Upendrakishore Raychowdhuri’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. Raychowdhuri’s comic fantasy was most famously adapted for the screen in 1969 by his renowned grandson, Satyajit Ray, but Ranade’s treasure chest of a movie might just build up its own following.

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The flat, two-dimensional figures and backdrops, and what Ranade terms a “staccato feel" to the animation, grew out of the roots of the project. “The drawings dictated how the film should be animated," she explains. “It doesn’t belong to the classical style at all, which has full fluidity and a three-dimensional feel, but follows from the drawings. We could not do full animation, because that would have meant a lot of money and time and people, so we found a way to address the drawing style and the time constraints."

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Ranade’s debut feature is not an “animated version of Satyajit Ray’s movie, though the skeleton belongs to the original", she says. The screenplay mostly sticks to the original, but there are some tweaks. The ghost king, who is the only person impressed by the musicians’ cacophony, grants them four wishes rather than three. Woven into the story are messages against war-mongering and for peace and inclusiveness.

The characters are drawn like dolls, but they are also slightly grotesque, with bulbous eyes, misshapen teeth and curiously shaped bodies. “They are very lovable and endearing, but they are not cute," Ranade says. “I can’t make a cute film, I think."

Goopi Gawaiiya Bagha Bajaiiya will release in theatres later this year.

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