Roadside Romeo nominated for American animation award

NEW DELHI: Even as India anxiously awaits the outcome of the Oscars, Roadside Romeo, directed by Jugal Hansraj, has been nominated by the Hollywood-based Visual Effects Society (VES) in the category of "Outstanding Animation in an Animated Motion Picture".

The film, which had animation by Tata Elxsi‘s Visual Computing Labs (VCL) studios in Mumbai, will compete with films like Bolt (Walt Disney Pictures), Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks Animation), Wall-E (Disney-Pixar), and Waltz With Bashir (Sony Pictures Classics).

Roadside Romeo was released in October last year and had the voices of Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Jaaved Jafferi, Sanjay Mishra, and Tanaaz Currim with lyrics by Jaideep Sahni and music by Salim Sulaiman.

The Visual Effects Society, with more than 1,800 members in 17 countries, is the entertainment industry‘s only organisation representing the full breadth of visual effects practitioners including artists, technologists, studio leaders, supervisors and producers in all areas of entertainment from film, television and commercials to music videos and games. The 7th Annual VES Awards will be presented on 21 February in Los Angeles.

A co-production of Walt Disney Pictures and Yash Raj Films, Roadside Romeo was named best animated film at the 15th Annual Star Screen Awards in Mumbai.

Roadside Romeo is considered to be India‘s first purely-entertainment animated theatrical motion picture, including eight original songs and five fully-choreographed musical numbers. This film departs significantly from the previous crop of animation films in India, in that it is a fully 3D animation movie, and follows a classic Bollywood formula as compared to the scores of 2D animated films based on mythology. Tata Elxsi - VCL‘s lead creative team on Roadside Romeo, individually named by the VES, includes Pankaj Khandpur - creative director and production head, Sherry Bharda - creative supervisor; Shrirang Sathaye - animation director, and Suhael Merchant - animation director.

According to Khandpur, "Our team got involved in the creative process right from the beginning. When Jugal Hansraj shared with us the script, we began conceptualising each individual character and their environments and we began to draw them, the old fashioned way, using pencil and paper. This process lasted three months. Once this stage was completed, we began storyboarding the film, illustrating each and every scene throughout the film. This was followed by the animatics‘ process - our first look at how all characters will move and interact with each other. The animation pre-production process took about 4 months, eventually overlapping the start of actual production."

"For the full-blown production," Khandpur explained, "VCL had an entirely in-house crew averaging 120 artists who worked on Roadside Romeo for over 15 months. The VCL team included modelers, riggers, animators, lighters and compositors, supported by texture artists, render wranglers and a core team of technical programmers. At the peak, we had a 170 member team working on this project. We have earned this nomination though the quality of our work, and yet the production cost of Roadside Romeo was a fraction of the production costs for major Hollywood CGI animated films."

In addition to animating Roadside Romeo, Tata Elxsi Ltd‘s VCL division has created special effects for many significant films in like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Jodhaa Akbar, Taare Zameen Par (India‘s official Entry to the Oscars), Rang De Basanti and Dhoom 2.VCL has also worked with other leading US entertainment companies including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Lionsgate, Mike Young Productions, MGM, and STARZ/Film Roman.

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