Gitanjali Rao is a self-taught animator from India. She graduated in fine arts from the J.J.School of Art, Bombay. I’m not an animator nor a fine arts student, but when I see Rao’s painting like animations with brilliant storylines make me stop in my tracks. Don’t be surprised if you get transported to another world on seeing her animation films. In this post, we look at two of her films -Printed Rainbow and Blue
Printed Rainbow (2006)is Gitanjali’s tribute to her mother. The animation captures the life of an old lady who lives peacefully with her cat. She dusts her home, makes her meals and completes her everyday chores. Her cat follows her dutifully, licking its fur clean. The old lady has a drawer full of matchbox covers! She is a phillumenist – a person who collects matchbox covers.
She gazes into each matchbox cover and is transported into the world of the cover along with us the viewer. And oh, what a beautiful world each cover holds. Rao’s animation captures the cool beauty of a mahal(palace) and the vibrancy of art on a truck through her animation.
A fellow phillumenist brings new additions to the collection of the old lady. One day he comes home to find her resting quite still. Also quite still is her cat. Is it the end? Watch this beautiful work of art by this remarkable animator.
Blue, is an earlier, delightful short, animated film by Gitanjali Rao. In this film, we are invited on a ride to space, no less with a little girl and her cat! Cats are a running theme in the maker’s animation, being a feline lover herself. Up and down; round and round we go with the duo, exploring space on a swing.
In the Printed Rainbow, Rao alternates between bouts of greys alternated with brilliant colours. This use of colour is symbolic of the ‘dull grey’ of everyday chores that constitute the ‘business of living’, with the colour and power of imagination.
In Blue, Rao uses white and blue to zoom in and zoom out. Both the animations are full of whimsy and beauty. They explore the idea of freedom, that we humans seek, no matter how confined the space we live in. The films also explore the power of imagination and its ability to take us to unknown worlds. She is very mindful to bring her Indian context into her animations. In Printed Rainbow, the old lady is seen in her ‘nighty’ or housecoat both in her real and imaginary lives.
Children will love these animations, which are very different from the usual Disney fare.