‘Serious about monkey business’

Manvita Kamath talks of the importance of storyboards and her animation company

Manvita Kamath, who has acted in films such as Tagaru with Shivarajkumar, Chowka and Kanaka was last seen in India Vs England, which had a world wide release just before the lockdown. To keep herself busy Manvita took to animation, in which she has a degree. Soon this passion inspired her to start her own animation company, called Studio Manekin.

“The aim is to fill in the gap between animation and live-action filmmaking, to help create high-quality content. We want to be a firm that filmmakers can instantly call to pre-visualise their script, plan their title sequence or create interesting merchandise for their films.”

The name of the studio, which Manvita started with her sister-in-law Ankita Kini comes from a combination of their names, the actor said.

The logo of two monkeys Manvita says is representative of their journey together. “The logo was derived out of an earlier piece of art Ankita had made where of a dancing monkey who escapes her puppet-master. As she has danced to other people’s tunes all her life, the monkey has no idea how to be a monkey. She rides away on a bicycle, hoping to discover herself along the way. When I saw this image, I realised this is the story of most women who are on a journey to find their true potential and stop dancing to the tunes of others. In other words we are serious about monkey business,” laughs Manvita.

The studio was launched on August 9 and Manvita says they will focus not just on animation but also on creating storyboards. The reason for venturing into this she says is, “When I started acting, I hardly saw storyboards being used in our industry. I wondered if story boards were overrated and why Hollywood directors used them so extensively.

“I recalled Rajamouli saying storyboards were the pillars of his films. That he does not enter his sets without a story board. Hence, we starting brainstorming and explored this aspect of filmmaking.”

Manvita aid since there were no firms dealing with storyboards, they launched the company. Talking about storyboards, Manvita says, “Normally they are hand drawn. We wanted to take it to the next level. The kind of storyboards we can create can be used by the filmmaker as comic strips or even during the film’s promotion.”

Manvita believes that story boards explain the entire process of filmmaking. “I have learnt a lot about film making by just looking at them. I would love to see Chrostopher Nolan’s storyboards. These drawings explains everything — right from the camera angle to the character traits and where the actor should stand, his mood… When you have this, you won’t need to read the screenplay at all as it is a pictorial representation of your film. This makes it easy for all who are not avid readers.”

Storyboards help the producer reduce costs, Manvita says. “Half the work is already done on the board.” Manvita does not want to restrict herself to acting. “Cinema is a collective work, everyone from the person who serves you tea to the light boy are filmmakers as their work contributes in getting this huge work on screen.”

Ankita, who is currently based in Netherlands, says she is thrilled to be a part of Manekin and that the studio was created “out of the desire to create something bigger than ourselves, to see if we can make something more meaningful than its individual parts. I believe Manvita and I can realise our true potential by working as a team. Our skills complement each other.”

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