Sanjay Patel Talks Ramayana: Divine Loophole
SP: I was absolutely inspired by the material, which calls for certain characters to be depicted by certain colors. The Rama has to be blue, the clothes have to be burgundy or orange. Ravana has to be depicted with green skin, typically. I took some liberties also with purple being a sign of royalty too. I thought that was a very real color. But the colors are very much inspired by India: it's all in the mythology and in the way it's being depicted now. I also looked at a lot of Thai artwork as well because so much of the Thai culture is based on the Ramayana as well. I recently went to Thailand for the first time and was really struck by it. I also want to strongly mention Nina Paley and her work as well, Sita Sings the Blues. I discovered an adaptation of the Ramayana that she was reading that got me fired up to do this illustrated version. It's so nice to see her work and all the attention that she's brought to that mythology as well.
BD: What's been the reaction to the book at Pixar?
SP: They are totally shocked that I found the time to do it, but they are utterly blown away by the beauty of it. One of the nicest compliments I got was when somebody said that usually when you see an individual's work at a studio, it's not that strong, and yet when that individual works on the team they're work is activated. And they thought the opposite was true of me: that my work is good here at Pixar, but working by myself on these stories has activated me.
BD: What have you been working on recently?
SP: I worked a little bit on Toy Story 3, but mainly I've been supervising animation on Cars Toons, the series of shorts based on the Cars characters. It's been a really nice experience working on something that's quick and short. I feel it almost feels like improvisation and there's no time to second-guess yourself. Consequently, it feels more akin to The Looney Tunes, where they hit brilliance by the sheer volume.
BD: And Toy Story 3?
SP: I think the movie's incredibly emotional and wonderful: I think it's one of our best films, actually.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.