Search form

Goppo Animation: Bravely ‘Feeding’ India’s Growing Animation Industry

Debjyoti Saha’s animation studio has grown from producing music videos for Indian rappers like Prabh Deep and DIVINE to bringing its animated anthology series about Indian food culture, ‘Table for One,’ to the upcoming Annecy 2024 MIFA.

"Goppo" is a Bengali word that means “Stories.” Being from Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, animation director Debjyoti Saha felt it was the perfect name for his self-run animation studio.

“Our main aim is to contribute to the independent Indian animation scene as much as possible,” says Saha. “I think, because of where we come from, we bear the responsibility to tell our own stories bravely. And if we don't, then who would?”

Goppo Animation, based in Mumbai, was founded by Saha, a former Disney India intern who previously worked as an associate producer at ESPN. A graduate from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India with a degree in Animation Film Design, Saha is also the director on all Goppo Animation projects. Though the studio was officially founded in 2022, Goppo began production work back 2020.

“I always knew that I would eventually have my own studio and work towards it, because that's what gives me creative satisfaction,” notes Saha. “Right during COVID, I started working on various kinds of freelance projects and I got addicted, honestly. There was so much great work to do, and I found that this was probably where I could expose my truest potential. And work kept happening, so I figured this was the way to go.”

For the past few years, Goppo has mostly focused their attention on making 2D-animated music videos for Indian rappers like Prabh Deep, Hanumankind, and the worldwide famous DIVINE. However, at this year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival, taking place June 9-15, Saha and actor Dhruv Sehgal are presenting a pitch for an animated series, Table for One, as part of the Namaste MIFA: India’s Partner Pitch at MIFA Annecy. Their presentation will take place on Wednesday, June 12 at 5:15 p.m. in the Haendel Room, Imperial Palace.

“It's an immense honor for Indian Animation and we are very grateful,” shares Saha. “Table for One is an anthology of short films, which will be overseen by different directors, that talks about food and stories around food from across the country.”

He continues, “Animation in India is booming right now. There is a lot of independent work, and all these independent animation studios are just sprouting up in different cities across the country. It's a little informal, a little nascent, but the quality of work that is coming out of this is really good. We hope to represent that when we go to Annecy.”

India’s rich culture of independent animated work over the years has been a constant source of inspiration for Saha. This includes projects from veteran studios such as Vaibhav Studios and Studio Eeksaurus along with contemporary independent studios from various parts of the country, such as Ghost Animation Studios, Studio Sideline, Eunonians and Studio Zeng, to name a few. 

On top of that, for a country known for dances spanning a range of classical, folk, and contemporary music, artists embracing animated storytelling for their music videos is a big deal. And the sentiment isn’t lost on Saha. 

“Obviously, the big industries like Bollywood aren’t ready to bet on animation yet, but the great thing is that the audience is ready,” he notes. “There are a lot of alternate and hip-hop artists coming out of the country who are looking to try something new and are trusting us with their project or their product. And they let us go a little crazy with it.”

All the freelancers that come aboard Goppo work completely remotely and are cherry-picked for each project. The studio typically has six to eight people, or 10 at the most, working on a single project depending on its complexity and timeline. 

“And usually, the timelines are not super amazing,” admits Saha. “What happens with music videos is, once the music is out, the artist wants to put out the video as soon as possible. But animation takes time, and it’s great that they are bold enough to give us a chance. A lot of animated music videos have been made more desirable post-COVID, since it got more and more difficult to film live-action videos during the pandemic. We didn’t see a lot of animated music videos in India before that and I think it's definitely a COVID phenomenon.”

Before founding Goppo, Saha started off making album cover art for a few Kolkata-based hip-hop artists, and the Seedhe Maut, a well-known hip-hop duo from Delhi, India, for their song "101.” Before that, Saha was part of the college hip-hop dance team in his hometown of Kolkata.

“That was a whole different life,” he reveals. “But, perhaps, the association and affinity towards music and hip-hop stayed with me and is now represented through Goppo’s works.”

One of Goppo’s first projects was working on a music video by Prabh Deep, a noted Punjabi hip-hop artist from Delhi, India. Live-action director and ad filmmaker, Aakash Bhatia, reached out to Saha about animating Prabh Deep’s song “Chitta.” Bhatia saw Saha’s cover art on social media and suggested they collaborate on a hybrid live-action and animation music video. 

Prabh Deep is a practicing Sikh and “Chitta” focuses a great deal on the people of his religion and his interactions in a world ruled by the corrupt, the wealthy and the powerful. Shots of the artist in different run-down areas of a neighborhood are overlaid with small bits of 2D animation, which then transition to fully animated sequences that show how money has been used to control the narrative presented to locals by powerful officials choked by the promise of money. 

The project was intense, and so was the timeline. 

“We had to deliver the video in 40 days, and it was a three-and-a-half-minute song,” remembers Saha. “We only had six people working on this, so we were up animating all day and night. But it was our first project, so we were motivated to create something really amazing. Hopefully, we came close. I'm a firm believer in good work begets good work. Right after that, projects started to flow in.”

Following the Prabh Deep project, Goppo worked with Hanumankind on an animated music video for Netflix’s Looop Lapeta, a comedy thriller film directed by Aakash Bhatia and jointly produced by Sony Pictures Films India, Ellipsis Entertainment and Aayush Maheshwari. An official adaptation of the award-winning German film Run Lola Run by Tom Tykwer, the film follows Savina "Savi" Borkar, a promising track-and-field athlete whose career is ruined by a knee injury. 

Then there’s Goppo’s projects for DIVINE, who made his debut at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in 2022 as the first Indian hip-hop star to attend the Grammys. Goppo has worked on not one but two music videos for the rapper, who is also from Mumbai. The first project was in 2020, before Goppo had been officially founded. The song, “Mera Bhai (My Brother),” is the third single from DIVINE’s sophomore studio album Punya Paap. The animated video portrays a story where one of Divine's childhood friends betrays him out of jealousy and ends with his message to the listeners to trust only themselves in today's world. It was a deeply raw message amidst the pandemic. 

The second DIVINE project for Goppo, “HISAAB,” came from the album Street Dreams and was a project the rapper worked on with fellow musical artist Karan Aujla. It’s Goppo’s most recent project and their most ambitious. 

“HISAAB has to be the most complex project that we’ve have taken on,” says Saha. “The subject matter deals with a deep understanding of mental health, and by the end of the video, we realize that this whole story about two inmates trying to break out of a prison is really them trying to break out of the prison in their minds, and they're not able to step out of it.”

In total, it took them five months to complete with a team of eight artists. Keeping both eyes steadily on the lyrics and the 2D animation so neither overshadowed the other, Saha explains, was a challenge because of the multiple layers the music video sifts through unpacking the minds of its two human subjects. But Saha was determined to see the animation through as he connected with the song on a personal level. 

“There was a personal interest in working on this project that talks about spiraling into depression,” shares Saha. “We all have high and low phases in life, and I heard this song when I was feeling this big lack of motivation and having trouble gaining perspective. DIVINE is basically talking about his sorrow. ‘Hisaab’ is a Hindi word that talks about counting and the song talks about counting your days, counting your friends, counting your foes, counting every bit of your life until you die, and being trapped in this counting and not actually living. I could relate to it right away.”

Goppo mostly works in 2D animation, working with Photoshop, TVPaint, and After Effects. They did animate a completely 3D intro for a live-action production house called Good Co. for director Vikas Bahl. But Saha’s true love is 2D and he plans to keep working in that medium. 

“I guess it probably boils down to a personal preference and the fact that it’s a skill I've honed for years,” he says. “Every style has its weaknesses and its strengths. We feel like we align ourselves with the values that 2D animation brings to the table. We also just love to draw.”

In addition to their upcoming Annecy pitch, Goppo is also currently working on a short film called Chiriyakhana or “Zoo.” It’s a seven-minute film about a family that goes to the zoo on a Sunday morning. “It's something that we haven't really tried and we’re going to have a different stylistic approach with it as well because we feel like narrative supersedes everything and narrative dictates style,” Saha says. “So, we’re trying to abide by that with this short.”

Over the past four years, while Goppo has grown leaps and bounds despite a challenging pandemic, Saha affirms that he still doesn’t want his studio to become too big. “We want to keep things independent, under a few heads only,” he says. “It’s ok to have a small studio with big visions for what you want to achieve. Whether it's a 10-second intro, a three-minute song, seven-minute film, or a full-length feature, we will put the same honor, integrity, and hard work into each project. I am a firm believer in good work begets good work. And I think our work will just get better and better.”

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She's reported on numerous stories from activist news to entertainment. Find more about her work at