Full Name:

Ram Mohan

Occupation / Title:

, , , , ,

Date of birth:

26/08/1931

Date of death:

11/10/2019

Birthplace:

India

Biography


Ram Mohan was born on August 26, 1931, in India.

Known as the Father of Indian Animation, he was a pioneer animator from the post-Independence era, working for the Cartoon Film Unit at Films Division and Prasad Productions before starting his own studio, Ram Mohan Biographics. Although he may not be credited for being the first to produce India’s earliest animations (Mohan himself considers film director Dadasaheb Phalke as the Father of Indian Animation), he is perhaps the most famous Indian animator of all time.

Mohan died on October 11, 2019, at 88 years old in Mumbai.

Career outline


Mohan joined the Cartoon Film Unit at Films Division in 1956 as a trainee in the animation program guided by Disney veteran Claire Weeks. The Cartoon Film Unit was the first organized film studio in India, producing the first fully animated film, The Banyan Deer (1957), based on the Jataka story of the same name. The film is drawn in the signature Disney style while also incorporating the art of Ajanta murals in Aurangabad.

Although the films produced by the Films Division were considered propaganda, they nevertheless contributed to the education and unity of India’s young nation. The Cartoon Film Unit’s projects spread positive messages, disseminating the message of “unity in diversity” and the inherent goodness of the Indian people. Mohan also mentored many future artists in Films Division such as animation pioneer Bhimsain, as he was flexible in terms of the various positions he filled at the studio, such as animator, scriptwriter, designer, and director.

In 1968, Mohan left Films Division to work at Prasad Productions in their animation division. He then started his own film studio in 1972 called Ram Mohan Biographics (RMB), alongside technical expert SG Naik-Satam and background designer MR Parulekar. Bhimsain also joined RMB for a brief period. This team produced award-winning works such as Taru (1989) and The White Elephant (1994), a special project for UNESCO, and did animated title sequences for live action films. RMB played an important part in growing the animated commercials sector, creating shorts for various brands such as Strepsils, Cadbury, and Top Ramen among many.

Mohan directed Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama, in collaboration with co-director Koichi Sasaki and producer Yugo Sako, in 1992. This film was the life mission of Sako, and while considered the best adaptation of the Ramayana epic, the film’s release was marred by Hindutva protests. Although the film failed to make its mark in the Indian animation industry, it continues to be screened in Japan, and has yet to make an international release.

In the 1990s, Mohan also created the animated series Meena for UNICEF. The show follows the eponymous character as she transforms her village, advocating for gender equality, education of girls, health and sanitation among other issues. The series was also broadcast in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Meena was so successful that UNICEF requested Mohan to create an African version of the series, which was named Sara. He was in charge of directing the initial episodes and training new animators in Africa.

In 1997, RMB merged with UTV, becoming the studio RM-USL, to meet the demand of the global animation market. While the international studios are making use of India’s talent pool of 3D animators, the 2D animation sector remains an untapped market in India to this day.

Mohan also co-founded Graphiti Multimedia, a computer graphics studio in 2006, operating as chairman and chief creative officer. He also set up an animation school, and produced a series of short animated films called Krish Trish and Batliboy, which was made for the Children’s Film Society of India.

In 2015, at 84 years old, he produced The Pea Plant Legacy, his last film for Films Division. This film was dedicated to the animated experiments of Dadasaheb Phalke, whose animations preceded Mohan’s even though he was known as a live-action filmmaker. He incorporated various animation styles into the film, such as 2D, 3D, stop-motion, and timelapse.

Mohan had an illustrious, celebrated animation career that lasted 59 years, and although he may not be the first to produce animation in India, his legacy in the industry as well as his mentoring ability to foster generations of talent has set the standard of quality and brilliance for all Indian animators today.

References:


Sharma, Chetan. “Remembering the Father of Indian Animation and the rise of the industry in India.” The Times of India, 2021.

–. “Tireless and peerless: The debt that Indian animation owes to Ram Mohan.” Scroll.in, 2021.

Tahmina, Sohelee. “Ram Mohan: Pioneer of Indian Animation Industry.” ToonsMag, 2019.




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