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Vancouver-based animation director and motion designer Kunal Sen, who spends four months of the year between Kolkata and Delhi, has his work showcased in two films at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Sen has contributed to Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!", which is playing in TIFF Docs, and Afghanistan-born Canadian director Tarique Qayumi's "Black Kite" that is in the Contemporary World Cinema section.
While in the Spurlock documentary, a follow-up to the director's career-launching "Super Size Me" (2004), Sen has directed more than 3 minutes of animation, he has contributed all of seven minutes to "Black Kite", the story of an Afghan kite-flying enthusiast who defies the Taliban to pursue his passion, egged on by his spirited little daughter.
A St James's School, Kolkata product and an alumnus of the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, where he was a graphic design student, Sen is "a self-taught animator" who enrolled in Vancouver's Emily Carr University in 2006.
His wife, Tisha Deb Pillai, and he are founders of Good Bad Habits, an animation studio in Vancouver.
As an animation director - "do not describe me as an animator," Sen insists in a parting shot - he has over the past decade worked in cinema, television, advertising and projections for theatre.
He has, besides much else, been part of a couple of music videos produced by the New Delhi-based band, The Ska Vengers.
"I want to be an animation director known for being innovative, not as someone who merely provides cookie-cutter solutions," says Sen.
The two films on show in TIFF 2017 can only strengthen the reputation he seeks.
In "Black Kite", set in the harsh socio-political reality of contemporary Afghanistan, Sen's dazzling animation provides an essential counterpoint, producing a magical, dreamlike, hope-filled world in which the colourful kites and the bright open skies denote liberty and joy.
"My approach has never been cut-and-dried. I believe in arriving at something through discussions with the filmmaker."
In the case of "Black Kite", the process, he reveals, was quick.
Pretty much the same method was at play in "Super Size Me 2", a film in which Spurlock opens his own chicken franchise to explore the truths behind the words that fast-food chains use to tout their fare as healthy.
"Morgan (Spurlock) found me through my work," says Sen, recalling how more than a decade ago, at Srishti Institute in Bangalore, he had researched the New York writer and director's production company Warrior Poets in preparation for an on-campus film festival.
"I am rooted firmly in conventional cinema, not animation films. I have absolutely no animation film cross-references or inspirations when I set out to give shape to ideas and visuals that cannot be filmed," says Sen, whose body of work includes "Bombay Chaupati", a live-action, candid camera short film he made in 2010; "Frank Brazil" (2015), a tribute to revolutionary Udham Singh to mark the 75th anniversary of his execution; and "The OK Brothers", an animated satire on manual scavenging in India.
Sen admits that making a feature-length animation film is a completely different ball game, but says: "I'd love to come up with one someday.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)