NRI Achievers: Meet the Indians behind an Oscar-winning movie


Even as the world goes gaga over Leonardo Di Caprio winning the Oscar after 5 nominations, and what the celebrities wore at the red carpet, there were few Indian connections at this year’s Oscars which most of us failed to see.

No, we are not talking about how Priyanka Chopra fared at the red carpet events.
This is about Inside Out, the Oscar-winning movie in the Best Animated Feature category.

Inside Out

Inside Out has picked up dozens of awards since its release last summer, including the Golden Globe for the best-animated picture.

The Pete Docter-directed film, which was a critical and commercial hit, chronicled the different emotions of a young girl.

However, what not many know is that three talented Indians had big roles to play in Inside Out: Sajan Skaria as character supervisor, Vandana Reddy Sahrawat as lighting technical director and Amit Baadkar as special effects technical director.

Sajan Skaria

Sajan Skaria, who hails from Trivandrum in Kerala, did his undergraduate studies in computer science from National Institute of Technology (REC), Calicut, and then went onto pursue his masters in visualization sciences from Texas A&M University.

He now works with the famed Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, in California.

As a character supervisor with Pixar since 2001, Skaria is responsible for all the characters in Inside Out.

Sajan Skaria

“I have a team of modellers, riggers, shading artistes, tailors and groomers working with me,” he said in a recent interview.

“We take the artwork that the artistes and the director come up with, and create them on the computer. One of the biggest pleasures of our part of the job is to be the first to see Pixar’s amazing characters come to life. I work with all the other departments and the production team to make sure our characters turn out looking great,” he added.

Skaria started off by working on Finding Nemo. Apart from Cars, which he says he worked for almost 5 years, he is also behind bringing alive one of the most memorable characters of all time in Woody, which he worked on for the popular Toy Story 3.

Vandana Sahrawat

Lighting technical director Vandana Reddy Sahrawat, who hails from Hyderabad, has also worked in popular animation movies like Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Up, Brave etc.

“When I first saw the original Toy Story movie, I knew I wanted to pursue my career in animation. Actually, it was more of an animation and CG visual effects inspiration for me. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story, Babe and Jurassic Park are the films I’d name in this regard,” Vandana said in a recent interview.

Vandana Sahrawat

Vandana, who lives in California, says it was a great experience working in Inside Out.
“I absolutely love all of Pete Docter’s movies, they’re always so touching and wildly imaginative at the same time. To be a part of such inspiring projects itself is such a rewarding experience,” she added.

Amit Baadkar

Amit Baadkar from Mumbai, who worked as the effects technical director for this film, feels fortunate to work with Pete Docter who helped bring out his best.

Amit Baadkar

“The director of the film, is the closest to a Hollywood star that I personally got to work with. He was such an inspiration. This was the first time I’ve had the pleasure to work with him,” Amit says.

“It was quite a learning experience collaborating with him. He communicated what he wanted in a shot very clearly and made sure I understood the motivation behind everything. This really helped me grow as an artist and see his vision in order to put the best work up on the big screen,” Amit added.

Amit, who started at Pixar in 2010 as an intern and has worked with many feature films, feels that the real challenge was to keep a balance and get the right effect.

Congratulations to the trio and hope they keep making us proud!

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