I had a brief obsession with the animation work made at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) a few years ago. This is where I learned about the work of Norman McLaren, Caroline Leaf and Ishu Patel. Norman McLaren founded NFB, and was introduced to me as the father of experimental animation. His student Caroline Leaf went on to invent three new fields of animation through her three films. Ishu Patel another student of McLaren’s was somewhat of a mystery to me. He is considered one of the fathers of Indian animation, with numerous awards and Oscar nominations under his belt.
I found his work to be initially unapproachable. To me it was far too esoteric and high minded, something to come out of the halls of Baroda. More recently on the advice of a professor I rewatched ‘Paradise’ (1984) which is as emblematic as any of Patel’s works. It follows a king looking at his bird flying around and morphing into different forms and colors. This happens in a medival Indian palace. In many ways this is reminiscent of Norman McLaren’s ‘Pas de deux’ (1968) where previous images trail behind creating a sort of trail behind the character. This shows the viewer the spacing in between frames and creates a dream-like effect through the shot.
The backgrounds in ‘Paradise’ looks as though they are using a black film with holes poked through and a light placed behind which creates a strange sort of shine. With the eerie music this collectively creates a poetic and atmospheric story.