In a world where compassion for animals is often overlooked, a heartwarming animated movie, “Kamadhenu and Nandini,” poised to challenge our perspective, tells the enchanting tale of a cow named Kamadhenu and her calf, Nandini, as they navigate their fear of humans and search for a place where they can be free and well cared for.
What makes this project truly special is the collaboration of talented artists from various countries-under M House Media production, who have united in their passion to bring this remarkable story to life. Through stunning animation and an emotionally gripping narrative, the team aims to illuminate the plight of these gentle creatures and inspire empathy in viewers of all ages.
As part of our commitment to uncovering inspiring stories behind artistic creations, we’ve had the privilege of interviewing these extraordinary artists. Join us as we delve into their vision and the challenges they face during production, recognizing that “Kamadhenu and Nandini” is in the process of coming to life.
Prepare to be moved by this captivating journey that transcends borders, cultures, and language barriers. Read on to discover how “Kamadhenu and Nandini” animated film aims to ignite change in our hearts while shedding light on the profound bond between humans and animals.
LEA/TAT: Hello, guys, and welcome. It’s quite interesting to see that we are joining from so many different countries. I see that Sonny is from Sweden, Hein, my colleague from The Awakening Times, is from South Africa. I am from Croatia. Sangeeth, I believe from the USA, right? Thea from Belgium/ India/all over the place. And Elisa, where are you from?
ELISA/MHM: I’m in the United States.
LEA/TAT: Okay, beautiful. We can’t wait to hear everything about your project. But let’s wait for Kat, a couple of more minutes. Here she comes.
KAT/MHM: I’m starting my camera. Sorry.
LEA/TAT: Hello, Kat. Welcome. Thea, we already made a short introduction, but, for the record’s sake, would you like to introduce your team?
THEA/MHM: Thank you, The Awakening Times team. I’m delighted to be here, and even more thrilled to introduce you to the team behind the Kamadhenu and Nandini animated film project. We’ll delve deeper into the details shortly. What’s truly remarkable is the collaboration of individuals from around the world who came together to bring this story to life through a captivating animation. Let me briefly introduce each team member.
I’m Thea Klincov, the producer from Belgium. Our Associate Producer, Sangeeth Jayanthan, hails from the USA. Sonny Mikszath, our Director and Writer, is based in Sweden. Kathleen (Kat) Matusiak, the Production Designer and Storyboarder, joins us from the UK. Elisa Schrimer, our Lead Animator, represents the USA. Rachelle Flynn, another talented Animator, is also from the USA. Azadeh Sadeghi, our Video Editor, comes from Iran/UK. David Siegel, the Music Composer, is based in the USA. Carter Mangan Jr, our Sound Designer, also contributes from the USA. Ajna Nair and Meghan Rose, our Voice Artists, also hail from the USA.
LEA/TAT: Thank you. What a diverse team. Who would like to pitch us your project? How did you guys come up with the idea? And where are you at right now? Is there anyone who would like to do elevator pitch?
SANGEETH/MHM: Thea, do you want to do that? She pitched it first to me, and then that’s how the whole idea started.
THEA/MHM: Yeah, I think we should do this in layers from the original pitch to where it is now. It was quite a journey that happened. This whole process will be interesting to explore, as well. For my part, I provided the initial pitch, which is inspired by the true story of Kamadhenu and Nandini, which happened a little bit less than a year ago in Australia. I think you might have followed the stories on Instagram, and the drama that happened. The idea was to translate this story into an animation to reach many more people, to spread the idea that we are all one. And, that we’re all connected. In short, this is the initial pitch.
LEA/TAT: Okay, please be specific because our readers might not know the full story.
THEA/MHM: Okay, sure. Last year while we were in Australia with Mohanji, he was visiting the Mohanji Center of Benevolence for the first time, and obviously, when he comes somewhere so many other things get moved and activated. And at one point he said, let’s bring some cows. It’s very auspicious to have them on the land; it’s a very pure animal, it will raise the vibration of the whole place and so on. And he was very specific on which type of cows he wanted: golden cows. And he wanted a mother and calf together so we could nurture motherhood as well in that place. So, one beautiful day, they arrived, and everyone was super happy and excited. Unfortunately, we very soon realized that they were too scared of us. They were so terrified. It was really sad to see, especially for the people who come from India; they’re not so used to that. Whoever has been in India, you can see the cows are roaming free everywhere, and they’re very left alone, so to speak.
And what happened is that we put them in a shed that was dedicated to them, and in the morning, they escaped. After that, we were living a drama of three days of finding them. It was very dangerous for them to be out. They could have ended up on the road and be killed by a truck or whatever. Also, it’s illegal to not have fencing around cows in Australia. And they are very strict about these things. So, it was very, very sad. Mohanji is very connected to everything around him, and he can feel everything that’s happening. So, for one or two days, he couldn’t sleep because he was feeling the anguish of Kamadhenu. Her only fear, her only concern was to save the child.
Somehow, we managed to first catch Nandini, because she was smaller, and we thought Kamadhenu would follow because of her mother’s instinct, but she didn’t. She was extra sad, because she accepted the fact that her kid would be taken away from her. She was like, “everyone told me this would happen. And this is now happening.” Both of them were very, very sad. And somehow, we managed to put them together finally. I played the sound of a calf on the speaker and managed to bring her back. Of course, we were on a tight schedule, and it all happened only three days before Mohanji and our team were about to leave that place and Australia. It was very important that this had to be sorted, in time. Thankfully, it got sorted. And for several months, they were still scared. But now, which is very beautiful, if you watch the footage of them, they’re so happy. They’re cuddling with the humans; they’re being petted. They’re very happy there. Mohanji Center of Benevolence, Australia is becoming an animal sanctuary. Okay, that’s the story, in short .
LEA/TAT: Beautiful. Thank you. And how did you guys find each other? I mean, it’s not an easy thing to find a good team.
SANGEETH/MHM: I would like to answer that question.
LEA/TAT: Please do.
SANGEETH/MHM: Around the time when I decided to be part of MHM, they brought this idea about this project, and the challenge was on how to make this happen. We had the practical difficulties of working on multiple areas, and this is just one of the projects which we have undertaken. Multiple things are happening at one time for MHM, and these are all very important bits. Then we had to get this started, and we wanted to make sure that we could deliver. The initial project plan was to deliver it within February itself, around the time for Mohanji’s birthday. Then another challenge was to see who we could bring into the team. There were three factors that we were looking at the individuals when we were trying to bring them on board. And that applies to everybody who is part of the team. First and foremost is the commitment to the cause. So, people who fully understand what we are trying to communicate, who are committed to a larger cause and who have shown commitment in the past, for things which are of that sort, and also who can transfer the skills into something creative and do something for the larger good.
The second part is professionalism in terms of delivering things. Because at the end of the day, when we are bringing creative artists, there is a certain level of creativity, but then you also have to deliver in a certain time, work with a certain group of people, different mindset, different nationalities, etc. So, that was the second bit, to be able to deliver with your skills in a professional and timely manner.
The third bit, I think you’ve touched upon that already, is the diversity aspect. We wanted to make it as diverse as possible. It was not by design, but it somehow happened. Maybe Mohanji did his magic, so that we have a very diverse team. One thing that I think holds in common is integrity and trust. People have differing opinions, but we do share them. I think there is an environment within the team where people feel safe to share their opinions. Even though there is a disagreement, people are sharing disagreements because ultimately, the point is to get something really good coming out of this.
We are still going through some of our initial setup plans, like getting contracts, which is from a legal perspective a very arduous process. So, there are some growing pains, but people are aware of it, and people are patient with it.
LEA/TAT: Okay, thank you. Who wants to share about your creative process? Especially in developing the characters? I think that is the most challenging part because it’s not easy to animate animals and give them emotions. Who would like to speak about that? Maybe, Elisa?
ELISA/MHM: Yes. Thank you. It is a bit of a challenge. I’ve been animating animals because of a book series called Warriors that’s based on cats. And there’s a big artists community on YouTube, of people who animate them along to music videos. So, I’ve been playing around with that. And then I came around to this project. And I have a big love for animals, and I also have some experience with animating. So, I went ahead and applied. And I think it’s like an interesting challenge to try and give them human emotions and try and figure out how to express that without changing the understanding that they are animals. It’s a fun challenge. As for the creative process, at least with animation, we are working off of the script and off of Sonny’s vision. We asked him, what type of colors are you going for? And, we’ve been using the Instagram story of the real happenings, as inspiration, but also as a reference. And yeah, so just kind of developing backgrounds and character designs based on those Instagram Stories.
LEA/TAT: We can already feel that it’s going to be a huge thing. I would love to hear from your creative mastermind. Sonny, please tell us about how you developed this original script to where it is now.
SONNY/MHM: Initially when I heard of the story, and got the short script, they wanted me to develop it and change it according to my vision. I really like that it’s a huge blow against the meat industry. The whole thing is centered around that. And I wanted to have a deepness in it. When I was writing it, I took inspiration from my own life.
HEIN/TAT: I’m curious about how you take this single event and create a story out of it? With a whole sequence of events and narrative? How do you develop a singular occurrence into what I’m assuming will be a feature length?
SONNY/MHM: No, it’s gonna be 10-15 minutes.
HEIN/TAT: How do you create enough narrative to 10 minutes out of one event that happened?
SONNY/MHM: Yeah, that is a little bit of a challenge. And there’s a dream sequence that will explain the backstory, and also where the characters are right now. How they’re feeling and why they are feeling like they do, so we understand that. Wait, do you want to hear more about that?
HEIN/TAT: We want to hear about the part of the project that excited you most.
SONNY/MHM: Well, everything. The history and how it can be translated… And, how it can appeal to all ages is that we need to show the darkness and the greediness and the terror that is in the meat industry, without showing a lot of blood. We don’t want to show that, because kids could see it also. And I would not like it to be dark and depressing for kids. So, a lot is explained without seeing it necessarily, but you can envision it with your mind. And that is a very powerful tool to use.
HEIN/TAT: Almost like a horror movie approach.
SONNY/MHM: Yes, something like that, but done in a softer way.
SANGEETH/MHM: One of the things we asked from Sonny and the team was to humanize that connection. And that was a big challenge he was given. And one of the questions that came up was, at what point in time should people realize that these are animals. We were juggling through so many things, and it was Sonny’s leadership that got us where we are today. I would like to ask one question to Sonny because I feel it is important to understand. How and why did you come up with the dream sequence?
SONNY/MHM: I want to tell the backstory. By having dreams, you can explore other realms, things you cannot show in reality, like monsters and everything. And that’s normal in dreams. So, we can explain other things in dreams that are more symbolic of what happened. That’s why I wanted to have the dream.
LEA/TAT: Thea told us that your project has a specific visual identity, can you guys share some of the artworks? Kat, if you want to answer this question.
KAT/MHM: I was just looking at some examples for you. About that, we’re using stop motion and 2D animation, 2D animation for the dream sequence, and stop motion with some 2D background for the present time. We were inspired by two or three styles, which is the Warli painting style for the dream sequence, and Pichwai art for the present times, with some Australian Aboriginal art details and everything. So, it is a kind of mix of cultures.
ELISA/MHM: Yeah, we’ve been inspired by Pichwai paintings and the Warli paintings, just kind of adding different cultures into the sequence and trying to, I don’t know, diversify it a bit. So yeah, we’ve been doing 2D backgrounds. And, planning the puppets to stop motion puppets with 2D as well. I can share my screen and show you a couple of examples.
ELISA/MHM: So, here is just some planning. I’ve got some of the references here. Some examples of Warli and a screencap from Harry Potter that I thought was maybe helpful to kind of figure out how we’re going to do these silhouetted objects. I’m just trying to figure out the shapes here of the cows, and I was thinking of turning them into rigs, 2D rigs, and separating each body part into a different layer, so that I can move them independently. These are just like trying to figure out that design. And then this is just kind of finalizing it a little bit more, trying to clean it up. Each body part is going to be moving separately. And then we’ve got some art from Kat, just kind of coming up with the concept. I love this one.
Trying to achieve the best results, Kat has some experience with stop motion. She did a Pinocchio short movie, and it involved paper puppets that she photographed as they moved.
HEIN/TAT: Are you guys doing digital stop motion, where you create everything digitally, or are you actually filming stop motion?
ELISA/MHM: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s a combination of everything because we also work remotely, far from each other.
Kat is doing the physical stop motion, making paper puppets of the cows, moving them, and taking pictures. We also plan to use digital puppet rigs for the dream sequence in a Warli style. These will be digital rigs, and we’ll have traditional 2D backgrounds created digitally. The rigs will function like stop motion, with physical paper moving on a flat surface against a green screen.
LEA/TAT: Amazing. I’d like to ask Sonny one more question. We know that in creative processes, there’s a lot of learning and improvisation. So, where are you with that? What are your key learnings from this project so far? Where did you have to improvise? What are the challenges? And is it true that the accurate job description of a director is essentially putting out fires?
SONNY/MHM: There are two types of directors; you can be a director who does everything independently, or one who allows everyone in and decides what works. I like everyone to contribute their ideas, and then we create something together. However, it’s my decision on what fits the story. The dream sequence will be a different style, interesting how that turned out.
LEA/TAT: I just can’t wait to see it. It’s a very interesting and inspiring project, and from what I just saw, I have goosebumps. Congratulations, guys. So, what’s next after the movie is finished? What are the plans? Do you have a marketing strategy? Will you apply for festivals?
SANGEETH/MHM: The initial plan is to have a teaser around Mohanji’s birthday, so at least the larger group within the Mohanji global community gets to know about it. Thea has been working a lot on creating an Instagram presence. Initially, we were thinking of a February release, but we realized it will take more time, which is okay as long as the creative process happens, and we maintain the best quality. We are looking to launch it in multiple film festivals, especially vegan-focused initiatives that we believe might support this project.
We still need to put a lot of effort into marketing, but in many cases, they create the product first and then focus on the marketing aspects. The overall plan is to run with this for the entire first year, ensuring continuous promotions. It’s not a situation where we do it for the first two months and then stop; rather, it will involve a continuous stream of activities.
LEA/TAT: So, there was an initial scriptwriter, and then Sonny continued. Sonny, could you delve a little more into the script?
SONNY/MHM: There is a horrorland dream sequence… I don’t know what we can give away. There are some cool hands in the dream sequence. We’re following these two cows on their journey. I just gave everything away. Everybody knows what’s gonna happen.
SANGEETH/MHM: Being the associate producer, I’ll be cautious about it. When our previous scriptwriter created it, the initial script was very simple and basic. And then, it reached a point where there needed to be more flexibility in terms of understanding where we want to take this story. As a director, it made sense for Sonny to have that creative freedom.
We interviewed several director candidates and found Sonny to be very grounded, direct, and reflective. While his responses may not be immediate, he thinks about it and provides a considered opinion. We liked that style because the story is nuanced, and the message we are conveying are also nuanced. We wanted someone with depth who could grasp and deliver it. Aiden’s work and Sonny’s vision weren’t aligning at that point. Aidan decided to part ways, and Sonny, being a writer as well, pivoted the story in a slightly different direction, with adding the dream sequence etc. The result we have now conveys emotions, with a universal theme of oneness among all beings, transcending human or animal distinctions. The script is solid now, and Elisa, Kat, and the team are working towards realizing it. While it wasn’t a smooth journey, we feel we are in a good space now.
HEIN/TAT: How long did it take you guys to find your rhythm?
SANGEETH/MHM: I would say it took almost a month.
ELISA/MHM: It is also challenging with all the different time zones, but I think we’ve got kind of a rhythm going.
THEA/MHM: Sorry for interrupting. I just wanted to speak about the beautiful things emerging from this collaboration, especially how the team works together. They came up with different styles of painting and visual elements to reflect various emotions. It’s super exciting just to witness all of that happening. We also have great sound people with us, including a music composer who couldn’t join tonight but will handle all the music for the movie. I also have to mention our editor, who faithfully joins every meeting, although she doesn’t have anything to do yet; she is super involved and interested in the whole process. And, of course, Roc, who’s going to do the sound design.
LEA/TAT: We forgot to speak about the colors. You have some play going on with colors; can someone explain more about it?
ELISA/MHM: Sonny is the one with the vision regarding this. With the colors, he was telling us that most of the film should use a lot of cool colors to give a depressing kind of feel, in the beginning—lots of blues and more neutral colors. Once the cows get comfortable and realize they’re not in danger, the colors will turn warm and vibrant. So, the idea is to create that mood.
HEIN/TAT: Fantastic. Thank you. Would anyone like to add something for the end?
SANGEETH/MHM: This is the first endeavor from MHouse media to get a movie out. We’re all learning. Personally, for me, it’s been an incredible learning process. I hope that the message we are putting together with the team comes across, and ultimately, I will consider this a success if the final product delivers emotional appeal to somebody who watches this movie.
TAT: Is there anything you guys would like to add?
SONNY/MHM: I can say that we have done about 1/3 of the storyboard. That’s where we are now.
TAT: Congratulations. That’s a lot.
SONNY/MHM: Another thing that I was thinking of when I was writing the story is that I didn’t really think of them as cows; I was more thinking of them as humans. I needed to have them working on four legs, of course. So, in a way, that was my approach to the story.
TAT: Thank you for sharing. It’s amazing, and we can’t wait to see it. You guys feel very cohesive together. If your movie is as good as your group energy, it will be great. We hope to do justice in presenting your story to our audience. Thank you for your time and this warm, inspiring interview. We are keeping our fingers crossed, and whatever you guys might need from us, we are here to support you.
MHM: Thank you.