Sau­rabh Mau­rya

Some­times you have to fol­low your dreams no mat­ter what your fam­ily or so­ci­ety tells you – here’s how Sau­rabh Mau­rya carved his way into the in­dus­try

3D Artist - - CONTENTS - Sau­rabh Mau­rya CG su­per­vi­sor, CRAFTY APES

The Crafty Apes CG su­per­vi­sor dis­cusses why al­low­ing your­self to fail is a good thing

i‘m sure a lot of us will re­late to this but through­out my en­tire child­hood every­one around me, my fam­ily, my rel­a­tives, my friends’ fam­i­lies, their rel­a­tives, even my friend’s dog had a plan for me. A mantra to lead a happy suc­cess­ful life, ‘Ex­cel in Aca­demics, get a de­cent job’. As sim­ple as it sounds it had many hid­den lay­ers – ex­cel meant you can only come first in all ex­ams, there is no op­tion of coming sec­ond and a de­cent job means ei­ther an en­gi­neer or a doc­tor. in in­dia every­one thinks if you choose a pro­fes­sion other than a doc­tor or an en­gi­neer you’ll end up be­ing home­less or even worse.

My brother chose to be­come a doc­tor so i was left with the only other al­ter­na­tive. now i don’t have any­thing against en­gi­neer­ing but i hated ev­ery sec­ond of it. There was no way to jus­tify these emo­tions be­cause peo­ple would la­bel you as dumb and a fail­ure. And as clichéd as it sounds, if you don’t love some­thing that you do then fail­ure is in­evitable. i failed in my very first year of en­gi­neer­ing and that one mo­ment of fail­ure turned out to be the big­gest turn­ing point of my life.

There is this beau­ti­ful quote that i stum­bled upon, “i’m not what i think i am, i’m not what you think i am. i am what i think you think i am.”

i re­alised that this path that my par­ents, my friends, the so­ci­ety was carv­ing for me, i didn’t feel like it was for me. That fail­ure took away all the in­hi­bi­tions and i was con­stantly look­ing for a dif­fer­ent path. Iron Man was re­leased around that time and it blew my mind. i had this cu­rios­ity built up in­side me and i wanted to be on that path to pur­sue film-mak­ing. The last time i felt this cu­ri­ous was al­most a decade ago when i saw The Ma­trix and at that time the idea of pur­su­ing film-mak­ing was as bad as be­ing a ter­ror­ist. i was scared to bring up the idea again to my par­ents so i let cu­rios­ity be the guide which in­tro­duced me to pho­to­shop, and from pho­to­shop to Af­ter Ef­fects to Maya to a new world of an­i­ma­tion. i gave into my cu­ri­ous gut and de­cided to con­vince my par­ents that i wanted to drop out of en­gi­neer­ing and pur­sue an­i­ma­tion. it took me three years and a lot of courage to fi­nally con­vince them and hes­i­tantly so, they gave in. i knew that an­i­ma­tion was an un­charted ter­ri­tory for them and they were con­cerned so it was im­por­tant for me that they un­der­stand my de­ci­sion. How­ever my par­ents were not the only ones that needed con­vinc­ing. We live in a pry­ing so­ci­ety where i was con­stantly be­ing told, ‘Your fa­ther is an en­gi­neer, your mother is a doc­tor, even your brother is a doc­tor, why are you tak­ing up arts? You don’t like study­ing’, ‘You will have a mis­er­able fu­ture and will be poor and home­less’ to things like ‘Your par­ents will have to give dowry for you’. This list is end­less and it started mak­ing me in­se­cure, and i started ques­tion­ing my de­ci­sion. But i was cling­ing to that one mo­ment of fail­ure in en­gi­neer­ing, which iron­i­cally enough gave me the courage to take the leap of faith and go to San Fran­cisco to pur­sue an­i­ma­tion at Academy of Art Univer­sity. i learned this the very hard way that you can­not make every­one happy. it sure was a bumpy ride but i was glad that i took up this chance. i was also told that art stu­dents never get visas/ spon­sor­ship. And there came a day close to my grad­u­a­tion where i got a job of­fer but the visa did not come through. For a mo­ment i started think­ing i was wrong. But this en­tire jour­ney from drop­ping out of en­gi­neer­ing to an­i­ma­tion was one of the most fan­tas­tic learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for me, and i am not just talk­ing about the skills that i learnt but the re­silience that i had built up. i made some great friends and men­tors through­out this jour­ney who have been and are still my big­gest sup­port sys­tem. i knew i was do­ing all the right things, giv­ing 100 per cent, con­vert­ing the in­ter­view to a job of­fer but the visa is not in my hand.

Be­ing an in­ter­na­tional stu­dent there will al­ways be ex­tra lay­ers of has­sle. i de­cided to work on some­thing that is within my ap­proach. So in­stead of work­ing on a new Hol­ly­wood block­buster movie be­fore i grad­u­ated i was work­ing on a stu­dent the­sis short film. Lit­tle did i know but this stu­dent the­sis short film (Soar) went ahead and won a Stu­dent os­car in 2015. Yet again this fail­ure of me not get­ting a visa ac­tu­ally turned out to be a game-chang­ing mo­ment. i re­alised that i had changed my fo­cus on get­ting a visa rather than why i came here in the first place. i went back to my cu­rios­ity, em­braced the ran­dom­ness and pur­sued my pas­sion and fig­ured the visa will fall in place. Four years in this in­dus­try and hav­ing worked on a lit­tle over 30 films/tv shows and here we are. i am glad that i took the leap of faith, i am glad that i failed be­cause now, “i’m what i think i am”.

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