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The Disney Man : Kiran Bhakta Joshi

-Arjun Gurung
with inputs from Kshitij Regmi

2007-04-24

Kiran Bhakta Joshi, the Nepali genius behind the Disney masterpieces like "The Lion King" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", has made a name and a place for himself in the magical world of animation movies - Walt Disney. True to his name, Kiran offers a ray of hope to all Nepalese who aspire to make it big. E-Nasha had an exclusive interview with the man himself in which he shared with us some his  fond memories, his work and  lifestyle details, his pearls of wisdom and also his meeting with Jennifer Garner !!

Biography
  
Born in Tahachal Kathmandu, Kiran has fond memories of having spent most of his childhood playing local traditional games like "Aspass", "Guchha" and "Gha-Cha". Growing up he dreamt of being a pilot. He did his SLC and Senior Cambridge from Saint Xavier's School and his I.Sc from Amrit Science Campus. In 1981 he left for the United States where he did his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from California State University, Long Beach.

However as fate would have it, the young man who had always dreamt of becoming a pilot, found himself fascinated by computers. IBM had just come out with the very first personal computer in 1980. Kiran knew that the PC would soon revolutionize the world. He decided it was something he had to be a part of. And the rest is history.

Kiran Bhakta Joshi is happily married to Deepa Joshi and is the proud father of an eleven year old daughter Aisha. Despite having lived in the states for 26 years, Kiran and his family still keep themselves in touch with their traditions. They prepare Nepali cuisines on a regular basis and celebrate almost all Nepali Festivals with the residing 40 plus Joshi clans.

A typical day in the life of Kiran Bhakta Joshi

On workdays, Kiran starts his day with an hour of exercising in the local gym. He then sees his daughter to school. An hour’s ride to his office brings him to work at 9 am.

Depending on the phases of progress the movie is going through, Kiran's work varies. During the production stage, he spends most of the time guiding the production staff and making sure that the director's vision is ending up on the screen. Normally he meets his leadership team in the morning with whom he gets updated status on various projects. Then he makes his daily inspection rounds with his leads. Next he meets the director and producer to discuss on topics and issues of the movie. Till lunch he does rounds with the director on approvals of art directions and animations. After lunch, which is usually lunch meetings, Kiran turns his attention to the guiding of production artists and technicians and also to make sure they are keeping up to meet their weekend deadlines. In between he has to attend different meetings like story reviews, editorials, director approvals, budget reviews, technological guidance and so on. Finally at around 5 in the afternoon he gets sometime to sit down in his office and check his mails and prepare for the next day. Surprisingly, at the end of the day he sometimes still has enough energy to work on some scenes himself.         

By the time he reaches home it’s already 8.30 pm. He has his dinner and shares some time with his wife and daughter.        

 On weekends he enjoys unwinding with friends and families. Together they watch movies and play cards. With a large Nepalese community in LA, there is always a party or gathering at some ones place. On longer holidays, he prefers to go on short trips like visiting the mountains or hitting the ski slopes. Sometimes simply doing house chores takes a larger part of his free time. 

Career

Kiran loves the fact that his job is anything but monotonous. With the different stages in movie making, each task, he finds each scene unique. Thus everyday new problems and challenges are created.
"Movie making is a collaborate effort", explains Kiran "and I enjoy the interaction with the various people it demands".

However Kiran dislikes the fact that the film industry has a lot of 'eccentric' and 'egoistical' people and the politics that runs in the business creates a rather stressful environment.

When asked if he sees himself more of a moviemaker or an engineer, he replies that though he started as an computer engineer, over the years, he has transitioned into more artistic roles. He admits that in fact he has not programmed for the last 8 years. So he considers himself to be more of a movie maker.

As the Visual Efx supervisor, his job is to execute the film both technically and artistically. His responsibilities include planning and budgeting the film. He hires and puts together all the production, artistic and technical team. He also defines the production pipeline, which includes developing the technology and tools to make the film. He guides both the technical and artistic team in creating shots for the film. "If the director of the film can be seen as a composer of an orchestra, I play the role of the conductor" Kiran simplifies.

Having worked from the Lion King to Rapunzel, Kiran has witnessed a complex change in the production value. He admits that advanced technology has made almost anything possible these days.

Working with the Stars

Working in Disney, and learning the art of animation in a place where it all started has been a dream come true for Kiran. Working side by side with legendary animators and filmmakers, he states he has learnt a lot.

Kiran sometimes gets to meet the stars when they drop in for casting, voice recording or performance references. He gives us an example of the time when he once worked with the beautiful Jennifer Garner on an animated piece for the Oscars. He recounts those nervous initial 5 minutes with her. Up close with such a beautiful celebrity, he admits he was dumbstruck.

One of the celebrities he looks forward to working with is Leonardo Di Caprio, whom he defines as "a versatile actor".

Personality

Kiran defines himself as a very passionate person. He considers himself as a very direct person who lets others know what’s on his mind. A guy who loves to joke, he is known to his near ones as a comedian.

We asked him how he viewed life to which he gave a pretty interesting answer. He sees life as a film which has three acts. The first act is when we define our character. The time when we grow up, learn and discover our potentials. The second act is that of exploring. The age when we start exploring or venture into our surroundings - relationships, work, family, friends and peers. "Every conflict in life makes us stronger and a more complete individual" he reflects. The third and final act is where you use your knowledge to give back to the society. Here we make sacrifices to serve humanity.

Success and fame to Kiran are only an advantage to make a positive difference in the lives of others. "A person is successful in terms of what he has contributed to mankind. Fame and money are only tools that one can use to achieve this goal." Like with his movies, Kiran wishes to touch the hearts and lives of people through his actions.

His perspective of New Nepal and the New Generation

 Kiran keeps his self updated on Nepal by visiting nepalnews.com 3-4 times a week. In regard to the current situation of Nepal, he believes that the New Nepal is capable of reaching greater heights provided there is peace and stability in Nepal. For this he suggests that the government put the people’s agenda above their own and restore peace and law.

Nepal's biggest asset he believes is its people and its beauty. Under proper circumstances and over time, he concludes that these types of resources can make a huge difference in the nation’s economy.

For those who want to pursue their education aboard, he encourages them to pursue their dreams. He suggests “to choose a major that you truly have a passion for, and to think of what you would like to do with that qualification after having finished your education”.

He gave us his expert suggestion on the potentiality for animators in Nepal itself. "Animation being an artistic medium relies heavily on manpower whether the animation is traditional or computer generated" he explains. "With Labor costs rising drastically in the West, more and more production work is being outsourced to the East." However for this he suggests that Nepal must raise the talent and skill set of the artists and technicians in Nepal.

Some of his Favorites:

  • Favorite Place – My favorite place in US is the Caribbean Islands. Favorite place in Nepal is my hometown, Tahachal. I have lots of fond memories there.
  • Food – Sushi & momo.
  • Movie - Gladiator
  • Genre of music – Hip-hop, rock
  • Time of the day – Evening
  • Favorite personality – President Bill Clinton
  • Favorite quote – “Advice is a thankless task. The wise don’t need it and fools won’t take it.”

Kiran Joshi after having a worked for 16 years is planning on leaving Disney in the next 3-6 months to pursue other projects. He also has visions of returning to Nepal some day and help build Nepal’s film and animation Industry.

 

 
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