Immersive Art & Gaming with Anirudh Singh Shekhawat
Born to a lineage of decorated army and airforce officers that are prided unto this day, Anirudh Singh Shekhawat was born to create his own magical story in the world of virtual gaming and graphics. His inherent passion for stories and a fondness towards drawing would make it difficult for Anirudh to resist doodling on anything that he laid his hands on as a schoolboy. True to his artistic soul, no amount of ordeals or punishments that consequently followed could deter him from splashing out unending caricatures, often on his study material. His parents, one a journalist and the other an educationist, often worried about their son’s intensifying affair with art. His contemporaries were enrolling into more conventional streams of profession in reputed colleges, but Anirudh’s artistic intent was not just a fleeting hobby. Neither was it a personal act of scholarly rebellion. It was a life choice that he had willed upon himself to pursue and before long, Anirudh’s unrelenting efforts would win him his parent’s confidence as well.
As 90’s child, Anirudh’s life changed dramatically with the influx of cable television in India. Growing up, he came across a show called Splat on Discovery channel, which showcased the making of popular animated movies and video games. Anirudh candidly states, “it blew my mind- the thought that drawing all day could actually amount to a full-time job. At that moment, I just knew it that this was all that I wanted to do. I wanted to become an animator. My parents, teachers and everyone around me had a hard time figuring out what I really had in mind. To be honest, many continue to struggle with this understanding, but when my parents saw me get down to training myself and churning out some pieces of work, they became my biggest cheerleaders.”
Back when Anirudh started specialising in the field, the country lacked good visual design institutes. This made him turn to online education and YouTube, which he admits became his best friend. Self-learning was a relatively slow and challenging process no doubt, but Anirudh decided to capitalise on it as much as he could. Now, over a decade later, Anirudh is a part of Nodding Heads Games, a Pune-based studio wherein he is developing a video game called Raji, through which he and his team plan on putting the Indian gaming industry on the world map.
It is Anirudh’s firm belief that India remains relatively unexplored in terms of indigenous pop culture and video games, and dreams to recreate the magic of the 80’s in the West, wherein virtual gaming and digital graphics had undergone a gigantic surge. In his own words, “my aim is to create a lot of content that takes inspiration from different cultures of the Indian society and present it in a way that is appealing to a global audience.”
Despite his deep fascination with the world of animation and concept art, Anirudh earlier considered art to be a highly selfish and self-centred profession. In his opinion, he didn’t find artistic contribution to equate that of medical or technological professionals in the advancement of their societies. Art, to Anirudh seemed to be limited merely to aesthetic and hence, to the superficial realms of existence until a coming of age realisation which he shares: “I eventually realised that in a world where everyone is so caught up in life and work, art and entertainment provide a crucial getaway from the monotonies of life and keep people sane. Having said that, I keep it in mind to make my artistic content as immersive as possible, wherein it invites people to want to be in its place.” Anirudh admits to the relatively limited templates of fantasy and sci-fi storytelling. However, he believes that when moulded through different cultural perspectives, storytelling emerges in refreshingly innovative directions.
The budding concept artist continues to elaborate on his cultural emphasis in that, “I also try to find ways to take things which the current generation finds uncool and present it in a cool manner. Sadly, our ancient history and art, which are so rich in nature, have been made to be perceived by younger generations as bland and unappealing. I hope to represent and repackage them for the newer generations to duly savour and proudly cherish.”
With less than a year to go for the unveiling of his landmark video game project, Raji, Anirudh is all geared up for some very busy months ahead. He is excitedly looking forward to represent the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan in this project, which forms the geographical backdrop to Raji. Sure, there are struggles and a constant inflow of demotivation in the artistic world, but Anirudh caricatures on with one of his favourite mantras by comedian Kanan Gill, which reads, “life is actually like video games. When you are on level 1, you wish you had bigger and more powerful weapons so that you could kill the monsters faster. Eventually, you do get more powerful weapons but the monsters become way more powerful too. So you have to fight it out and become stronger with each step.”
Rajputana Collective wishes this anime crusader all the very best and looks forward to his upcoming launch.