The Chief behind Chiaff: In conversation with Sanjay Jangid

The Chief behind Chiaff: In conversation with Sanjay Jangid
Meet Sanjay Jangid, Dean at Chitkara Design School’s Animation Department and the brains behind Chiaff( Chitkara International Animation Film Festival). Hailing from a small town in Rajasthan to leading the young minds at Chitkara Design School, Sanjay’s journey is driven by his grit, determination and a larger-than-life vision for animation in India.
Large Canvas Paintings made by Sanjay during his early days between class 8th and 12th
After returning from school, I would eagerly create paintings on canvas with oils, long before I even knew the term "design."
Inspired by his grandfather- a talented portrait artist, Sanjay’s childhood was infused with mesmerizing visuals and the scent of oil paint on canvas. Sanjay found himself tinkering with new devices, materials and sometimes house repairs. He says, “Despite the occasional mishaps, I remained eager to learn and experiment; always seeking new challenges.”
Eventually, he found his way into NID, where, he got the opportunity to take his artistic and design thinking abilities to new heights. Despite the initial language barriers, Sanjay journeyed through NID, marking his growth, learning, and the discovery that ultimately shaped his passion for design and creativity.
The most significant of these years were his graduation project days. He says,” This [graduation] project has truly been a journey — a voyage with its share of challenges and triumphs. It's a testament to perseverance, navigating through thick and thin, and experiencing a unique ride of its own.”
Even though he had the chance to intern, Sanjay was determined to produce his own film. Working tirelessly in his workstation, which also doubled as his home in the back rows of the animation studio, he dedicated himself to completing his film.
This project taught me invaluable lessons about time management, budgeting, energy conservation, nurturing relationships, maintaining professionalism, and striving for excellence until every shot felt just right
Sanjay persisted through the lone midnights away from prying eyes within the academic building, juggling between his work desk and an improvised sleeping space. He graciously welcomed messages from batch mates and friends, including Sekhar Mukherjee and numerous others, for whose support he remains profoundly thankful for.
Surviving in the animation studio for two and a half years was no small feat, especially with just 1 GB of RAM, enduring the scorching Ahmedabad heat, with old studio ghosts for company, it was truly a phase of struggle and suspense at an uncertain future.
Luckily, Sanjay secured the censor board certificate for his film within a single day, and bolstered by his mother's encouragement, he promptly submitted the film for consideration at the National Film Awards. Reflecting on the journey, he remarks, “There are countless untold stories behind this project, each adding to its vivid experience”. Perhaps one day, over a steaming cup of chai, we'll have the pleasure of hearing some of these tales firsthand.
Now Dean at the Chitkara Design School, Sanjay oversees the Animation Design and Foundation departments; managing academic affairs, teaching, strategic initiatives, event coordination, student mentorship, collaborations, industry connections, networking, and supervising a team of both in-house and visiting professionals.
As a part of his Role, while travelling to bigger cities for festivals and events, Sanjay regretted not being able to expose his students to the talents and opportunities of these avenues. In an attempt to bring minds from all over India closer to home, Sanjay started Chiaff- Chitkara International Animation Film Festival.
I realized that every student deserved such an opportunity. I wanted to bring people together from different backgrounds onto a single platform to inspire students and facilitate networking with industry professionals. This vision sparked the inception of the festival.
He says,” It's about reconnecting with old acquaintances and forging new connections. I'm immensely grateful to my team, which comprises core members, students, teachers, and supporters of Chitkara's leadership. Together, we can achieve great things!”
Born from "chief" and "Chitkara International Animation Film Festival," Chiaff originated from a simple yet powerful idea: to forge meaningful relationships. The festival's charming mascot, Chief the bunny, serves as a symbol of the magic inherent in animation. Sanjay conceptualized and directed festival creatives including posters, promos, imbued with the underlying essence of being the “friendliest” animation festival, one that embraced all with open arms.
The year-long effort to organize and bring Chiaff to fruition was achieved through the dedication of a core team comprised of colleagues and students.
Sanjay reflects," I am immensely grateful for the dedication and hard work of the team members who contributed their time and energy to make the event a success. I also appreciate the support of the management and leadership at Chitkara, who believed in our vision and enabled us to bring it to fruition.”
I am proud to say that the festival exceeded my expectations, and we are already planning for the next edition. With the experience gained from this year's event, I am confident that we will continue to improve and deliver an even more remarkable festival in the future.
Talking about the future of Chitkara International Animation Film Festival, affectionately known as Chiaff, Sanjay envisions it to become the friendliest and expansive animation film festival in India, embraced by newcomers, students, and seasoned professionals alike.
While there need to be opportunities for regional animation to reach festival audiences, for cross-media collaborations, as well for design thinking to be integrated earlier into education, Sanjay remains optimistic about the future of the animation industry.
Delegates lined up post Chiaff24!
With a heightened focus on human-centric design education, promoting interdisciplinary collaborations, and emphasizing responsible design practices, Chitkara also empowers its students to create meaningful work while upholding high standards of work ethics.
Designers are increasingly aware of their role in creating a more sustainable future, and there's a need for sensitization towards responsible design practices. While it may seem like a daunting task, even small steps can make a difference.
As attention spans dwindle amidst our rapidly advancing technological environment, compounded by the advent of AI tools disrupting traditional image-making processes, students face the imperative of strengthening their fundamentals. Balancing technological innovation with the core principles of animation and design becomes paramount in this evolving landscape.
I would like consider it [Generative AI] as a tool. Years back, when we had teachers for Photoshop – a tool that changes the style of an image from a click, or like film roll cameras to digital cams, we got so excited about it!
Sanjay emphasizes that while incorporating Generative AI tools, critical thinking and ethical considerations are essential. He believes these tools are vital for both young and experienced creatives to explore and experiment with technology. After all, design education is all about adapting and innovating with the changing times.
AI is a much bigger paradigm shift which is going to affect all kind of fields. We as academicians have to plan and incorporate AI in the curriculum to make the students ready for the future
Sanjay, as a mentor, underscores the greater importance of recognizing students' individual strengths beyond proficiency with tools. He says,” At Chitkara Design School, our pedagogy emphasizes a more free-flowing approach to learning, focusing on result-oriented projects that allow students to build their portfolios from the very first year. We bring in professionals from both industry and academia to inspire and teach our students.”
Our curriculum is continually evolving to meet the challenges posed by advancing technology and changing times. It takes time to see the tangible results of an academic program, but we strive to align our offerings with the demands of the design field and industry
To students and young creatives entering the competitive creative landscape, Sanjay say,” My advice to students is to set smaller deadlines to achieve their goals. Success in design requires genuine passion and a sense of ownership. Once you take ownership of your decisions, going the extra mile becomes easier.”
It's about creating and listening to stories around us. I've witnessed significant changes in accessing animation and film festivals, both nationally and internationally. It's now easier to participate and obtain relevant information, all thanks to new forms and dimensions enabled by technology. The goal should be to reach out to more audiences and communities, fostering a vibrant cultural exchange.
On that note, we come to the end of this feature with Sanjay Jangid. His trials and triumphs are an inspiration to young and seasoned creatives alike, his vision for design education is unparalleled, and his insights invaluable. We thank him for his time and can’t wait to catch up with him again at the next edition of Chiaff!
You can reach out to Sanjay Jangid on the channels below:
Links to Chitkara Design School:
Links to Chiaff:
Sanjay Jangid