Meet Najeeb, the Kerala artist who hand-drew the illustrations in the Dear CSK video

Najeeb Thottungal, an architect-turned-illustrator drew 3000+ frames to make the now viral Dear CSK video
Najeeb illustrating the video
Najeeb illustrating the video

If you're an internet user who isn't living under a rock, it is quite unlikely that you'd have missed the short film Dear CSK. The video certainly managed to cheer the Chennai Super Kings fans who were celebrating the team's return to the IPL and millions of women, who were tied down by patriarchy and restrictions.

Did you know that every frame of this video that has attracted much attention and praise, was hand drawn? All the 3,000+ frames in this seven-minute-long video were drawn by Najeeb Thottungal, the illustrator at the YouTube channel Fully.

After 50 odd days of hard work of illustrating the concept frame by frame, the 24-year-old  illustrator is undoubtedly elated at the success of the video. "This is the first time that I attempted such a huge project. Dear CSK is the first animated film that I worked on," he says.

Watch out: The Dear CSK video by Fully

Growing up, Najeeb was always inclined towards arts. Back in school, he never missed an opportunity to take part in a drawing competition. As time passed, he grew mature and opted for a career in architecture. But that was short lived. "I couldn't take the pressure of a monotonous corporate job. After a point, I realised that I belong in a creative field. So I quit my job," he says. After freelancing as an artist for a few months, he finally joined Fully Filmy as an illustrator.

Later, Fully Filmy rebranded its YouTube channel as Fully and the team was working on a series of videos on Women's issues. That was when Raunaq Mangottil, film's director, proposed the idea of making a film completely out of stop-frame animations. Initially, Najeeb was a bit doubtful. But later he attempted to draw the frames for a 10-second-long film. "The project came out really well. I literally got goosebumps when I saw my drawings transcending to an animated film. At that time, I knew that this would work," says Najeeb. 

Najeeb hasn't drawn the protagonist's face anywhere. That was a decision made on purpose. "The face will give the character a unique identity. But we didn't want that. She is a representative of all the young women around us," he says.

Cricket love: A screen grab from the video

The journey wasn't smooth. There were times when Najeeb thought that he wouldn't make it. "Some frames are easy to draw. But things like a butterfly's wing flap and turning of hands are a bit difficult to draw. But my entire team was really supportive. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, all of us were living in the office," he says.

Did Najeeb expect his creation to become a hit when he started illustrating? "I didn't think about the views at all," he says, adding, "Honestly, it doesn't matter to me. I am just so happy and satisfied that I could do so much. I'm happy to express my creativity."  Also, Najeeb now knows that illustration is the way to go. "I love doing this. Now there is no turning back, he says.

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