top of page

An animation film on Gender Equality and Female Foeticide

This short film is a story about a young girl, Muskaan who accidentally happens to know that her mother is being forced to undergo a test to determine the sex of her unborn child, and the child would be aborted if it turns out to be a girl.

Muskaan takes up the challenge to change the mind of everyone in the family to save them from committing such an inhumanly act. While convincing her family member she breaks many gender biases and notions prevalent in the society that drive people to commit Female Foeticide.


DWCD Himachal Pradesh. In Partnership with ACC Cement


Making of Muskaan

The Origin of Muskaan

The idea for an animated film started earlier in July 2015 when the then District Magistrate (DM) of Bilaspur district, Ms Manasi Sahay Thakur happened to see some of the films designed by Girgit Studios. She was impressed by the sensitivity with which the films were designed for children on topics as sensitive as child sexual abuse. Ms Manasi was spearheading a campaign called Muskaan in Himachal to discourage Female Feticide. She and other DMs of other neighboring districts were trying to fight the scenario through various means; at administrative level by enforcing law and system to register, track and monitor pregnancies until child birth, by cracking down on clinics practicing illegal sex determination and organizing seminars and workshops with community to sensitize them on Female Feticide. Ms Manasi felt that a long term solution can come only through behavioral change of the adults and sensitization of the youth.

Though Animation medium struck her owing to it’s connect with the youth, she was soon convinced that the visual uniqueness animation medium offers will grab the attention of even elder audience when she approached us. 

At Girgit Studios we approach each short film with a systematic Design Thinking methodology. For the story ideation we firstly gathered articles, consulted activists, writers and psychologists to understand the subject of Female Feticide in depth in context of Himachal Pradesh. We attended a community workshop conducted by Ms Manasi in Himachal where we brainstormed on various possible reasons of why people indulge in Female Feticide. We listed all the reasons that came forth and systematically tried to counter each reason or notion in our story. And also we finally concluded that for the youth the core message needs to be “Gender Equality” in the context of Female Fetecide. We worked on multiple story approaches and finalized on this one. The intention was to equip the young generation with answers to all the prejudices thrown at them by their family to discard a girl child when they were to become parents. Also we wanted to sensitize them to the subject to identify any such activity going on in their immediate family and fight it back.


Contextual Research and Recce

The design team at Girgit visited the Bilaspur and Hamirpur district of Himachal for visual research study. We visited schools, colleges, villages and towns. Interacted with youngsters of various age groups, elders of villages, school and college faculties and various people in the community by discussing gender biases and gauged their awareness and sensitivity towards the issue of Female feticide. We also documented the clothing, house architectures and environments of the region. Before the research trip we had the story plot ready so we could also look for specific references for the film.


Character Development

We made sure there was a character in the story for every stakeholder target audience to relate to. While younger school kids had Muskaan and Tunnu to relate with, Ranjana was meant to be role model for college girls. Rajesh (Muskaan’s college going uncle) was included to represent the young men who need to step up and express their respect for women. Similarly the characters of Sarita, Manoj and Daadi were representations of various mindsets in the society. The character of the chameleon, had a significant role in the story too especially contributing to the character arcs of Muskaan, Tunnu and Daadi. Like most village children Muskaan plays by trapping the chameleon to play pranks on others initially, only to realize the pain she might be inflicting on it later in the film when she learns the value of life equally in every living being. 

Also during the research trip we found that Transport business and Govt Office Jobs were one of the most popular profession in the region. Such details came handy while defining the characters in context of their professions. The story and script was first carefully crafted to define the personalities of each character. Each character in the story had a character arc, had their own learning curve.

We started with some sketches of the protagonist Muskaan, a 9-10 year old, naughty, witty and affable Himachali girl. We explored some character poses and expressions along with body proportions, hair styles and costumes.

Extending the character explorations into colour, we tried capturing the pastel shades commonly worn in the region. The textures in the winter clothing specially got us interested that we decided to capture it in our character visualisations.

Keeping Muskaan as the reference we designed the other main characters of the film, taking inspiration from our visual research in terms of body proportions, costumes and body language to make sure the characters seem relatable to local audience of Himachal.

A few characters were added in the story that were inspired from the people we met during research trip. For example, in the group of college students that we interacted with in Rajakiya Sthanakottar Mahavidyalay, Bilaspur, there were girls who were pursuing NCC. Many of the girl’s in the school we went to, have the ambition of becoming a police officer when they grow up. This inspired the character of “Ranjana” and the “lady Police officer” in the film.

Character sketches of all the characters in the film

The characters modelled, textured and rendered in 3D



The location is inspired from our study visit to a locality near Rishi Markandeya Temple in Bilaspur. The neighbourhood was designed keeping the story requirements in mind- we needed a common courtyard, a nearby access road and a clear view of the valley in the backdrop.

Creating the environments in 3D- The wireframe and camera views of the model before texturing.


Recoring with Voice Actors

We got some of the finest voice talents in the industry to voice the characters who added a new life the into them. We decided to record the voices first to incorporate their voice acting nuances into their body language. Sonal Kaushal, the voice behind the popular character like Chhota Bheem and Doraemon was the voice for Muskaan, the protagonist of the film.

Music for the Film

A popular Himachali band 'Laman' did the background score for the film, in which they did their own rendition of a popular folk song from Himachal, 'Morni'.

Acting Reference

For Muskaan we wanted a unique Indian touch to the character body language in animation. Most of the experienced character animators had a distinct American body language. So we decided to shoot acting references for the entire film. We got in touch with an experimental theater group in Pune. We did a couple of days of character building and animation orientation workshop with them before actually shooting the character acting reference for the entire film.


Here's an example how our reference came through in the final film


Animation Production

Swarup Deb, Anuj Kumar and Avinash Medhe worked on the theme study and visual research, developed the story, Sreenplay, Character Designs, Art treatment and storyboards. Dhiraj Moolya, was the Technical Director and managed the production. Supriya Mamarde headed the CG Art. A team of over 15 animation artists worked on the 3D and 2D animation production using Blender and Adobe suit.

We use Blender for the 3D animation production for projects at Girgit Studios. Enrico Moras our Technical Supervisor on the project took on the challenge. We had to spend at least 10-15 days orienting animators to blender before they appreciated this tool.

We were exploring cloth physics, fire and rain dynamics in Blender for the first time during Muskaan. That took us sometime to figure out and achieve the output we desired. But we had fun figuring it out.

We got a set of talented interns from MITID who worked on the 2D Montage sequences and the illustrated motion graphics at the end credits.

The project started in January 2016 and was released on 8th March 2017. It took almost a year from story development to release.


Release and Reception of Muskaan

The film is meant to be shown to students of senior secondary schools and colleges followed by discussions and interactions with the students. Also the film shall be used in various community workshops being conducted by Ms Manasi and her team across the region to sensitize them on the subject of gender equality and female feticide.

The film was premiered on 8th March on the celebration event of Women’s Day in Shimla in the presence of Honorable Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Veerbhadra Singh. The film is published on youtube for free access to everyone, where it got over 15,000 organic views in a matter of 5 days of its uploading. Ministry of women and child development and many more Govt bodies have appreciated and promoted the film through their channels on social media. DWCD Himachal Pradesh is distributing DVDs of the film to be shown schools and colleges of Himachal. They also broadcasted it through local cable networks. The film is being used in various community workshops on gender Equality and Female Feticide.

On the premiere day, Shimla’s heritage Gaiety Theater was packed with an audience of over 500. Noticing the audience reaction is the biggest reward for any filmmaker. The response was overwhelming. When we saw the audience gasping, laughing, murmuring and sighing at the points we intended them to, we were satisfied to know our design worked. We received heartfelt appreciation over social media. A Himachali Facebook Page live streamed the film that gathered over 20k views and hundreds of comments. Though the film is designed in the local context of Himachal, yet the content is relevant and resonating with the entire country. We’re glad people are sharing the film and also encouraging us to spread the message as much as possible. The intention of the film is to make people acknowledge, talk and discuss about Gender Equality and Female feticide. And we’re glad to see people doing that after every screening and online viewing.

The Suzanne Awards are given to artists using Blender, to inspire, encourage and realise their outstanding artwork. In 2017, Girgit Studio’s Muskaan won the best short award at Suzzane Film Festival.


Project Coordination
Manasi Sahay Thakur

Directed by
Avinash Medhe

Art and Production Design
Anuj Kumar

Creative Producer
Swarup Deb

Story and Screenplay
Avinash Medhe
Swarup Deb
Anuj Kumar

Technical Director & Production Manager
Dhiraj Moolya

CG Art Director
Supriya Mamarde

Technical Supervisor
Enrico Moras

Background Music
Shishir Chauhan

Sound Recordist
Akshav Chauhan
Mayur Mochemadkar

Mixing Engineer
Manoj Mochemadkar

Sound Production
Mad Frames

Song "Morni" by Laman Band
Vocals by Abhishek Bisht
Music Rendition by Shishir Chauhan

3D MOdeLLing
Supriya Mamarde
Enrico Moras
Gunjan Saharavat
Anurag Salgaonkar

Texturing, Lighting & Rendering
Supriya Mamarde
Ajinkya Deshpande
Ranjit Rathod

Swapnil Aswar
Ankush Chavan

Character Rig
Enrico Moras

Character Animation
Swapnil Aswar
Jishnav Iver
Dinesh Rawat
Ajinkva Deshpande
Ankush Chavan
Amol Chavan
Vivek Das
Swapnil Ingale
Vinay Sudhindran
Avinash Medhe

2D Animation Design
Mriganka Bhuvan

Title And Credits Design
Aadil Sayyed
Rishav Bisht

2D Animation
Mriganka Bluvan
Rajdeep Dutta

Dhiraj Moolva

Character Voices
Muskaan | Sonal Kaushal
Daadi | Namita Gupta
Sarita (Mother)| Sabina Malik
Manoj (Father) | Manish Bhuvan
Mr Rana Rajesh (Chachu)| Anshul Chandra
Ranjana/Nurse | Muskaan Jaaferi
Durga | Balvinder Kaur
Police/ Doctor | Barkha Swaroop Sayena
Principal | Meena Nahata

Acting Reference Shoot
Acting Director | Girish Datar
Muskaan | Vugandhara Joshi
Daadi/Durga/Police Shruti Kulkarni Sarila/Principal | Sanchita Shitole
Manoj (Father) | Swapnil Kanase
Chachu/Doctor/Mr Rana | Girish Datar
Ranjana | Ankita Naik
Tunnu | Sanket Joshl

Shoot Facilitators
Mahesh Bhosle
Aditi Jain

Song "MORNI"
Violin | Jeetu
Flute | Shreeram Sampath
Ukulele & Guitar | Vinny Rego
Programming And Arrangement | Brinchi Bohra, Shishir Chauhan
Recording Studio | Kuber
Sound Engineer | Hemant

Vicky Arolkar & Nikhil Katkar

Assistant Mixing Engineer
Sandeep Madkholkar

Content Sensitization
Manasi Sahay Thakur .IAS
Rohan Chand Thakur. IAS
Ashwini Dhongde
Sabu Mathew George




DWCD Himachal Pradesh. In Partnership with ACC Cement

bottom of page