The three cinematic expressions of 405 Posted on March 16 2020

Since 405 came out a few years back, readers have been telling us how much this short silent comic has moved them. A fellow comic maker has told us how his elderly mother was moved by it; we’ve seen people who have never read comics in their adult life rediscover that a heartbreaking story can be told through just visuals; numerous art & design students have told us how 405 has inspired them to make their own comics, like Dony Jose's Friends with Rain.


If you have read 405, then you already know that Murali and Krithika had initially conceived of this story as a short film. The logistics and demands of an extensive outdoor shoot across multiple locations in Bangalore made it an impossible proposition (primarily from a budget standpoint)… but instead of giving up, they took the kernel of the idea that became 405 and crafted a completely new story out of it… the protagonist became an elderly woman who returns to her home after a long period of absence… and like her mirror-self in the book, she is also on a search, albeit of a different heartbreaking kind.

Shot over two days in a large old house in Malleswaram (Bangalore), with a two-member cast and crew of close friends (Tina & I were part of this motley gang), this film became the first (of three) cinematic expressions of 405, and was called THE VISITOR.

The visitor - screengrab

A few years later, in 2018, we received a mail from Riya, then a Communicative Studies student at Mount Carmel College in Bangalore. She and her classmates discovered 405, and loved it so much that they adapted it into a short film called AYAAL - which translates from Malayalam to “He” or “That man”.

Set in Kerala, their short film took the core idea of the book, added a backstory for the titular character (the protagonist from the book) and cheekily changed the numerical identity to 404.

Ayaal - screengrab from the short film

Soon after we discovered Ayaal, Shanawaz Nellikunnil (a friend of our friends) wrote to us to acquire the rights to adapt 405 into a short film. Shanawaz planned to direct the adaptation and it would be shot by our friend Aslam (a cinematographer based in Bombay) who had also shot The Visitor – so none of us had any second thoughts about this official adaptation of the comic.

Shanawaz, his lead actor Danaanjay Talwade and Aslam took 405 and made it their own… their short film was true to the original comic and yet, it also stood apart as a different interpretation… and it was a little uncanny to see the story that we were so familiar with unfold through a different pair of eyes.

Shanawaz decided to retain the original title, and we absolutely love the animated interpretation of the 405 title in the film.

405 short film title design

To our surprise and immense delight, the film was selected to the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (it was one of the 80 films selected from 9193 submissions from across the world).

While it didn’t garner any awards at the festival, it was heartening to hear stories of people in the audience asking well-thought-of, insightful questions about the film in the post-screening Q&A… and even days later, when they encountered the team on the streets or in coffee shops and restaurants in the small French town, after which the festival takes it’s name.

405 - screengrab from the shortfilm

It’s been 7 years since Murali first told us the story of 405 and it remains one of our favourite stories ever.

It’s inspiring and humbling to know that our first standalone title resonated with people far and wide… and that it also exists as three short films, each one so distinct and unique, and yet rooted in the same silent story that inspired their creation.


405 graphic novella
Click here or on the above image to see a preview of the graphic novella.





We turned 6 today! Posted on February 14 2020

6 years ago, on this night, Tina, Siljith (one of our closest friends) and I were having dinner at our home in Bangalore. The topic of discussion was the name for the new company we were starting (after Manta Ray had to close operations in end Dec 2013). We’d tried out more than 50+ names by then and even shortlisted 5, but we weren’t really happy about any of them.

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the word KOKAACHI sprung to my mind and I blurted it out. The Kokaachi is the monster our grandmothers (or mothers/ aunts) told us about when we were kids – a creature that came to catch little children who made a fuss about eating food. It was a scary monster from our childhood, the star attraction in the first story we remember being told.

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya

Tina wasn’t sure at first; the evil, negative connotations of the childhood story worried her… and it would take another three weeks for her to warm up to the word and love it. In the meantime, we polled our close friends, brothers and families… and most of them loved the name. Rajiv (Eipe) told us he loved this more than any of the other options we had thought of, that the name came from our roots – his feedback was a huge eye-opener for us, ‘cos we hadn’t considered this at all. Another friend (I forget who) remarked that it sounded like the name of a Japanese gaming company; we took that as a positive sign, that Kokaachi had an international flavour.

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya

But the most exciting element was the possibilities the name offered us. All the other names we had thought of were standalone English words or combinations, and none of them had the website urls we’d wanted. But when we typed “kokaachi” into the search bar, even Google didn’t know what it was. We immediately knew we had something special in our hands - the name offered us an infinite canvas to explore and imagine and create with – and we’ve had the good fortune of doing this with our friends and collaborators and their Kokaachis, and will continue to do so.

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya

On the flip side, we’d anticipated (and faced in these past six years) snarky comments, smirks, jibes and jokes made at the expense of our name – at the post office, when we introduce ourselves to strangers, when people read the name on our masthead at book fairs, events or flea markets. But, the name immediately transforms into a conversation starter, people are curious about the name, why we chose this, and we love to tell this story about our origins. And we love how KOkaaCHI contains the name of our beloved, home city where we have made our base.

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya

KOKAACHI wouldn’t exist today without the kindness and good will of so many, many people. From Prabha (Mallya) who designed our look + identity (and the various explorations which you see here), to all the storytellers, creators and illustrators who have worked, collaborated and published with us; from the clients who have commissioned us to bring their stories to life, to the mentors who have guided us; and our friends and family who have stood by our side, given us courage and supported us in more ways that we can count or ever repay – we are forever thankful to each and every one of them.

We have so many memories from these 6 years, and as we enter the 7th year of our life as Kokaachi, we excitedly look forward to the new ones that await us!

 - Pratheek

Kokaachi logo design explorations by Prabha Mallya


Perfect Sundays Posted on September 24 2019


Last Sunday was perfect - lazy, laid back and a lot of reading. It was just perfect.

"There is something about Sundays. It's a different feel..." Pratheek said.
We were having breakfast. "It's in our heads, I think", I replied.

Post-lunch, we had planned to go to Cherai beach, which is about 20 kilometers away from our place. Going there on Sundays used to be our sacred tradition, until the rains claimed the beach. 
It'd been a few months since our last visit to the sea and we had been waiting to go.
And both of us love the waters more than any other landscape - we're Pisceans, after all!! :)

We reached Chilli Out - a cafe that looks over the beach (run by the wonderful Eddy and his team of chechis) - around 4:30 pm and the first thought we had was: " Why didn't we come here all these months?"

The sea was calm, the sound of the waves was music to our ears and the horizon looked ethereal.
We go to the beach to enjoy these sights. We never step into the water, swim or bathe.
We just sit on the shore and enjoy the beauty of slowness and stillness.

Jackie, the cafe's resident dog came to us and we said "Hello" to each other.
A crow came and sat on the pole outside the cafe.
A hawk (kite?) swooped down to the sea from high in the sky and caught a small fish in it's claws.
How did it see that tiny fish from such a great height, we marvelled!
But we could only wonder - who, but nature knows the answers to these puzzles?

And then, more kites (hawks?) started coming in from all directions. They circled above us... high in the sky. Pratheek counted 38 of them, all flying together, circling and swerving, afloat on unseen air currents. We looked up at this splendid sight, stunned, speechless.

As the hawks slowly flew away and the sky became clear, the sun started to go down.
Jackie came and sat near us, at his favourite spot and together we watched the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen.

A perfect orange globe suspended between a layer of golden clouds and horizon, like a painting, yet real. It dipped slowly, slowly into the water.

We couldn't blink, we sat there enthralled, enchanted.

As we drove back home, we mused over the way we confine ourselves indoors and keep staring at our glowing screens (like I do now), while nature creates such magic every moment!
How stupid we humans can be!

That night, Pratheek didn't wish me 'Good night'  before going to sleep.
Instead he said " Do remind us to go to Cherai every Sunday from now on".
I smiled. Those words were more beautiful than wishing me a good night, I thought to myself.
Those words wished us perfect Sundays from now on... and forever.

Thank you, dear Universe.
Thank you for this perfect Sunday.

~ Tina

Making TIGER BABY smile Posted on August 14 2019

Last year, we got to design the title credits for the Netflix anthology film, Lust Stories

Lust Stories_title credits_scenes from Zoya Akhtar's film

One of the films in LS was by Zoya Akhtar, and soon after the film came out, she wrote to us... telling us that that she loved the credit sequence we’d created (yay!!) and that she wanted us to animate the logo for her new production house, Tiger Baby.

Needless to say, we jumped the chance to collaborate with her.

Zoya already had the logo designed, so we were coming on board to animate this logo and bring it to life. The scope of work was much smaller than anything we’d done before… but as we would soon discover, making a tigress smile was not going to be an easy task!

Tiger Baby logo

Logo Design // Creative Director: Sahil Arora / Designer: Hanisha Tirumalasetty

After we heard Zoya's brief, the first thing we did was translate it into a concept script:

The screen is dark. A doorbell rings. A circular door opens in the dark screen, and we see Tiger Baby, looking at us. She smiles and says, “Say Cheese!” and raises the camera to her eye, looking at us through it. Click and the flash bursts in bright white. The white halo of the flash fades away to reveal… the logo art with the Tiger Baby title. The diamond brooch sparkles and cut to black.

We always create animatics for any animation project we take up, and it was no different here. Once the script was approved, we did a pretty basic animatic, just to get an idea of the timing and actions of the character.


In our first take of the logo animation, we stayed close to the script but put in a scratch male (!) voice.

It didn't work, of course. In Zoya's own words, "The voice intonation was awful" - which it was!

It was really strange to hear a man's voice come from her mouth, and we can't remember whose bright idea it was to use to a male voice (we should have just looked harder for an apt female voice.)

Tiger Baby's voice is feminine and sexy... and Zoya had an artist in mind for this, but her dates never lined up for the recording. Finally, it was decided to drop the “Say Cheese!” completely from the animation.

(We have since wondered if Tiger Baby is the kind of tigress who quips, “Say Cheese!” Probably not.)

With the dialogue gone, the focus shifted to Tiger Baby’s smile.

The question was, how do you make a tigress smile and yet retain her regal demeanor? 
We tried out a few different smiles, here’s one of the more smiley ones.

While Tiger Baby was trying out various smiles, we were fashioning arms & hands for her.

Would her arm have stripes, like a tigress? Or would it be a human arm?
What kind of hand would it be? What were her fingers like? 
During our initial explorations, her arm carried the stripes.
But eventually it became a woman’s hand, without the black bands.

Tiger Baby_logo animation_hand explorations

And then, we dropped the smiley face as well, and everything just... fell into place.

Looking back now, it’s quite wonderful to see how the character evolved from the initial brief: from a perky, cheerful tigress, she evolved into a graceful, stately empress.

TIGER BABY was finally ready to meet the world.


x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

5 years of Kokaachi Posted on July 29 2019

One night, while we were having dinner, Pratheek suggested the name KOKAACHI for the storytelling house we were planning to launch. Kokaachi is the name of the character from the first story we ever heard as kids, the imaginary monster who would come and catch naughty kids who refused to eat their food.

We loved the name and shared it with our friends and family and all of them loved Kokaachi. Some of them said that this name was apt as it came from our roots. Some noticed the 'Kochi' in Kokaachi. And a few even said that Kokaachi has a Japanese ring to it (Oh! We love Japan for Miyazaki and Murakami and Muji! :))

But our biggest surprise was when we searched for Kokaachi online. Mother goddess Google who knows everything above and below the sun didn't know what a Kokaachi was! Whoa! That just opened immense possibilities for us to imagine, interpret and visualise this spooky character from our childhood.

And so, we launched Kokaachi with a campaign called "30 days of Kokaachi". We collaborated with 30+ amazing artists and illustrators whom we loved, asking them to draw the Kokaachi of their imagination.

30 days of Kokaachi 2014

But that was 5 years back. Back then, this name, the stories we wanted to tell and the journey we wanted to make was just an idea, a BIG dream in our small hearts.

This year, as we complete 5 years of Kokaachi, we have once again collaborated with 30+ new artists to make a whole bunch of new kokaachis.  

30 days of Kokaachi 2019

We are humbled by the love and affection you've shown us all these years. There have been moments of struggles, heart-breaks, self-doubt... we have even come to the verge of giving up this path of stories... but turned back each time.

We have come this far only because of ALL OF YOU.

Thank you for believing in us.
Thank you for collaborating with us.
Thank you for reading us.
Thank you for LOVING us.


Deepest love from our hearts,
Tina, Pratheek, Dash, Bolt, Sox & Surumi.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

A day at Vara! Posted on February 06 2016

Jemma Jose was one of the 31 people who attended Vara! 02. She went on to create a comic about her experience at the event.

Vara 01 Posted on December 05 2015

24HCDKochi - Photo Gallery Posted on October 07 2015

Photos from the 24 Hour Comics Day 2015

24 Hour Comics Day at Studio Kokaachi Posted on October 06 2015

We did something scary and are proud of it. While it was fun to invite a diverse bunch of artist-storytellers over to our new studio to spend straight 24 hours making comics, we weren't sure how it will all turn out in the end. But we swallowed our self-doubt; having a bunch of interesting people to hang out with was great itself.

The event was splendid and a LOT of comics were made. Here our good friend and comics creator Roshan tells all about #24HCDkochi. Thanks, Rosh!

24 Hour Comics Day 2015 Posted on September 18 2015

24 Hour Comics Day falls on October 3 this year, and we're hosting the Kochi edition of this international event!

Though 24 Hour Comics Day has been celebrated for the past 10 years, this is probably the first time that Kochi is joining other cities across the world. And we're bringing together creators from different parts of the country - Kochi, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad - for this very first edition!

No Coincidences Posted on July 05 2015

After a long break, we're back to our first love, comics... and we wanted to glance back one last time, before we surge ahead into the unknown.

A few days ago, Tina and I were at our friend Esther's wedding reception and that got me thinking about our journey in comics from 2009 to where we are now. In many ways, it was Esther who sent us down a path that has brought us to where we are today, and looking back, it feels strange to see how the dots connect.

The short version: There are no coincidences.