By Praveen Lance Fernandes (IndiaFM News Bureau)
“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole
thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” – These were the inspiring
words of Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and many more
popular animated cartoon films.
Children and families will have something really entertaining to look
forward to in the next couple of years. Reason – The number of animated
films that are currently being made. So if Happy Feet and Cars made your
day, let IndiaFM take you on a tour and show you exactly what is in store
and what people behind these films have to say.
One could say that the success of Sahara and Percept’s Hanuman
opened quite a many doors to the animated films industry in India.
Officially recorded as India's first indigenous animation film in the Limca
Book of Records, this 2-D film reaped good benefits for the producers
and director V.G. Samant who worked on it for a gruelling two years.
And after that film’s success, work on its sequel has already begun.
While the producers and director will be the same, Anurag Kashyap has
been roped in to write the dialogues for Hanuman 2.
“Hanuman opened up a whole market. That was a relief because
people realized that there is a market for animated films. Previously there
was uncertainty”, says director Govind Nihalani who is currently busy in
the pre-production of his own 3-D animated film Kamlu.
Kamlu recites the adventures of a baby camel called Kamlu, the people
and other animals he meets and the circumstances he goes through in his
journey. “People still believe that in India only mythology works and
maybe the established brands like action heroes. As far as original content
is concerned there is still a certain amount of apprehension”, adds the
cinematographer turned film-maker.
However Smita Maroo, Vice-President, Animation Division at
Shemaroo Entertainment begs to differ. “Mythology is just the genre out so
I don’t think it is a question of the safe way out. Story-telling is universal
whether you say it in the medium of a comic book, a movie or a
Ravi Chopra who had earlier announced an animated film Lord
Krishna but shelved it because another producer picked it up too is
currently working on an animated mythological. “This is my first animated
film so I’m taking the safe way out. I want to pick up the expertise in all
sectors before venturing out on original content. This film is going to be an
international project and has nothing to do with mythology”, says
Shemaroo too is coming up with their own 2-D film Ghatothkach
directed by Singeethan Srinivasa Rao of Pushpak fame. The film revolves
around Ghatotkach; a character from the Mahabharat and son of Bheem
and Hidimba. It’s the story of his escapades and what he did. “Ghatotkach
is not really known to the younger generation. The whole story is full of
action, comedy, romance and fantasy and so it looks like a complete
Bollywood masala film”, adds Smita.
Speaking of Mythology and branded heroes producer Firoz
Nadiadwala is planning both. Firstly there is Mahabharat and Ramayana.
“These two films will be dubbed in all major foreign languages and released
internationally. Also, in India, these films will be dubbed in the regional
languages and the voices to the characters will be given by the famous film
stars of that particular region,” says the producer. Apart from that he is
also planning the animated versions of his hit films Hera Pheri and its
sequel Phir Hera Pheri.
Soumitra Ranade who earlier directed the fairy tale film Jajantaram
Mamantaram is planning a semi-animated film Friends Forever. Thought
the film is not completely animated, it consists of a character Zampano
which is completely digitally created. Zampano is the childhood toy turned
friend of the film's heroine and helps her get her love. “An animation film
has different kinds of requirements. Our traditional way of story telling is
more verbal and is based on dialogues. Our animated films will initially be
more verbose but after about ten films we will realize that we don’t have to
speak so many words in an animated film. One beautiful scene will convey
the message in itself. So we need, not only those kinds of writers but also
that kind of thinkers”, explains Ranade. Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions
also has already begun work on their animated film and Suresh Nair who is
scripting the film says, “The writing style is similar. If you read a live action
script and an animated film script, they both read the same. But if there is
any kind of specialization for this writing then it is most welcome.”
Manmohan Shetty’s Adlabs had recently announced its first foray into
animation films in collaboration with south super star Rajnikanth's Ochre
Studios. The animated film which will be based on Rajnikanth and feature
all his signature style, dialogues and mannerisms. “The movie will be a
combination of 2D and 3D animation and will be budgeted at around Rs 10
Crore", says Manmohan Shetty.
That seems to be the general budget for animated films as Govind
Nihalani and Ravi Chopra’s film too are budgeted at approximately the
same amount. That goes on to prove that making animation film is not a
child’s play and requires big bucks.
Adlabs along with kid’s apparel giant Gini & Jony are also producing
an animated feature film based on the characters Gini and Jony, mascots of
Apart from them other giants are also venturing out into this type of
film-making. Though not formally announced Yash Raj Productions plans
to make an animated film which will be directed by Jugal Hansraj.
What the future has in store
The Indian animation industry seems to be headed only in the right
direction. It is common knowledge that many countries are outsourcing
their animation work to India mainly because of cheaper labour. Half an
hour of animated work in India costs about US$ 60,000 while in the United
States and Canada the same work costs approximately US$ 4,00,000.
India's animation industry is expected to reach revenues of US$950
million by 2009, up from US$285 million in 2005, according to trade
“The future has to be great. Whatever happens in the west for cinema,
it happens to us in a decade or so. In fact, even a bit more. So historically,
it has to happen that Indians will make more animated films in the coming
days”, says Soumitra Ranade.
Practically everybody have the same opinion with Soumitra. “We have
a huge treasure of stories to us which have not been taken out to the world.
So with this I think we should be able to mark a mark in the global
scenario”, agrees Smita Maroo.
Music majors T-Series have also entered the race in a big way by
targeting the kids segment through their direct-to-DVD films on Shri
Ganesh, Akbar Birbal and Shri Krishna Leela. The VCDs of these are
readily available in the market
“This is a nascent market. The audience is already there and waiting
for us to explore in terms of marketing. It’s a question of how we take the
product to them”, says Govind Nihalani.
Ravi Chopra concludes, “It’s like any other movement. It starts slowly
but once it begins there’s nothing stopping it”