Animation films flourishing in India ...

By Praveen Lance Fernandes (IndiaFM News Bureau)

image“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

the label.

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”