Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lord Hanuman to the Rescue

India's Fledgling Animation Industry

My brother brought Hanuman - The Mighty Warrior, a 2 part Video CD animation film while returning from his outstation trip. Claimed to be the first 2D animation movie, completely made in India, by an Indian and based on an Indian epic character, the movie bowled us all over. It has even been recorded officially as India's first indigenous animation film in the Limca Book of Records. The media is all awash with promotion clips and stills of the movie, showing Hanuman, the monkey God epic character, depicted in the movie as a fun loving, adventure seeking character. Chiefly aimed at the child audience and priced at a very reasonable Rs 169 ( approx. USD 3.7 ), the movie I think has done ample justice to both the theme and the quality of animation in the film without sacrificing on the story line front and ensuring that the young audience's attention stays glued throughout the entire movie span.

Animation was totally an unheard of industry in India till 90s. However today India is pitching itself as a key player in this multi million dollar industry. I was intrigued. Why is all the hype with the animation industry now and not earlier?

One thing is evident. The Indian audience's mood for animation movies was largely un-gauged. Under the shadow of Bollywood ( India's movie industry ) looming large, it was considered too risky a proposition by producers to invest money in animation movies. To add to the fear factor, was the failure of two movies. One, 'Bhaggmati - The Queen of Fortunes' which was two and a half hour movie with 60 minutes of animation and including live star casts of the likes of Hema Malini, Milind Soman and Tabu. It flopped badly. The other was 'Legend of Buddha', a very low budget animation movie released only in select metros. It was not received very well either.

However things seem to be turning much better than being hunky dory for this information technology driven film industry. Major studios are being opened up in India dedicated to pure animation. ZICA, (Zee Institute of Creative Arts) in Mumbai, PentaFour Graphics in Chennai, Ittina Animation in Bangalore to name a few. Even big time producers who have the money power like Sahara Productions and Percept are stepping in. 'Takshaa', a training institute in animation is being setup at Bangalore headed by Bill Miller of the ‘Shrek 4D’, ‘Shrek 2’ and ‘Madagascar’ fame.

Add to all this the outsourcing of animation movie making from the US film makers to India that is gaining speed. PentaFour Graphics produced the highly acclaimed movies like 'Sindbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists', 'Son of Alladin' and 'Alibaba'. A friend of mine who is trying to etch out a career in this blooming industry pointed out that producing a 15 minute animation clip in the US costs anywhere between $ 20,000 to $50,000 while the same can be produced in the Indian studios for a mere $3800 or less.

Hope to see the Indian animation industry turn into another leaf of success in India's Information Technology forte. Hanuman might just provide the industry with the giant leap required to forge ahead.

Useful Links

Two Animation movies - A Preview

Chat with Bill Miller of ‘Shrek 4D’, ‘Shrek 2’ and ‘Madagascar’ fame

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