Future of animation films in Bollywood

What’s the future of animated feature films? How did computer animation impact on the cartoon movies genre? How are Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and their competitors affecting the animated movies industry?David Mitchell gives a detailed investigation on a possible future scenario for 3d cartoons:Starting with Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995, computer-based 3D animation has met with both critical and commercial success. This research project examines the current and likely future impact of this success on feature film animation, particularly on the more traditional, well-established techniques such as stop-motion 3D animation and 2D cel-based animation.Read the research report: The Future of the Cartoon Feature Film for the MA in History of Film and Visual Media, David Mitchell, Summer 2002.

“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.

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 play”.

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 Chopra.

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 studies.

“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”.
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