With talented script writers and keener audiences, Indian animated films can be more than just a flash in the pan.

In 2011 Indian cinemas will play host to a number of animated films, including Rango, Rio, and Japanese manga offering Sinchan, Bungle in the Jungle. And, for another year, Indian animated films will remain conspicuous for their absence. In the context of India’s highly-developed capabilities for animation production, this appears strange. After all, Indian animation played its hand in global film franchises such as Star Wars and The Mummy. However the domestic market is proving a tough nut to crack.

According to Ram Mirchandani, CCO of entertainment giant Eros, compared to the West the Indian audience is not yet suited to animated films. “The impression of animated films is that it’s for just for children and this alienates a huge movie-going audience.”

Director of 2008 animated offering, Roadside Romeo, Jugal Hansraj believes animation has a niche audience. “You can’t compare animation to a Bollywood film, it appeals to pockets of people.” This is illustrated in the box office performance of Roadside Romeo. At the time, according to Hansraj the film had grossed the most of any animation film in India, but this equated to a modest $55, 000.

Rajnish Arora, CCO of animation studio Source Animation, proposed Indian films are hampered by their plots. “We don’t have experienced animation writers and there is a lack of strong scripts” he suggested. Mirchandani supplemented this, “Animation films need interesting and smart scripts that involves audiences across age boundaries so children can bring their parents too.”

Director Anil Goyal is hoping his film Crackers will dispel perceptions of animation being just for children. Crackers, India’s first 3D stereoscopic film, is based on the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and features an animated take on Katrina Kaif. “Katrina is a well-loved actress and she looks equally pretty in animation” Goyal added.

Arora credited India’s current strength in production of animation. “We have fantastic production abilities to execute someone else’s ideas” he declared. India’s foreign appeal is also entwined in economics. The 12-16 hour work day of Indian animators equates to a faster turnaround for jobs and the rupee’s favorable exchange rate makes jobs comparatively cheaper. Goyal estimated 60% of Indian animators work for foreign companies.

In an interview with IANS, Ranvir Shorey, who has lent his voice in upcoming animation flick Rio, bemoaned the lack of budgets. “We need somebody with the right script and the producers who have faith to mount that kind of production because we definitely have the talent in India. We need more entrepreneurship from the production sector.”

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