Ho hum. Remember my report of the Indian CGI feature Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, about a romance between three anthropomorphized dogs (actually a funny-animal remake of the 1998 Indian live-action musical Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), that was completed about three years ago but whose release kept getting delayed (from 2011 to 2012) and was most recently scheduled for July 2013? Surprise! It didn’t come out then, either. Now its release is scheduled for sometime in 2015. Here is its trailer again, which does make it look worth watching – if it’s ever released. (Meanwhile, its animation producer, Prana Studios in Mumbai, is not sitting around. Prana is producing the Tinker Bell and Planes movies under subcontract for DisneyToon Studios.)
I continue to get publicity in English for new Indian animation – usually in Hindi, though occasionally in Malayalam, Telugu, or another of India’s 22 official languages. Or in pantomime, so it can be shown across India without redubbing. Here are some animation shorts, trailers, and promos that I’ve gotten information on since my column on “Recent Indian Animation” (on May 12). These are from India’s Animation Xpress, which is still always jampacked with “We’re hiring!” advertisements for Indian animation studios. Does anyone want to move there?
May 9. Spell Bound is “An Animated Short Film revolving around the Story of a Magician, created as a student project by Reliance AIMS, [that] captures the attention at the FTII National Student’s Film Festival and receives awards for Best film and Best Direction category. This Film Festival was organized by FTII in association with Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) of Kolkata.” Pixar did it better with its 2008 Presto, and there is also the later (July 2013) Bye Bye Bunny from six SUPINFOCOM students; but Spell Bound has some surprises of its own. Note that where the American and French magicians have rabbits, the Indian magician logically enough has a monkey.
Reliance AIMS is the Reliance Animation Infotainment & Media School. Reliance Animation is the studio that produced the impressive Krishna aur Kans a.k.a. the Hey, Krishna CGI feature last year.
July 3. Terror of Horror title sequence/promo. “A 25 second animation short, ‘Terror of Horror’, created in a span of 5 days time by Vaibhav More Films for Sonic Nickelodeon of Viacom 18 has clinched this year’s PromaxBDA India Gold Award in the category of Best Programme Title Sequence. Terror of Horror is an animated series featuring horror cartoons, which currently airs on Sonic Nickelodeon. Vaibhav More films was approached last year by Sonic Nickelodeon producer Girish Joshi for creating this promo.”
YouTube also had this very pretty promo for Vaibhav More Films’ work.
July 9. Kachho Gadulo is a 6’12” CGI short that is nominated for the Bang Awards. “A trio making an animation short film as a student project! Winning 10 Awards and now nominated for the 11th one! So, what’s the wow factor that fills this team with so many awards? Hues and shades of Indian culture blended with an animation mix can be one of the description for ‘Kachho Gadulo’, the movie that was lauded at coveted animation fests for bringing out the story of the vibrant and diverse culture of India. Been on a winning spree since last year by nabbing a total of 10 awards and now in nomination for its 11th one at Bang Awards – Open Category, the movie for sure has raised the bar of Indian Animation.” YouTube gives the three students’ names: “Shivangi Ranawat, Pranay Patwardhan, Saptesh Chaubal. (India) Kachho Gadulo is a story about the vibrant and diverse culture of India, as seen through a young child’s free and beautiful imagination.”
Here is the website of the 2nd Bang Awards, December 3, 2012 to December 31, 2013; winners announced during March 2014. Kachho Gadulo is at 04. WARNING: All 202 entries have weblinks, and you can spend HOURS looking at all of them.
July 17. Sons of Ram is a Hindu religious animated theatrical feature; pretty much the same story as in Landmark Toonz’s Luv Kush – The Sons of Rama that I mentioned in my previous column, but with MUCH better animation. “Amar Chitra Katha has been India’s favorite storyteller for more than 45 years and now, its animation division ACK Animation Studios continues to bring this rich legacy to the world of film and TV. SONS OF RAM, their first theatrical feature film (produced in collaboration with Cartoon Network India), continues its international festival rollout at TAAFI 2013, after the successful domestic release across India last November. TAAFI, Toronto’s first and foremost International Animation festival, celebrates the many forms of animation from around the world, supporting and nurturing the community that creates this art form. SONS OF RAM will be screened in the presence of its creators on Sunday, 28(th) July, 2013 at 12:30 noon at the prestigious TIFF Bell Lightbox.”
Hmmm. I’ve heard of TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, but TAAFI? Yep, it has a website: the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International. It was on July 26-28 this year, and Sons of Ram played there. Apparently Jerry Beck was there, too. Sons Of Ram (written and directed by Kushal Ruia), tells the story of twins Luv and Kush and their journey to their roots, with the great Indian epic RAMAYANA as its backdrop. Complete with a cast of lovable and relatable characters, the film is an epic coming-of-age adventure told with global sensibilities and beautiful art. Both children and adults will love this story for its balance of entertainment with meaningful and relevant themes. The film received unanimous praise from critics and industry professionals in India, who called it ‘the best Indian animated film so far’ (Vaibhav Kumaresh, Celebrated Indian Animator), ‘Ruia’s storytelling wins you over’ (The Times of India), ‘amazing clarity and breathtaking freshness’ (MoviezAdda.com).”
Hmmm again. It’s certainly good, and I can’t get the catchy “Going to Ayodhya” song out of my head; but “the best Indian animated film so far”!? If it’s based on a Sons of Rama comic book, why is it only Sons of Ram? And does this second movie clip for it EVER END? (The rollicking “Going to Ayodhya” is at 8’19” and lasts for 3’32”.)
July 19. CGI is used to make funny cement TV commercials. “Be it thriller or humor, Wilson Louis always unfolds an enthralling story with every feature film or television commercial. And now he presents fun for the auds with mix of CGI and Live Action Bangur Cement Truck and Elephant Commercials.” Okay; I’ll watch a commercial if it’s funny.
August 2. Mahatmaan is a forthcoming direct-to-video animated feature about an Indian superhero being developed by VedAtma Animation Studios. “Coming to ‘Mahatmaan – The Supreme Being’, is a 90 minute full length feature and will be released as DVD revolving around the journey of protagonist Jaitra, who is a common man, but without his knowledge and control, he transforms into Mahatmaan, the superhero to fight against the evil forces led by ruler, Ravula.” They are calling it in English: Mahatmaan – The Supreme Being. Better not call your superhero “The Supreme Being” if you have any hope of releasing it in Christian countries.
August 16. Alchemy is a 4’36” music video by the creators of Kachho Gadulo showcasing modern India’s ethnic identity. “India’s Independence has been innovatively presented in an animated form by, ‘Ekabhuya’, makers of animation short ‘Kaccho Gadulo’, who yesterday have launched animated music video ‘Alchemy’ on YouTube as well as TV channel, Vh1 India. Blended with Live Action, 2D and Rotoscopic Animation, this 5 minute animated video created on music track ‘Alchemy’ by Bandish Projekt, circles around assorted stories of Indian people, their hopes, aspirations and transformation.”
August 19. Komal is a new 10-minute animated cartoon warning young children to be alert for child abuse. “After grabbing the ASSOCHAM INFOCOM EME AWARD this year in the Best Public Service Film Category for animation short ‘Like Sisters’, Mumbai based Climb Media has now released a 10 minute animated social short ‘Komal’. Created for Childline India Foundation, this movie instills and boosts confidence in children by sending across a message that they can save themselves from being a victim of sexual abuse.”
August 28. And finally, for now: It’s not from Animation Xpress, but BBC News reports that Islamic religious leaders at a Muslim seminary in Deoband have proclaimed that watching any animated cartoons is against the Islamic faith and must be stopped. The BBC report is illustrated with a Hanna-Barbera still of Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Wilma, and Betty. “Religious leaders at the Darul Uloom seminary, in Deoband, declared that viewing animations – even those featuring comedy characters – was against the tenets of Islam, reports the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald. It quotes senior cleric Mufti Arif Quasmi as saying: ‘[A] cartoon is a picture. Besides, it is not for the children. It should not be watched.’ There are many interpretations of Islamic teachings on the depiction of animate objects, with the most strict banning it completely on the basis that it imitates Allah’s acts of creation. Other scholars, however, permit photography and video.’ The proclamation, or fatwa, has been criticized by other Muslims. ‘The Darul Uloom ruling was criticised by one member of the All India Personal Law Board for ‘making a mockery’ of Islam. ‘I don’t think the muftis who issued the fatwa have any knowledge of the subject or have applied their mind to understanding the art of cartoons at all,’ the senior Imam told Mumbai-based broadsheet DNA. It’s not the first ruling by the seminary to cause controversy. In the past, it’s reportedly declared it unlawful for women to use perfume containing alcohol, or to wear tattoos, jeans or ‘Western hairstyles’.”
That’s what’s new in animation in India from May through August. There seems to be enough news for a column every quarter or so, so look for more Indian animation news around the end of this year.