November 17, 2013 posted by

Indian Animation Update

I am doing another column on Indian animation much sooner than I expected. It has been a busier time than usual for animation, according to Animation Xpress, the Indian industry online newsletter from which these press releases are taken. These stories are from September issues alone.

September 2. Virtual Thought, a 2’24” CGI student film, wins an award. “Rahul Punyani, a Delhi based Arena Animation academy, Rajouri Garden student’s short ‘Virtual Thought’ was screened at ‘ANIFEST INDIA 2013’ and was awarded the ‘Student Category Award’. […] What challenges did you face in the making of the short?
The shot in which several particles had to form into a car within few seconds was tricky. It took me around 15 days thinking about how to make this possible. The rendering software crashed while editing this shot. And as I didn’t want to compromise with the quality of this movie, I ended up using Cinema 4D software for the same.I used three software for this movie, namely 3 D Max Software was used for Modeling the characters, After Effects for the composition and Cinema 4D software for the sequence.”

September 4. Toah’s Ark, not a student film, wins another award. “Bangalore based Morph Digital Studio’s animation short ‘Toah’s Ark’ has won the Planet Water Video Contest. The movie has won in the Animation Category. This competition was organised by Barcelona 2013 15th FINA World Championship with the collaboration and technical support of the Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport Joan Antoni Samaranch / BCN Sports Film Festival. interacted with Anirudh Goutham, Director of Morph Digital Studio to know about the making ‘Toah’s Ark’:

How would you describe the look and feel of this short?
 The film has been created using cel animation and flash. We have used 2 different looks where the parts depicting Toah’s home have been kept clean, simple, shades of blue and the other side of the story has been depicted using darker colors, more details, grunge and subtle animation not to distract the visuals. Blue and Green were used for the clean parts whereas Blacks, Grey and Brown for the polluting arts of the film.”

shri-hanuman-posterSeptember 6. The first theatrical trailer for Shri Hanuman Chalisa is released. “Animated mythological poetry is on its way as Delhi based Charuvi Design Labs, founded and spearheaded by Animation Film Maker Charuvi Agrawal, has recently rolled out the first trailer of their debut animated short based on the verses of ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. Titled ‘Shri Hanuman Chalisa’, this 12 minutes 20 seconds 3D animated poetry is adapted from ‘The Hanuman Chalisa’ written by Indian poet Tulsidas and promises to spread a divine visual poetic experience. The teaser of this short was first screened in 2011 at SIGGRAPH film festival and since then has been doing its rounds in the international film festivals. The film had its world premiere at Palm Springs International Short Fest and Film Market – California (USA) an Oscar qualifying festival, and there after followed by 67th Edinburgh International Film festival (UK), Dimension 3 Film Festival (France), Toronto Animation Art Festival International (Canada), Anima Mundi (Brazil) an Oscar qualifying festival, Flickers RHODE ISLAND International Film festival (USA) an Oscar qualifying festival, Montreal World Film Festival (Canada) an Oscar qualifying festival, Stuttgart International Festival of Animation Film (Germany) and will screen in October at Indian Film Festival Of Houston (USA) and the main launch will be in November.”

Whew! Checking around, there have been multiple live-action productions of Shri Hanuman Chalisa over the years. Hanuman is the Hindu monkey god, or monkey-headed and –tailed human god. He is often shown fighting inhuman demons, as he is in this trailer. The Indian poet Tulsidas lived from 1497 or 1532 to 1623. Most sources recognize the 1497 date as correct, although this would have made him 126 years old when he died. Hindus argue that this is perfectly likely since Tulsidas praised Hanuman throughout his life, and Hanuman probably extended his life span. This new teaser trailer is very impressive and the 3D effect without glasses is surprisingly successful.

September 16. The “Amul Girl” is apparently one of India’s best-known TV advertising mascots, similar to Tony the Tiger or the Trix Rabbit in America. Toonz Animation gives the “Amul Girl” mascot a 3D makeover in TV commercials. “Trivandrum based Toonz Animation has created the 3D avatar of the iconic utterly butterly delicious ‘Amul Girl’. Conceived in 1967, this young, chubby Indian girl dressed in a polka dotted frock with blue hair and a half pony, has been the face of Indian dairy brand Amul since. And now, after more than 4 decades of fascinating us in her hand drawn form, the ‘Amul Girl’ has adorned a 3D avatar in Amul’s latest TVC. Released by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, the TVC is created by Kailash Pictures whereas the 3D animation, motion graphics and compositing have been delivered by Toonz Animation. The live action cum animation TVC is currently airing on leading television channels.” I have recently seen Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and I can’t watch this without thinking of a deep male voice saying, “Butter!”

September 25. Krishna aur Kans (Krishna versus Kans, Krishna’s evil uncle), Reliance Animation’s CGI theatrical feature that was released across India in several languages in August 2012, has come to Indian TV. “‘& Pictures’ the newly launched movie channel of Zee Entertainment is all set to telecast India’s finest animated feature film ‘Krishna aur Kans’ on Sat, 28th Sept’ at 9:00 P.M. and repeat telecast on Sun, 29th Sept’ at 12:38 PM. The film is directed by Vikram Veturi and has a stellar voice cast who are among the finest actors of our time, Om Puri plays the role of Kans and Juhi Chawla features as Mother Yashoda while Prachi Save plays Krishna. The film also features Manoj Bajpai, Anupam Kher, A.K. Hangal, Sachin & Supriya Pilgaokar and Mukesh Khanna in various prominent characters.”

Krishna aur Kans was covered in my “Recent Indian Animation” column in May, with its theatrical trailer. Here are its TV broadcast posters. This is one that deserves to be called “India’s finest animated feature film”, even if it is a Hindu religious film about the first ten years of Krishna’s life that will be meaningless to most Americans. It was shown in America for one week last year in one theater in Norwalk, CA under the title Hey Krishna to qualify for the Oscars.


September 26. Mahavir – The Protector; the Hindu gods as American-style costumed superheroes. “Kolkata based Virtualinfocom is currently working on their first IP, a 2D animation movie – ‘Mahavir- the Protector.’ This 90 minute movie will be targeted at a wider range of audience between the age group from 5 to 25 years old. The studio started working on several aspects of this movie in 2011. Currently in production, the feature is tentatively slated for mid 2014.


Kalki (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Gadura- Kalki’s godfather are the main characters of the movie. The other secondary characters are Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesh, Kartik, Yamraj, Gadura, Blood Seed (Rakta Beej), Nova, Taraka, Rakhshashi, Kumbhakarna, Indra, Maya, Kali and Klesh.

The movie follows the story of the super power called Kalki, born in 2124 to destroy the evil spirits in and around the earth using his ultimate powers. As per the story line, before Kalki’s birth, seven devotional Sadhus did a ‘Maha- Nirvana’ Yagya. These sadhus had super powers and had to devote their power to call their protector, but one of them denied to do so and left the Yagna area, so the power was born but it had no body. The power is in the form of a spirit who can’t take part in any mortal world, who is seeking for a pure body.

There are interesting twists and turns as this mythological story proceeds further. It will make the audience imagine of the test tube future generation and think why it’s necessary to have a chaos and make a balance out of it.
The representation of specific characters for this movie was designed only after referring to several Indian Gods like Vishnu, Shiv, Ganesh and Brahma from several mythological books.”

And after referring to several American superhero comic books, by the look of the character design. I can recognize the elephant-headed Ganesh, and I assume the sinister-looking black-clad warrior is Shiv. I would guess Kali, the goddess of death, but she’s female. The third paragraph above, about the ‘Maha-Nirvana’ Yagya, exceeds my knowledge of the Hindu religion. Mahavir – The Protector may be a hit with Indian audiences, but I cannot begin to guess how it will play to Americans. Considering the box-office popularity of the current live-action Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Avengers movies, it could be very successful if the American editing & dub (no language is mentioned, but I assume that this will be in Hindi) can take out the Hindu religious aspects, the way that the American 1961 version of Alakazam the Great changed Chinese mythological names to “Hercules” and “Merlin the magician”. And assuming that the animation is up to American standards.


  • The trailer shown for “Shri Hanuman Chalusa” is not the one from Animation Xpress. Charuvi Design Labs sent this second trailer and said to please use it instead of the first trailer, which is what Animation Xpress showed. Okay, if that is what they want, but I think that the first trailer is more impressive. There is NO animation, but look at the 3-D effect!

    • I saw an animated release of the Hahnemann monkey god movie in the early 60s when I was a child it was so impressive. Does anyone out there know what that was? I haven’t been able to find it.

  • what type of butter is “amul girl” advertising? aren’t cows sacred in india? is the butter made from goats’ milk?

    • Cows are sacred, but apparently there is nothing wrong with milking them. Wikipedia says that the Amul Cooperative is the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world, including milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, chocolate milk, etc. It is starting a dairy in upstate New York to compete in the American dairy market. Wikipedia says that Amul makes skim milk powder from buffalo milk but does not say otherwise what kind of milk Amul’s products are made from. However, I doubt that Amul could produce this volume of milk from goat milk or anything but dairy cattle.

    • Strangely upon seeing a screengrab from that commercial, I thought the Amul Girl looked very closely similar to the girl on a familiar potato chip bag!

      Nice to hear Amul is branching to our fine shores, I wish them luck (wonder if I’ll see any of their products someday).

    • “Animation Xpress” says that the Amul Girl mascot was designed in 1967. “Film, Arts, etc.” blog by “hisaek” said in December 2010 that Utz Quality Foods started in 1921 as Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips. “At that time, the logo of the ‘Hanover Home Brand’ potato chips was a girl with a flapper hairstyle and a big red ribbon. One of her hands reaches into a bag of potato chips. The company steadily grew, and in 1947, the business was incorporated. The logo at the time was the same as the one in 1921. […] I saw a picture of the Utz’s factory in 1975, but I am not sure if the logo is still the original one or it had already changed to the new Utz girl. By 1987, the logo definitely became the current Utz girl. The girl became round, much simplified, and much younger (around 10 years old while the original one looks like mid-late teens). Also, she looks at you with big round eyes, while the original one looks down with modesty. She continues to reach into a potato chip bag.” There have been many other mascot-logos over the years of cute cartoon little girls enjoying the manufacturer’s food. So it cannot be determined from this which came first, the 1967 Amul Girl or the Utz Girl between 1947 and 1987.

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