I often wonder why is there such a dry spell of good quality content in animation at home when there’s a great deal of Oscar-winning talent in our country.
Here are some facts. Much of the exhaustively detailed animation for the live-action film The Jungle Book was accomplished by the lesser known heroes of the Moving Pictures Company’s Bengaluru office. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 2016.
Similarly, a great quantity of the advanced computer graphics technology utilized to create animated scenes in the blockbuster Life of Pi were perfected in the Mumbai and Hyderabad studios of the Los Angeles-based SFX giant Rhythm & Hues. The impeccable animation executed by Indian animators won Life of Pi an Oscar for the Best Visual Effects in 2013.
Shrek, How to Train your Dragon, Skyfall…the list of animated movies that have outsourced a colossal amount of work to Indian animation and SFX studios is long and only, growing exceptionally. Yet, if one looks for sensational, award-worthy original SFX or animation cinema from Indian production houses that are commercial hits, one will find that we fall short. The closest we get to is the 2017 smash hit Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, and it reportedly took 33 animation studios working on VFX post-production, with graphics and animation that took almost a year and a half to create and perfect. However, the coming years will see the Indian animation industry touch new heights.
How to Train your dragon
Indian Animation Industry: The Story So Far
Since its inception in 1957, the Indian Animation Industry first rose to prominence with the production ‘The Banyan Deer’. This movie was the brainchild of a group of Indian animators who had earlier worked under the guidance of Disney Animator, Clair Weeks, to produce ‘Bambi’ and were on an exclusive mission to establish and perfect India’s first multimedia and animation studio. Out of this group, 2 men went on to become animation pioneers in India.
Ram Mohan and Bhimsain Khurana are two legends who, together, revamped the entire Indian multimedia and animation industry.
Most animated movies and short stories in the 1980s were solely dedicated to educating the younger generation. Animated characters alongside actors, were perhaps first seen in the 1989 tamil production ‘Raja Chinna Roja’. The director, S.P. Muthuraman, changed the world of Indian multimedia and animation by simply wishing to take animation to the next level.
According to FICCI KPMG Report 2017, the Indian multimedia and animation industry is expected to reach 23 billion mark in 2020. The three key factors that helped push animation in India to grow were, namely: a relatively low cost of production, extremely skilled and professional human resource and the state’s introduction of policies promoting animation, visual effects, gaming and comics.
Recently, Tech-savvy Karnataka was the first state of the country to unveil a special policy on animation to attract investments and generate employment for hundreds of educated youth in the sunrise sector.
The evolution of multimedia and animation in India has definitely come a long way since the beginning and now, more than ever, with the easy availability of professional education offered by animation and multimedia institutes in the form of specially designed animation courses. Today, the field of animation has found an expression in an assortment of fields like e-education, web designing, architecture visualization, animated movies, cartoons, computer games, and VFX. Students with a creative bent of mind and inclination towards animation can enroll in multimedia and animation courses to learn and master the intricacies of graphic design and animation.
While International animation studios created massive universes of animated characters and thrilling plots, we primarily focused on mythological concepts such as a Krishna or Hanuman, as investors had more confidence in the tried and tested. But now, we have stopped considering animated feature films as just cartoons. A good animation movie, with a stellar marketing and distribution circuit, can take on any grand Bollywood movie. According to the Box Office collection, Delhi Safari, the 2012 super-hit animated feature film, minted six times the money it made at home in South Korea alone, making it one of the highest-grossing Indian films in China, besides Dangal and PK. In 2014, the acclaimed Prime Focus World merged its global VFX business with Double Negative, an Academy Award winning VFX company with multiple facilities spread across India, successfully featuring it’s work in blockbusters like Transformers: Age of Extinction The Great Gatsby, Final Destination and many more.
Indian animation and VFX Industry is getting bigger and better. The basic difference between us and the studios in West is that they are fine-tuned to think out of the box. We need to encourage creativity and offbeat formats and not always resort to following a tried and tested formula. One of us shall rewrite history with another Baahubali. All one needs to do is unlock the passion within oneself.