Quick question, tell me which Disney or Pixar animation film is your favourite? Chances are if you are a movie buff like me you will have about half a dozen names to rattle off. Personally, I have repeated so many times before that some of the animation movies like Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Finding Nemo’ are not just classics they had great real-life lessons for us like on parenting. ‘A ‘Bug’s Life’ is another such classic on why we should never give up hope in life. In the short animation genre, Hollywood has a rich number to boast.
Indian animation just lags way behind!
Compare that with what Bollywood has done so far and it is a one word summing up. Zilch. In 2005, out of nowhere, a movie called ‘Hanuman’ was released by Percept. Surprising everyone that movie ended up collecting more than 8 crores at the box office. The merchandise of that film is still sold online. Such was the impact of a story that many of us have already heard before.
‘Hanuman’s sequel sank without a trace and probably those in Bollywood who wanted to cash on a trend got discouraged too. However, the biggest surprise came in 2012 when Green Gold Animation released a movie called 'Chhota Bheem And The Curse Of Damyaan'.
Now, technically Green Gold is based out of Hyderabad so again you could not call that movie a traditional Bollywood offer but here is the most startling fact of that movie. It not only was a successful venture for its makers. It made more money on the box office than the hyped ‘Department’ directed by RGV, which was released simultaneously and had heavy-duty actors like Sanjay Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan in it.
Bollywood has still remained uninterested. By the time you read these lines another of a Green Gold venture ‘Hanuman Vs Mahiravana’ would have hit the screens. The presentation of the movie and its trailer looked good enough on the screen and I would want this one to hit the bulls-eye at the box office because we will then have at least three names to quote in Indian animation genre.
This has always been intriguing as to why our regular makers have never given animation any respect because if you look at it the Indian audience is more than ready for animation since years. The biggest example from recent years is the Rajamouli’s money spinner called ‘Makhkhi’ (‘Eega’ in Telugu), the movie drove itself on an animated character. The audience showered their attention and money on the movie and it was a big reminder that audiences want entertainment whether it came from a big established star or a housefly it does not matter.
Yet, Bollywood remains stubbornly wedded to overrated superstars who need the crutches of large screen numbers and long weekend releases to justify their never justifiable fat fees and the fact that most of the time below average content is being pushed down our brain. The biggest reason that Bollywood is yet to attempt animation genre seriously has its root in the same problem, which manifests everywhere when we look at Bollywood.
Bollywood does not respect technicians and content creators. It just does not want to look beyond superstars and actresses. Content is the key and yet you hardly have production houses which drive movie projects from content to upwards. Even our best-hailed directors are camp boys, they already decide which star they will work with for the next five odd years and then content, etc is searched for from that point onwards.
In a system, which feels remixed songs are a safer bet to create crowds for a movie what chance does a story have, which will drive itself totally on animation? Little do these directors realise that animation gives them so much freedom. Not just in terms of what can be attempted in animation – for starters you don’t have to create real-life sets, etc – but also that animation can offer you so much creative freedom.
An animation character will never insist that the camera focuses on him or her for 70 per cent of the movie.
The fact of the matter is here is an industry, which cannot look beyond ‘Race 3’ and ‘Dhoom 4’ so who are we trying to make sense with?