Bollywood’s Cartoon Network – Times of India
Producer Vinay Sinha has handed over the rights of his Andaz Apna Apna (1994) starring Aamir Khan and Salman Khan to an American firm which has expressed a desire to animate the Bollywood laugh riot. Pritish Nandy Communications has signed a five-film deal with Motion Pixel Corporation (MPC), a Panama-based media firm — the deal includes five, 3-D animated, full-length Bollywood feature films with Indian and international actors, songs, dances, item numbers and everything that Bollywood is famous for. Ek Khilaadi Ek Hasina, Kaante, Chameli and Pyar Ke Side Effects will be re-made into animated features – in fact, work has already begun on Ek Khilaadi and the animated version of this film is likely to be out in 15 months.
Other big Bollywood names, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra, are also said to be keenly studying this trend. Karan will reportedly have an animated version of his 1998 blockbuster Kuch Kuch Hota Hai while Yashraj Films are likely to animate a couple of their super-hits (perhaps Hum Tum and Dhoom).
Vinay Sinha who spearheaded this trend says, “It has been a while since I tied up with the American firm for animating Andaz Apna Apna. I can’t say much about it because the whole animation process is taking so much time. If they don’t come up with something fast, then they may re-negotiate. I have specified a time limit.”
While Sinha is cautiously hopeful that the animation experiment will work because it will mean one more revenue stream for Bollywood, Pritish Nandy is very optimistic about his own deal. “Firstly, animation as a form, takes creativity and imagination to the next level,” he says. “Besides, as a genre it has tremendous prospects in an entertainment-hungry market like India. The scope is not limited to kids alone. There are an equal number of adult patrons for this genre.”
Trade analyst Amod Mehra, however, is not in tandem here. “Hanuman worked, that too because of children whose parents wanted them to have a lesson in mythology,” he says. “Frankly, right now it is impossible to gauge whether animation as a genre has a draw beyond this in Bollywood.”
Mehra feels that Hollywood struck pay dirt with movies like Shrek, Finding Nemo and Meet the Robinsons because they came up with some truly loveable animated characters. “Besides, the prohibitive cost of making an animated film is something only the deepest of pockets can afford,” he says. “Happy Feet cost approximately US $1 million per minute! This genre isn’t for the faint-hearted.”
Film-maker Rahul Rawail also has reservations about animation at this point. “Someone has to test the waters,” he agrees. “But I’m rather sceptical about making existing features into an animated series. Something like Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish will work because the film was such a big draw with kids. Superheroes work best as animated characters.”
Why is Bollywood getting into animation, asks a market source? “It could be the hot new revenue source. But, since the development of animation content is time-and-money consuming (it can sometimes take two to three years to come up with an animated feature film), film-makers are probably tempted to convert existing content into animation stories. This helps because a basic storyboard is already there for reference.”
A senior executive from MPC, the firm that has tied up with PNC, says, “The animation market is a new extension. And it could see Bollywood’s turnover multiply many times over simply by creating international language versions of what are essentially successful Bollywood movies.”
While it is premature to predict the fate of Bollywood’s newest foray into animating its own feature films because, “everything will depend on the fate of the first of this lot at the box-office,” the avant-garde lot of film-makers is definitely going ahead with their plans. A trade source says, “Bollywood is definitely pushing the envelope. Since they can only see megabucks on the horizon, they’re going to give this animation genre their best shot.”
“Yes,” says Sinha. “You can’t blame us for not doing something new. If we succeed then the sky is definitely the limit.”