Television viewers in the time of the grand-old Doordarshan when satellite and DTH were alien, would remember a small DAVP animation snippet which showcased the ill-effects of deforestation and how unity could solve the problem. Titled “Ek Anek Aur Ekta” with a very beautiful song starting with the words “Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiyan….” it became quite a hit due to its sheer naivety, innocence and simplicity. Released in the year 1974, it was one of the most remembered animation short film in India.
Animation came to India initially due to the initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Government of India. It was in the year 1956 that under the American Technical Co-Operation mission, the Government of India invited Clair Weeks of Disney Studios to help in the setting-up of India’s first animation studio. They also made India’s first animation film titled “The Banyan Deer” in the year 1957.
Things never looked back ever since though animation in the Indian context did not catch-up the way movies did. Short snippets like the one mentioned above were churned out intermittently though.
Economic liberalization seemed to have brought with it winds of change which mirrored the more mature markets in the west. Another noteworthy trend in the history of animation was that it started-off with television serials which 20-25 years back had limited budgets and were forced to use animation to cut cost and present the footage in a particular manner. Another interesting trend which enhanced the appeal of animation in India was (and still is) the use of history, mythology and folk-lore. Given India’s cultural depth, it was only a matter of time before subjects like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Lives of legends like Shivaji, Ranapratap etc would find its animated avatars whether in 2D or 3D.
The year 1986 saw Director Suddhasattwa Basu’s animated television serial “Ghayab Aaya”. The last two decades beginning with the year 1992 has seen a steady stream of animated serials like “The Ramayana- Legend of Prince Ram”. Mentioned below is an exhaustive list in chronological order of Indian Animation / Indian Animated Cartoons series which would surely give you an idea of its significance:
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
Pandavas – The Five Warriors (2000)
Bhagmati – The Queen of Fortune First Live Action Animated Feature Film (2005)
The legend of Lord Buddha (animated film) (2005)
Return of Hanuman (2007)
Dashavatar (2008 film) (2008)
Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang (2008)
Bal Ganesh (2007)
Lav Kush – The Warrior Twins (2010)
Toonpur Ka Superrhero (2010)
Ramayana: The Epic (2010)
Koochie Koochie Hota Hain (2011)
Alibaba Aur 41 Chor (2011)
Arjun – The Warrior Prince (2012)
Delhi Safari (2012)
My home is Green (2011)
Chintu Skool (2011)
Sons of Ram (2012)
Once Upon a Time (2013 film) (2013)
Mahabharat (2013 film) (2013)
Delhi Safari (2012)
Bal Ganesh 2 (2009)
Chhota Bheem and the Curse of Damyaan (2012)
Chhota Bheem and the Throne of Bali (2013)
Super K – The Movie (2011)
Lava Kusa: The Warrior Twins (2010)
Baru The Wonder Kid (2010)
The Green Chic – Finding Dad (2011)
Crackers (2011 film) (2011)
Pangaa Gang (2010)
Mighty Raju : Rio Calling (2014)
The above list does show that despite its popularity, animation in India continues to be a television phenomenon but that is changing with bigger budgets, better software, trained manpower in plenty and availability of final products at competitive prices. The last is of particular importance as till a while back the animation work was done in the west which invariably was expensive and thus restricted its usage to select big budgeted movies. The recent presence of quality work within India at competitive prices means that in times to come, we shall see in good numbers, full-length 2D/ 3D animation movies and serials of a very, very high standard. Case in point? King Khan’s movies like RA One and Om-Shanti-Om which created new records on the box office!
So…dim your lights, wear your 3D spectacles and …..enjoy the spectacle!