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Telling Tales Through the Maya of Animation

June 2008
Telling Tales Through the Maya of Animation

When Singeethan Srinivasa Rao got hired as an assistant director of Maya Bazaar, a fifty-year-old Indian classic that was first made in Telugu, it had been his big break in the film industry. Rao couldn’t have guessed that one day, decades later, he would draw inspiration from Maya Bazaar for an animated film titled Ghatothkach—Master of Magic. In that sense, his career has come full circle. Made in 2D and 3D, this new film had its premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It features original songs and dance numbers in the manner of a typical Indian film. An earlier animated film by the same producers was titled Bal Ganesha.

Ghaththkach is being released in seven languages: English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Bengali. Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata, has a son, Ghatothkach, who’s also known as Ghattu. With the help of Gajju, a baby elephant, Ghattu uses his special powers to thwart the malicious Kaurava brothers. Maya Bazaar’s plot, too, comes from that Indian epic, but in the case of Ghatothkach, animation is also a part of the magic depicted in the film.

Animation is making rapid gains in the Indian film world. Now worth an estimated $550 million, according to Andersen Consulting, India’s animation industry is projected to grow at a yearly rate of 30 percent. NASSCOM, on the other hand, expects an annual growth rate of 25 to 35 percent over the next few years. Just in this decade, the number of employees in the Indian animation industry jumped by perhaps 275,000.

Even directors who have made mainstream hits are jumping on the bandwagon. Karan Johar, for instance, is reportedly working on an animated version of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, his blockbuster from the late ‘90s. It will be called Koochie Koochie Hota Hai. Another Mahabharata-based movie, focusing on one of the Pandava brothers, would be called Arjun. Also in the works is Govind Nihalani’s Kamlu. Aditya Chopra, meanwhile, is teaming up with Disney to make Roadside Romeo. Rajnikanth’s son is coming out with Sultan—The Warrior, in which the inspiration for the animated hero is, yes, Rajnikanth!

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