Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of weekly columns by Fred Patten that survey films, television and trends in the Indian animation industry. These stores are mainly culled from the Indian trade journal Animation Xpress - and these (below) represent material for first half of January 2014.
After several years, I still have no idea how I got on Animation Xpress' mailing list when apparently nobody else in the American animation community has. If anyone wants to get the complete newsletter, which is mostly not about animation but about Indian comic-cons, Indian video games, new Indian animation software, and the like, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you Animation Xpress' automatic subscription weblink.
January 2. Animation Xpress delivers two animated New Year shorts, along with their studios' plans for 2014. First, "Vaibhav Studios wishes a Happy 2014 to AnimationXpress.com readers by sharing with us the latest animated TVC in Fevicol commercial series. Scripted by O&M Mumbai, this 14 second TVC is Designed and Directed by Vaibhav Kumaresh, developed by Vaibhav Studios, Music & Sound design executed by Roto Shah, Animation production is done by Chandni Chudasama, Technical direction brought out by Bhavesh Gondaliya, Animation by Vinayak Phadatare, Modeling & Layout by Tapas Jana, Bhavesh Gondaliya, Mahboob Raja, Rigging is by Chandni Chudasama, Abhijit Ghodke, Texturing by Avinash Gulhane Lighting carried out by Sagar Kulkarni and Production assistant is Baadal Chaurasia". Vaibhav Studios plans to spend 2014 working on its Return to the Jungle CGI feature, which has been in production for a couple of years now.
Second, "Handmade Animation Studio Creates 'Naya Saal Mubarakho' Stop Motion Animated Short. Handmade Animation Studio, which is currently seeking a broadcast deal for its mythology stop motion feature 'Ashur Binasini', has created Naya Saal Mubarakho Stop Motion Animated short that wishes one and all a very Happy New Year. Founder of this studio, Amit Patel, describes this 1 minute, short 'A Shayarana Andaz movie' and the dialogues in the short very well justify Amit's description.
Putting light on how Handmade came up with the idea of this short, Amit shares his thoughts with AnimationXpress.com by saying, 'Our team member Sudeshna Dutta came up with the idea of creating something creative for New Year." As we were busy with our film, we didn’t have ample of time to create something on a larger scale and hence decided to bring out something short, revolving around a single character.’ The character used in this short is picked from their previous stop motion work titled 'Koi Deewana Kehta Hai' and they did some touch up to this character and used it for this short.
Elaborating more on the making of the short, Amit, informs, ‘Entire animation of this short was based on Dialogues. We had to create a breakdown of every single phrase with the accurate lip shape.The characters lip was made using paper cuts.'
It took five days for the team to create the short. For executing animation, they've used Dragon Frame software. Dialogues are written by Sudeshna and voiced by Arvind Gupta. Adds more, 'We were clear during our pre-production module that the short will consist of a stage where the character is performing and so we went ahead to build it digitally in After Effects and added basic sounds of audiences.'"
Picking up from where KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 ReMIX ends, the trailer features fan-favorite characters like Sora, Roxas, Riku and Namine alongside the Disney cast including Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Hercules, King Mickey, Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) and others – now in stunning high-definition graphics.”
January 7. "Charuvi Design Labs 'Shri Hanuman Chalisa' to be honored as 'Outstanding Indian Design based IP' at Orbit Live- Industry Honours 2014. It is indeed a Happy New Year for Charuvi Design Labs as its animated mythological poetry 'Shri Hanuman Chalisa' is set to be honored as 'Outstanding Indian Design based IP' at Arena Animation's ORBIT LIVE – INDUSTRY HONOURS 2014. The movie will be screened at 13th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), 2014 and the 6th Jaipur International Film Festival which takes place in first week of February. CDL has also made a creative announcement that we will read in the later part of the story.
Charuvi Agrawal, Founder of CDL and Director of this short, will take home the award on 11th January, at the Second Edition of Orbit Live, set to happen at Mumbai."
Charuvi Design Labs has created a 'Shri Hanuman Chalisa: The Film and Exhibition’ display that is touring India and select other Asian nations like South Korea. "Innovative ways of marketing animated movies attract mass audiences and Charuvi looks like a firm believer of this as she has chosen to market the movie in full swing by launching Shri Hanuman Chalisa: The Film and Exhibition that showcases a divine sculpture made of 26,500 bells, which is an interactive installation that tries to invoke Hanuman through worship of Rama and divinity within. Another interactive installation lets you experience the awakening of chakras.
And to add to these ideas comes the announcement that CDL has just released limited edition of Hanuman Chalisa Film Book, in which you will see selected pictorials from the animated short.
So where do we see the next Shri Hanuman Chalisa: Film and Exhibition, Charuvi says, ‘We have few cities lined up for the exhibition and are currently finalizing the plan for the entire year. The main highlights are the film, 25 sculpts, 3-4 outsized physical installations, interactive applications and merchandize.’”
January 7. "Disney Princess Academy Event to Be Held Tomorrow at Mumbai. Due to popular demand the Disney Princess Academy has returned to India from January 5th and will continue till February 2nd, 2014.
This year the Academy will be even bigger with three additional cities added to the tour including, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi. The Academy will give 3600 Princess hopefuls the opportunity to attend and be a part offun-filled activities including makeover, dancing, etiquette training, tiara making and even a chance to meet their favourite Disney Princesses. Eight Lucky winners (one from each city) will also get a chance to be a star on Disney Channel!"
The description goes into greater detail than Animation Scoop readers will be interested in. A sample: "At the Disney Princess Academy, each participant will be groomed into real world princesses through a complete makeover and lessons in positive values such as compassion, intelligence, kindness and grace which the Disney Princesses personify the world over. Participants will also get a chance to be a part of Art and Craft session where they will learn to make their own tiara and take part in Dainty Dancing workshop. The event culminates with a Royal ball where fans will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with their favourite Disney Princesses."
And buy a ton of Disney merchandise. Here is just part of the list: "Disney gives Princess Fans an opportunity to experience its characters through an array of stylish and fun merchandise: An exciting range of Disney Princess role-play,which includes wands, tiaras, fashion accessories, Princess dolls, role-play sets,accessory backpacks to fulfil every little girls dream to be a Disney Princess. Available at a starting price of INR 99 · Little Princesses can bring to life their favourite Disney Princess stories through a range of home products such as electrical, wall decor, ceramic tableware, melamine tableware, fans, bed linen, door mats, towels, bathroom accessories and much more. Available at a starting price of INR 49 · Girls can wear their favourite Disney Princess through a range of fashion apparel such as t-shirts, skirts, dresses, shortsand accessories like costume jewellery, socks, footwear, watches, sunglasses and prescription frames.Available at a starting price of INR 99 · Experience the magic of Disney Princess through storybooks, colouring & activity books andlearning aid books at a starting price of INR 50” An Indian rupee is a little over U.S. one cent; there are currently ₹87 to the U.S. dollar. Note that Animation Xpress is still using the old INR abbreviation. I guess that they don’t have the new ₹ symbol on their typesetting equipment yet.
"Fans and their parents can win a chance to be a part of Disney Princess Academy 2014 by simply buying any Disney product and logging onto www.disney.in/dpa” Let’s just say that the Academy will thrill thousands of little girls and their parents, and will outrage feminists everywhere. Note that in the illustration, and also in the www.disney.in/dpa filmclip, Disney is showcasing the blonde, blue-eyed Rapunzel from Tangled. In India. I would have thought that Pocahontas or Jasmine would be a more suitable Princess, particularly considering the late 2012 public reaction to Disney's white-skinned blue-eyed Sophia in Sophia the First: Once Upon a Princess as a Latina Princess. (The direct-to-DVD CGI movie specifies that Sophia is a mixed-race child of a royal Latina mother and royal Nordic father, but this has not stopped criticism that for a Latina Princess, she does not look Latina enough. What must Indian parents think about their daughters being given a blonde, blue-eyed role-model?)
January 10. "Disney Princess Academy Mesmerizes Mumbai Fans." This story about the Academy’s one-day appearance in Mumbai on January 8 is little more than a gushing repetition of the previous story about all that the Academies have to offer, but it does include a publicity photograph.
January 13. This is unfortunately too new to have any animation finished yet, but it sounds intriguing.
"Quintessential Studios and Percept Pictures Hanuman-Ek Bacha Nidar Enters Production.
Hanuman – Ek Bacha Nidar, a 2D Animated 90 minutes full length feature, Directed by Ruchi Narain.
Produced by Percept Pictures in association with Quintessential Studios has entered production. Moviegoers in this animated feature will experience adventures of Jungle, exotic locales and characters that have been developed after tedious research and understanding of the rich Indian culture, flora, fauna and terrain in those times.
Speaking to AnimationXpress.com about the interesting aspects of this film, Abhishek Nayar - Associate Producer of Percept Pictures, shares, 'I feel the idea of exploring 'jungle-adventure’ genre with Hanuman is really new and multiple characters in the jungle including friends & enemies will be a delight to watch.'
'The Character Seetee in the movie is someone audiences should look forward too.' Alok Mishra, Executive Producer-Percept Pictures says 'As per the guidelines by Ruchi Narain our teams are working with the sole objective of creating a world that existed in the age of gods differently'
The team has been working on the movie since mid 2012 and looking to release it post Diwali this year. Around 50 artists have carried out the Pre Production of this movie whereas 100 are a part of the production process.
Ashish Kukian, SVP- Production-Quintessential Studios says 'God is in the details. Meticulous research of the Indian vegetation was conducted to create the perfect jungle environment. To re-create Hanuman’s home too, extensive research of the art, architecture and vegetation of Hampi and Kishkindha (Karnataka) was performed to achieve the precise designs." "The characters have been brought to life by some unique but famous voices from the Indian film industry e.g. Sneha Khanwalkar is an acclaimed music director but is the voice for 'Seetee', the second lead character in the film. The treatment of the film and the storytelling is very contemporary keeping in mind the liking of kids in present times’, concludes Abhishek."
The website of Quintessential Studios in Mumbai is interesting,