Ketan Mehta describes the Ayodhya verdict as “shocking and unexpected” and asserts that his feature on the prince of Ayodhya, Ramayan, will be a “turning point” for the Indian animation industry. “So far, our films have lost out to Hollywood because they were basic and sub-standard.
But our studio, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics, has been working on international projects for a decade now. It was time to take the giant leap forward and create own product, an Indian story for the global market, and what better than Valmiki’s epic,” he reasons.
The film is gearing up for a Diwali release. Won’t the Commonwealth Games, the Ayodhya verdict and the prevailing festivities take away a chunk of his audience? “Dussehra is closely associated with Lord Rama and school vacations will be on. We had locked on the date months in advance. Now we can only hope and pray,” he smiles.
Mythology on screen
Mehta plans to produce more such features and is already at work on the next one. Is it the Mahabharata? “That would be exciting but too big a challenge. We need a little more time for it. But there are other Indian stories that we can take to the world,” he points out, refusing to divulge details about this film or the one he’s going to direct next, saying its too premature.
Mehta’s Hindi-English bilingual, Rang Rasiya (Colour Of Passion), which was to release two years ago, is finally out of the woods and scheduled to open before the year-end. The film is based on the life of 19th century Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma, and toplines Randeep Hooda, Nandana Sen and newcomer Triptha Parashar. Wife Deepa is also ready with her first film as a director, Tere Mere Phere. The film stars Vinay Pathak, Riya Sen and a new lead pair, Jagrat Desai and Sasha Goradia.
“Deepa’s been wanting to direct for a long time. She was to make a film last year but it didn’t work out. Then she got this delightful script and took the plunge, literally,” he chuckles.
It was Mangal Pandey that brought Aamir Khan and him together. Any chances of another collaboration? “Sure,” he says, “I’ve not stopped making movies and Aamir hasn’t stopped acting. We’ve been talking but haven’t fixed on any specific subject.”