One film is not enough to make me bankrupt,” says Ketan Mehta, shrugging off reports that his animated feature, Ramayana — The Epic, has put him in the red and resulted in the sacking of his staff. “We’ve acquired a studio and are in the process of relocating. And since an outsourcing project has just wrapped up — and in the animation industry people are taken on one project at a time — we thought this transition period was a good time to let go off a few staff members. Obviously they are offended.”
While admitting that his ambitious project failed to live up to the Dassera hype, blaming it on examination time, Mehta insists that Ramayana was not made so much for the Indian market that’s still in the nascent stage as far as animation goes, but a more global audience.
The English version, The Legend Of Rama, was recently invited to the MIAAC Film Festival in New York and producer-presenter Mehta plans to release it abroad in the spring of 2011.
“Animation is a global business and the Ramayana is the most popular Indian epic ever told,” points out Mehta, adding that he plans to dub or subtitle it in European languages, including French, German, Spanish and Italian. “Also, Japanese for sure and may be a few other South-East Asian languages like Indonesian and Thai.”
The Legend Of Rama has been dubbed by Kabir Bedi who lends his voice to Ravan, Randeep Hooda as Ram, Gulshan Grover as Lakshman, Prashant Narayanan as Hanuman and Nandana Sen as Sita.
Meanwhile, the most expensive, full-length animated film to come out of India, has locked a Rs 7 crore satellite deal with STAR TV. Ashutosh Mordekar of Star confirms the news: “Star is always looking out for movie content that engages the entire family and children’s movies have always been an important part of Star Gold’s content strategy. Ramayana is a family entertainer, with an epic storyline narrated with high quality animation.”
Mehta adds that a syndication and home entertainment deal done has also locked with Disney channel and Maya Digital Media is now planning two more animation features as international co-productions.