Would you put Rs 100 crore to ride on the adventures of a baby elephant in 3D animation? Shabuddin Chowdari is. And he is confident of a new trend in India’s fledgling but increasingly ambitious animation film industry which is keen to walk the steps pioneered by works like Jungle Book.
Chowdari, CEO of Alvina Films Pvt Ltd, is sinking Rs 45 lakh for every episode —high by Indian film and TV standards and certainly in the kiddie business of animation. In the process, Alvina is also trying to take the Indian animators business out of the comfort zone of mythology and 2D animation.
“Bo Mamo-The Time Immemorial,” will feature 250 episodes of about 30 minutes each. Bo Mamo is a baby mammoth who loses his way after being stranded with his parents from their herd. The series is based on the wandering baby elephant’s adventures as he sets out to find his parents, befriending some other animals on the way.
“Work started on the project about four years back. It has about 100 characters and each of them is related to the story in some way or the other,” Chowdari told HT.
Shabuddin worked with a production company called Royal Arts Production for two years before venturing out independently and starting his own company. The six-year old company has a turnover of Rs 60 to Rs 70 crore annually, and has offices in Canada, Mumbai and Dubai. “We are in talks with a few television channels and may finalise the buyer in a time of six months”, he said.
Veterans in the industry which has made a mark for itself by combining India’s computer programme expertise with creativity feel Alvina has been ambitious in its spending and are unsure about recovery of the costs.
P Jayakumar, chief executive officer, Toonz Animation, said, “The costs of production for animation are very high as compared to that of live action and with the current market scenario, affected by the global downturn, it may be an uphill task to recover such huge costs.”
Toonz had produced the Tenali Rama series for Cartoon Network. Jayakumar estimated that it received about Rs 5 lakh per episode for the series, which was made in 2D.
Monica Tata, vice-president and deputy GM - entertainment networks - South Asia, Turner International India which runs the Cartoon Network and Pogo channels said it would be prudent for a producer betting on animation to have multiple recovery streams of revenue such as advertising sales, subscription, syndication, on-line franchises, licensing and merchandising.