He doesn’t mince words and says that he does not find commercial films interesting enough to waste two hours on. Which was why director Soumitra Ranade debuted with Jajantaram Mamantaram four years ago. But rues that the Indian film industry has still to realise the potential of animation and children’s cinema.
“Even though Jajantaram Mamantaram was widely appreciated, I found it difficult to find work. Producers would brush me aside as just another children’s film director,” he grouses.
Today Ranade is juggling with three projects — Friends Forever, Ali Baba and the 41 Thieves and Are you Alright Afghanistan.
Friends Forever has been in the making for a while and Ranade attributes the delay to the production house, Celluloid Dreams, parting ways with the animation studio mid-way through. “I had to begin work all over again,” he says but is still excited about presenting India’s first live action 3D character, Zampano.
And what’s new about Ali Baba..? Well, while the original version had only 40 thieves, his Ali Baba will have to contend with 41. John Abraham will give the voice over for Ali Baba.
Mukesh Tiwari and Razza Murad will lend their voice too. In the right spirit Ranade lived in war-ravaged Afghanistan for four years till 1980. And his documentary, Are You All Right Afghanistan, will portray much how the country has changed but how its people continue to be a spirited lot.
Returning to animation, Ranade raves about the Shrek series and Finding Nemo. What about Hanuman? “It was hugely suc cessful and encouraged producers to invest in animated movies. But its sequel didn’t live up to its expectations,” he says, adding that it is difficult to please chil dren. “Kids are really smart. They know if a movie is worth their time in the first five minutes itself.”