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Showtime for desi animation

Shekhar Kapur has now reversed gear and plonked a Nagina right in the middle of Los Angeles, reports Renuka Bisht.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2007 03:15 IST
Renuka Bisht

Shekhar Kapur, after making Elizabeth in Indian colours, has now reversed gear and plonked a Nagina right in the middle of Los Angeles. Sridevi turns Snakewoman in the animated series he is authoring for Virgin Comics, which wants to fashion new planetary myths out of the great Indian legends. And back in his homeland, thanks in no small part to the runaway success of Hanuman, these legends have suddenly become more than palatable after decades of overseas product domination in the animation sector.

Cartoon Network, the pioneer that still leads the pack in an increasingly crowded children’s TV market, has announced that it will herald Diwali with a movie marathon of Vikram Betaal, The Legend of Buddha, Pandavas and Bal Hanuman.

Why this concentration on homegrown animations? Monica Tata, who heads Turner International’s ad sales in South Asia, points out that “the Krishna movies (when aired by Cartoon Network in April) were the highest raters across kids’ TV channels to date.”

The children’s TV market is currently sized at Rs 1.3 billion, but poised for around 25 per cent year on year growth.

With an animated version of no less than Sholay being in the pipeline, the future is bound to spring some surprises. For now, however, it’s the 4-9 year olds who are driving the domestic demand for animated content on TV. The FICCI-PwC Frames 2007 report says this demand will grow at a CAGR of 49.5 per cent, expanding by Rs 2,400 million between 2006-2010. Still, 70 per cent of the revenues generated by Indian animation studios continue to come from outsourcing, because their products cost up to 150 per cent less than those of US or Canada counterparts.

But JI Varadarajan who heads marketing at Toonz India, preparing the much-awaited Hanuman sequel for release by the year’s end, underlines that “while others like the Chinese might be able to offer cheaper services, they cannot match our quality or sync with the Western sensibilities like us.” Hence Kapur’s ability to shape the Queen and the snakewoman with equal panache?