Even as we speak of big animation studios like Disney, Pixar & DreamWorks, we should not forget that Indian animation has a come a long way since the first Indian stop-motion film by Dadasaheb Phalke in 1941. After 73 years, India is not only the largest outsource animation market, but is also creating its own animation films. This year itself, we witnessed the landmark achievement of our very own, first motion capture feature film – Kochadaiiyaan. Besides this, the year also saw the release of Chaar Sahibzaade & Mighty Raju-Rio Calling.In the light of these developments, it becomes important to take a look at the history & evolution of Indian animation.
As mentioned above, the first Indian animation was made by the Father of Indian Cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke in 1941. His film was a stop-motion animation about the growth of a peapod into a plant. Following this, in 1956, Clair Weeks, a Disney Studios animator was invited by the Films Division of India to set up & train animators for the first ever Indian animation studios, and the first official Indian animated film was made in 1957 – The Banyan Deer.Veteran animators Bhimsain & Ram Mohan trained under Clair Weeks & started their career in the Film Division’s Cartoon Unit. Later, Japanese film maker, Sako & Ram Mohan made an epic animated movie ‘Ramayana- The Legend of Prince Rama’, which received outstanding reviews abroad.
A landmark animated film was made in 1974 by the Films Division – Ek Aur Anek Ekta – a short traditional educational film & was broadcasted on Doordarshan. By the 90s India brought VFX to its television sets with shows like Captain Vyom & Captain House.
The Indian animation industry has grown by leaps & bounds over the past 10 years. India has finally embraced the idea of creating believable animated products. Roadside Romeo, My Friend Ganesha, Hanuman & Chotta Bheem has changed the face of Indian animation films.‘Arjun- The Warrior Prince’, released in 2012 in India & US, wowed the audience with the sheer quality & brilliance of animation, unlocking new career opportunities in the industry. Big Hollywood production houses & studios continue to have business tie-ups with Indian production houses & studios.There is also a major investment in animation education with animation institutes concentrating on quality 2D& 3D training along with various other courses related to film making technology.
Future of the industry
The Indian film industry continues to evolve every day. There is a higher amount of investment in technology & infrastructure related to film making. Train, talented individuals have greater opportunities to become successful animators. Beginners & established animators are being encouraged to create & develop new films, and experiment with their creativity, thus broadening their horizons. VFX, sound effects, light effects & computer graphics are used heavily in almost every film today & the industry is focusing on perfecting it; harnessing the available technology & importing better resources. With Hollywood collaborating with Indian production houses, outsourcing of animation & technological work from abroad has helped India achieve the expertise in understanding how to go about it in a more professional manner. There are a number of VFX companies operating in India, catering to various clients in domestic circuit as well as internationally. The Indian animation & film industry will continue to strive & achieve the technical & creative excellence to move forward with gleaming hope.