Why are home-grown animated films not living up to the hype generated by their Hollywood counterparts?

Hollywood animation films are making deep inroads into rural India. The Jungle Book (2016) reportedly grossed a massive ₹250 crore from the Indian market. Earlier Hollywood films like Ice Age 4 & 5, How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Angry Birds Movie too did great business in the country.

This Friday Disney Pixar’s Incredibles 2 will open in the Indian market in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu in nearly 1,100 screens. It opened in the US last Thursday and earned $180 million in the opening weekend, breaking all records for an animation film.

Finding gold in animation


In Tamil Nadu, the film is opening on June 22 in 150 screens in Tamil and English and some theatres are allotting prime screens and shows, despite stiff opposition from films like Jayam Ravi’s Tik, Tik, Tik.

But Indian animated films have not been able to generate the same response as their Hollywood counterparts; the last Tamil full-length animation film, Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan (2014), failed to create a stir. Recently, animation work has been used in title cards and songs.

‘Motion Graphics’ is also gaining popularity; we last saw it in the flashback portions in Rajinikanth’s Kaala. Recent Tamil films that used animation include OK Kanmani, Moodar Koodam, Thegidi and Solo. Animated titles were also used in director Atlee’s Theri and Mersal.

Rakesh Gowthaman of Chennai’s Vettri Theatres says, “Hollywood animation films dubbed into Tamil have a huge market with family audiences. It provides them a unique 3D and sound experience and technically cannot be matched by Indian films. The advance booking for Incredibles 2 is good compared to local content.”

The scene is similar in smaller centres as well. A spokesperson of a theatre in Salem says, “Most theatres in semi-urban areas are fitted with 2K and 3D projectors with Atmos sound system. The biggest attraction for the audiences to come with their families is to enjoy Hollywood animation films dubbed into Tamil.”

Finding gold in animation


The major animated shows in India are based on mythological characters such as Hanuman, Ganesh and Bheem. This leads to audiences lapping it up on their television screens, but the same popularity does not translate into ticket sales in theatres. This is ironic considering the fact that the makers of most Hollywood animation films rely on Indian studios to fulfil their vision.

Says a spokesperson of a Hyderabad-based animation studio, who has worked in Hollywood and Bollywood projects, “In the West, they create strong characters like in Ice Age series. The stories lend themselves to sequels very easily. Another major factor is that their budget is 10 to 20 times that of an Indian animated film, which is made on a shoe-string budget of ₹5 to ₹8 crore.”

Now, all eyes are on Yash Raj Films, who are distributing the animated film, Hanuman vs Mahiravana 3D. The film releases on July 6 across India, in Hindi and Tamil. The film, directed by Ezhil Vendan, looks at the “untold story” of Mahiravana, an evil sorcerer who rules the underworld and also happens to be Ravana’s brother.

Sunil Narvekar, Head of Film Distribution at SPI Cinemas, says: “Hollywood animation films are in a different category altogether in terms of sound and quality. But it is difficult to break the audiences perception about Indian animation film. We are hoping for a breakthrough with Hanuman vs Mahiravana.”

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