Regional Toon Spotlight: India

Hollywood backshop focuses on local product

MUMBAI — Indian audiences have traditionally preferred live-action stars to animated characters, but several filmmakers are hoping to rewrite the formula. According to the latest study of India’s animation and gaming industry by Nasscom (National Assn. of Software and Services Cos.), the share of animated movies is expected to grow significantly, from 15% in 2005 to 28% in 2009. Highlights include:

  •  “Koochie koochie hota hai” (Something Happens): Filmmaker Karan Johar reworks his 1998 romance “Kuch kuch hota hai” into a $5 million computer-animated film, helmed by protege Tarun Mansukhani. The film, co-produced by Dharma Prods. and Prana Studios, features dogs in a love triangle, voiced by the film’s original stars, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee.

  •  “Arjun”: The 2-D animated film, produced by UTV Motion Pictures, is about the coming-of-age of Arjun, a legendary Hindu warrior from the ancient Indian epic “The Mahabharata.”

  •  “Toonpur ka Superhero” (The Superhero of Toonpur): This hybrid of live action and CG animation features an actor (Ajay Devgan) who accidentally lands in the cartoon world and is then embroiled in the battle between the good Devtoons and evil Toonasurs. Co-produced by Eros Intl. and Big Screen Entertainment.

  •  “Feluda”: Based on the popular character created by Satyajit Ray, Feluda is a suave, young detective who, along with his young cousin Topesh and his writer friend Jatayu, solves tough criminal cases. Two 80-minute movies are in pre-production at the Hyderabad-based DQ Entertainment.

  •  “Sultan the Warrior”: This CG toon, co-produced by Ocher Studios and Big Pictures, features Tamil superstar Rajnikanth as the lead. Extensive motion capture was done on Rajnikanth, who also voices Sultan, a common man in contempo India who takes on the bad guys. The soundtrack for the $5 million film has been composed by Oscar winner A.R. Rahman.