Interview : India now ready to take animation to next level says Ketan Mehta
New Delhi, Oct 6: With “Motu Patlu: King of Kings” coming out in stereoscopic 3D animation on October 14, acclaimed filmmaker and Maya Digital Studios founder Ketan Mehta says the time is right for the Indian animation industry to take off in a big way.
“Animation industry in India is growing extremely rapidly over the last five years. Since India is actually a late starter in the animation industry, it took time to gain momentum. But now, there is a large talent pool that is available in India and I think India is ready to take it to the next level now,” Ketan told ILT in an email interview from Mumbai.
According to the FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2015, the animation and VFX market in the country was pegged at Rs 51 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow to Rs 58.7 billion the year after.
“Motu Patlu: King of Kings”, produced by Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, Cosmos Entertainment and Maya Digital Studios and directed by Suhas D. Kadav, is about two best friends from Furfuri Nagar. These are popular characters from Hindi comic magazine Lotpot, and after a successful TV series on the same, its movie version is now set to enthrall cinema-goers, courtesy Ketan Mehta, Deepa Sahi and Anish JS Mehta.
Ketan, at the Lonavla International Film Festival last month, had shared that he had “faced a crisis as a filmmaker” when he wanted to infuse some visual effects for a scene in his 1993 film “Maya Memsaab”. There was a lack of up-to-date animation equipment and expertise to meet his need in India.
That’s when the idea of launching Maya Digital Studios with wife Deepa dawned upon him.
Looking back at the days, Ketan said: “When we started the studio initially, there was just no manpower in India, technology was totally new, and when we started MAAC (Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics), there were hardly any trained professionals in India.”
“For the first 10 years, most of the work the animation studios and we did was outsourced from the US or Europe. Gradually, just five years ago, the entire scenario started changing. Most of the TV channels were also just recycling American or Japanese animation. But they realised very soon that unless they help original Indian content, the growth was not really possible.”
He said when they took a leap of faith and decided to create their own IP, it paid off.
“It has actually galvanised the entire industry to an extent where most of the international channels are now telecasting Indian content. That has also given bandwidths for the studios to start creating feature films. First, they started doing TV features and over the last few years, more and more feature films are also happening and the entire growth is really gaining momentum,” Ketan said.
Maya Digital Studios plunged into a full-length feature film with the 2010 movie “Ramayana — The Epic”.
“But the market hadn’t grown sufficiently (at that time). Since then, the market has grown, entire generations of children are growing up on watching Indian animation and with ‘Motu Patlu’ in stereoscopic 3D, we believe that the time is right for Indian animation industry to take off,” he added.
However, the fact that “animation is a global phenomenon” is what the Indian animation industry has to realise.
“Catering just to the domestic market is not going to be enough for the substantial growth of the industry. But we also have to realise that as compared to the American, European, Chinese and Japanese animation films, Indian animation is being done at a fraction of those costs and the cost difference is so high that to match those qualities within these costs, becomes very difficult.”
“I believe that the only solution to this is that the Indian creative talent has to get more ambitious and believe in themselves and make products for the global market,” he said, adding that with “Motu Patlu”, they are trying to expand the market substantially.
“We believe that the time is right and the potential has just begun.”