Friday, August 10, 2012

Saint and Sensibility: Animation on Sankardeva

Abdul Gani

Guwahati: In order to showcase Assam’s great 15th-century saint, Sankardeva, in a lively and spirited way, filmmaker Sanjeev Narain and his company have launched a project Sarbagunakara Srimanta Shankardeva, an animation film on the saint’s life and teachings.

The 90-minute feature will be the first-ever Assamese animated film since Jyotiprasad Agarwala came with his path-breaking ‘Joymati’ in 1935. “I always want to do something new in my life. This project came to my mind some five years back, but today I’m the happiest man to be able to declare that we are making the first-ever animated Assamese feature film, and that too, on Sankardeva,” said Sanjeev Narain, producer of the film.

A portrait of Shankardeva. Photo:
The film is being made to market it internationally with the latest technology. “Kolkata-based Kaleidoscope is looking after the technical aspects. We will dub the film in English, Hindi and Bengali for the global market,” he added. Around 140 people have already started working round the clock to finish the film in next six months.
National award-winning filmmaker Manju Bora is directing the film. “I congratulate Sanjeev for his initiative to make such a film. When he proposed the idea, I straightway said yes, and since then that thought kept knocking my mind,” said Bora, whose Akashitarar Kathare won the best regional film award in 2003. 

She is enthusiastic with the plot, and has vowed to do justice to the theme. “I really like the idea and feel proud to be a part of the project. It’s not possible to cover the complete life of the saint in just 90 minutes, but I have tried my best to do justice to the subject,” she added. 
The music of the film is being looked after by talented Tarali Sharma. 

The history of animation is almost a century old. El Apóstol (The Apostle), an Argentine animated film utilising cut-out animation in 1917, is regarded as the world’s first animated feature film. It was written and directed by Quirino Cristiani. It consisted of a total of 58,000 frames played over the course of 70 minutes at 14 frames per second.

In India, animation came much later in 1974 when the Films Division of India released Ek Anek Aur Ekta (one, many, and unity). It is a traditionally-animated short educational film which was telecast on the Doordarshan.

Of late, this genre of film has gained much popularity across the globe with films like Ice Age, Finding Nemo, Lion King, Shrek, Happy Feet, Kungfu Panda, Hercules, Madagascar etc, have posed a tough challenge to other films. This has fancied the imagination of kids and adults alike. Indian viewers also have their own versions of animation films like Hanuman, Krishna, Return of Hanuman, Roadside Romeo, Bal Ganesh, Arjuna: The Warrior Prince, Delhi Safari, etc, to name a few.

However, critics feel that India has still miles to go to compete with their Hollywood counterparts in so far as the quality of such films is concerned. “Animation as a genre of films is yet to be evolved fully in India, though we have had stray hits like Hanuman. 

The problem with animation filmmaking is that it’s highly expensive if one wants to do it visually appealing up to the level of what we see in international films, be it in Hollywood or in Japan,” New Delhibased film critic Utpal Borpujari told Seven Sisters Post. But there is a positive atmosphere to bring a change in this regard.

“And the audiences have access to superb animation films like Madagascar. Indian films are also evolving in quality, and the recent Arjuna: The Warrior Prince is a good example. Nikhil Advani’s Delhi Safari also seems to have quality animation going by its promo, and so does Govind Nihalani’s Kamlu,” the national award winning film critic added.

However, Borpujari, who was a jury member in several international film festivals, is hopeful of the project. “Srimanta Sankardev is definitely a great subject for animation. What’s important is that this subject has to be treated with high-quality animation and interesting treatment to woo the international market. I hope this project has the required budget to scale that height,” he said. (Seven Sisters Post)


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