It's sad but true that the $2 billion Indian film industry, touted as one of the largest in the world, still treats animation as an orphaned child.
The Indian animation industry is pegged at $350 million and yet remains in the dark because of the size of our companies and the lack of creative storytellers, market intelligence and writers, feels Rudra Masta, CEO RME, a company, known for making Indian animation television series "Little Pandavas", "Baba" and "Garuda".
"At $350 million, this is a good number to settle with for Indian animation industry. I don't see scope for fancy forecasting of the industry becoming $1 billion in 2014, when the turnover of most successful Indian animation companies with different business models is as low as Rs.300 crore (over $55,000,000)," Rudra told IANS.
"The lack of good storytellers like John Lasseter, producers with market intelligence and taste like Walt Disney and writers with good hold over animation storytelling techniques are further making Indian animation a distant dream," he added.
The state of animation films is obvious from the fact that Nikhil Advani's "Delhi Safari" was the only known title from the genre that came out last year.
Rishi Wadhwa, associate director, writer and creative head of Hindi animated film "The Green Chic -Finding Dad", feels apart from improving quality of animated films, filmmakers need to create characters that is loved by the Indian audiences.
"We should make animation films that are as good as films made by Disney or Pixon because Indian kids watch movies like 'My Friend Ganesha' on TV because of its quality, but prefer watching foreign animated film only in cinemas. This is the very reason why we need our own superheroes and characters instead of bringing foreign superheroes to India," Wadhwa told IANS.
According to FICCI Deloitte 2012 report, the Indian VFX and animation industry faces structural challenges such as weak pre-production cycle, shortage of skilled manpower and high resource costs.
Shankar Mohan, director, International Film Festival of India (IFFI), feels there's a need for a platform to showcase and contemplate about animation movies and its future in the country.
"We need a good platform to showcase the best animated films which are based on the emerging trends in the animation industry, and thus we introduced a new segment at the 42nd IFFI on animation and 3D cinema, which aims to promote and appreciate the form of animation as a narrative medium for mature cinematic storytelling and review and celebrate animated films", Shankar said.
Summing it up, Bollywood director Nikhil Advani, pointed out that unless studios and distributors don't have faith in animation, the dream will never be reality.
"Unless big studios and distributors don't believe in animation we'll be stuck in this dream phase. Although we're technologically advanced and have a bevy of very creative art directors and storytellers, but we're still stuck to mythological characters and it's time to move away from mediocre animation", he added.
Quite true. Toonz Animation, Crest Communications, Maya Entertainment and Silvertoon are the Indian companies that have dedicated themselves to the outsourced world of animation.
Do you see the change happening soon?
"Last one year has been really good for Indian cinema in terms of better narrative and presentation of our films. Lately, we've had so many animation festivals in the country and the films that are screened here are very good so hopefully, we can see the change happening soon", said Advani.
(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)