Kannada folk song gets Sanskrit animation makeover

Crowdfunded

Punyakoti, a cow, who lives in Karunadu, along the banks of Kaveri, always speaks the truth and keeps her promises. So when she encounters a hungry tiger, she refuses to be his prey at that moment, but promises to come back to him after she has fed her calf at home. And, true to her words, she returns.

This story forms the premise of a well known Kannada folk song, Govina Haadu (The Cow’s Song), which is now all set to get an animated makeover, courtesy Ravi Shankar V, a Bengaluru-based HR professional.

“I heard the Govina Haadu during a bus ride to work, and immediately thought why Arbuta (the tiger) came out of the jungle in the first place. I imagined a story about the tiger’s past and even wrote and published a picture book about how man is spoiling the animal habitat, which could have led Arbuta to come closer to the village. The book was published in Sanskrit also, and that gave me the idea of making an animated movie in
Sanskrit,” Shankar, 43, says.

Touted to be first ever animation film in Sanskrit, Punyakoti, however, is not a straight adaptation of the folk song. It is rather an imaginary take on the various issues that might have happened in Punyakoti’s village which ultimately led to her encounter with the tiger. Through the crowdfunded film, Shankar has tried to depict the conflict for survival between humans and animals. Likely to release later this year, Punyakoti will not be restricted to being a children’s film. “In the West, animation movies are made for all age groups. We too are making Punyakoti not as a kid’s movie. We are treating the production with great respect,” says Shankar.

But the journey has not been without its share of challenges. While the team successfully raised Rs 41 lakh through a crowdfunding platform, they still require over Rs 1 crore to complete the movie. Shankar says that while he feels lucky that some artists have agreed to work with them at discounted rates or even for free, he had to pulled out all his personal savings just to keep the project alive.

“But, there were several challenges apart from funding. Many talented animators were not ready to support as they believed the project will never take off. I wanted at least 10 to 15 studios to collaborate and work on this project, but that kind of collaboration is not easy as studios are always dealing with tight deadlines and financial constraints. Unlike the West, several aspects like working as a team, following a plan, being disciplined, honouring deadlines, were missing among the people I approached to work with,” he tells Metrolife.

He adds that some other challenges included finding an animation style that could be executed with limited resources. “We are making a frugal movie and so our references were not popular Hollywood productions. We also wanted the feel to be Indian, and not a copy of the West.

After several experiments we finalised on treatments that will look visually rich and be native in ethos. We were successful because we compensated with our passion for what we lacked otherwise,” he says.

Then came problems with producers, who Shankars says were “hesitant” to be associated with the film as “it is not a popular genre”. “We had to show something to prove how the final output will be to convince them. Animation is an expensive affair; a minute of animation takes much more effort and money than a normal live action movie. So we went for crowd-funding to launch the movie,” he says.

However, the film has big names like eminent musician Isaignani Ilayaraja, who willingly agreed to support the project. “Even though we faced several challenges in finding funds for the movie and there were agonising delays, he stood by our side. It is his blessing that has brought the project so far.”

Currently, while the film’s pre-production is over and the team is almost done with the dubbing and animatics, they are struggling because of budget constraints. “The recent Chennai floods also caused delays. If we are successful in finding the gap-funding, we still want to bring it out in 2016,” he says.


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