Sanskrit animation film reaches post-production

Punyakoti, the Sanskrit animation film based on a moving Kannada folk ballad, is making waves online.

Director Ravi Shankar, a digital transformation solutions head with Infosys, is directing it.

When he sought crowdfunding for it in 2015, he raised about Rs 41 lakh from 272 people.

“Whoever hears the Punyakoti song breaks out into tears; it is such an emotional and evocative piece. The story speaks about two important virtues, satya and dharma,” he says.

Ravi wanted people everywhere to hear the story, and wanted to preserve it for the generations ahead.

He conceived of the film towards the end of 2014, when he wrote a children’s picture book in English based on the Punyakoti story. It was later translated to Sanskrit.

“This was the foundation for the film. In 2015, my team and I decided to make the film. No one was then ready to produce it,” says Ravi. The team consists of Infosys employees. The company, incidentally, houses a Sanskrit club. Mohandas Pai, former director of Infosys, suggested the idea of crowdfunding. 

The team launched a campaign for pre-production in 2015 and it became one of the largest crowdfunded films, Ravi says.

“Ilaiyaraja agreed to do the music for our film for free. Revathi gave the voice for Punyakoti, and did not charge us a rupee. We got supporters on the Wishberry crowdfunding platform from Mumbai and Chennai,” he says.

Ravi has one regret though: not many Bengalureans stepped up. “People here like to wait and watch,” he rues. He hopes Bengaluru is more forthcoming. “What is the point if we don’t own our own culture and wait for foreigners?” he says. 

The crowdfunding campaign is back on Wishberry for 19 days. If you would like to contribute, log on to www.wishberry.in/campaign/punyakoti-is-back/#/campaign-new

Needs Rs 16.5 lakh more

Animators from Hyderabad, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata and Mumbai coordinated over Google Hangouts to create clips. The film has raised Rs 20 lakh from the present campaign and is trying to raise Rs 16.5 lakh more. The final creatives will be assembled by a group of animators in Thiruvananthapuram. Post-production is scheduled in Chennai (music by Ilaiyaraja) and Kochi. Abobe India granted the team a free licence to make the film.

Hit trailer

A trailer of the film was posted on YouTube in May and it has already garnered 3.55 lakh views.

Power of satya and dharma

The poem zeroes in on the house of Kalinga, who owns a cow called Punyakoti. Accosted by the hungry tiger Arbudha one day, Punyakoti pleads with him to let her go home, promising to return after feeding her little one. The tiger, though sceptical, lets her go when she says, ‘Truth is my father and mother, truth my kith and kin. Would the Lord spare me if I lied?’ Punyakoti feeds her little one, consoles him, tells her sister cows to care for him, and returns to the tiger to be eaten up. Tiger Arbudha is awe-struck by her honesty. Feeling guilty, he jumps off a cliff. The ballad (author unknown) is one of the first poems taught to children in Karnataka. It is crafted beautifully in the seven-beat mishra chaapu (7/8) beat.

A message

With Punyakoti, I hope to drive home the message of a life of integrity in harmony with nature. It tells a story of love, truth and honesty while also reviving the magical Sanskrit language.

Ravi Shankar
Director, Punyakoti

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Sanskrit animation film reaches post-production

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