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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rajni dresses up as Sultan in other languages

Animated versions of movies could provide other revenue streams.
SuperStar Rajnikanth’s Sivaji might have been a super-hit in south India. But for those who don’t understand Tamil, you can watch a substitute called Sultan in English, Telugu or even Japanese. Only this will be an animated film, produced by Anil Ambani’s Adlabs Films at an extravagant budget of Rs 40 crore.

Welcome to the new world of animation films. Production houses like Adlabs, Karan Johar’s Dharma Production, Firoz Nadiadwala of Hera Pheri fame and Pritish Nandy Productions are converting blockbusters or popular heroes and characters into animated films with new stories and plots.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, this emerging market for animated films could be over Rs 340 crore by 2010 from only Rs 65 crore currently.

Unlike conventional movies, animation films could offer revenue streams far beyond the life of the film itself. “You could publish comic books, merchandise, create games and so on. Such projects have a life beyond a film and lend easily to sequels, gaming, publishing, licensing, and so on,” said Sidhartha M Jain, head of animation, Adlabs Films.

Companies are using different models to push their animation strategy. “These are not dumb conversions. We are transforming the movies into the new format and making them infinitely richer, bigger, and more powerful,” says Pritish Nandy, promoter Pritish Nandy Communications.

The production house is making three animation movies based on earlier releases. The first will be a version of Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena , which was made two years ago. The animation version is called EKEH version 2.0. The other two are based on blockbusters like Kaante and Pyar Ke Side Effects.

“In both cases, we take the story ahead. All these versions of existing films will be much larger in size and scale, which is possible while making animation movies,” Nandy added.

Likewise Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar's Dharma Productions is also converting its super hit movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in to an animation film.

Johar is planning to convert the three central characters in the film into animals—but the voice-overs will be done by the super stars Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjea.

There are others who are just taking characters and making an animation film around them. Adlabs Films, for instance, apart from using Rajnikanth is also leveraging existing kidswear label Gini& Jony.

“Using existing characters like Gini & Jony gives us a ready fan base or awareness for the characters. Also, in the case of Gini&Jony we get to partner with a retail company and leverage the potential in the licensing and merchandising space, which is essential for these kind of projects,” Jain explains.

He adds that the ancillary products will be out in the market much before the release of the movies. The budget for this film is Rs 15 to 20 crore .

Production houses are also looking at different audiences to tap. Adlabs, for instance, is concentrating primarily on the Indian family audiences, including kids across the globe.

But Nandy specifically says his films will not be children’s movies. “They will be fun flicks for everyone to watch. You will have great action. You will have sex. You will have violence. You will have everything that goes into the making of a mainstream movie.”

Both companies, however, are looking at the global market and hope to dub their movies to generate wider audience appeal amongst non-Indian audiences.



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