Krishna Premiere: Audiences give thumbs up

nullThursday, 27 September 2006. The scene at Andheri’s Fun Republic is bustling as usual. The regular media promotions, events, youth hanging out etc., But there’s more, there’s a lot of kids, a lot of parents and a lot of TV Channel crew and cameras. There’s a red carpet too. Five minutes pass by and the gathering increases. The Media flashbulbs and power lamps are ablaze. One spots peers and familiar faces from the media in the crowd, but they are busy. They have surrounded a 30 something Amman Khan who is sporting a stylish blazer and long locks. One hears a barrage of questions being volleyed. How is an animation film made? How long did it take for you to make this film? Who is the target audience? Is this going to have an International release like Pixar movies are released in India? We are at the premiere of Shethia’s Krishna: Aayo Natkhat Nandlal and animation is high on the Indian media ascendant. And this story is not about the outsourcing model, it is about indigenously created content which is being publicized to and consumed by Indian audiences. The producers of the 3D animated feature have gone all out to promote and publicize their movie. They have gone the whole hog in this department, in terms of additional exposure and tapping ancillary revenue streams. Buses, Rickshaws, TV, Outdoor, Visual Merchandise, Print etc., the cultural entertainment product is visible everywhere. As one enters the hall at Screen 3 on the fourth floor, one thing nags the mind. What about the animation quality? It seems not quite there. Will a highly publicized animation product that has a winning theme and not so winning animation quality jeopardize the perception of Indian created animation in audience’s minds? Or will it provide insights of a different kind? The movie begins……. Titles are impressive, the first scene plays out and being from Animation, one looks out for animation details. How’s the modeling? How’s the texturing? the lighting? the Composites and scene setting? And most importantly, the animation? And oh yes of course, in spite of having read on and being completely aware of Sri Krishna’s life, one seeks for a story in the film. Character design is subjective and depends on the style and vision of the director. As a viewer, your’s truly was constanly reminding himself of the auspices of ‘Creative License’. While the modeling looks good enough, consumers who swear by popular animation might take a while to acquire a taste for this different looking animation product. There’s a positive flipside too. Though one cannot call this film as a new style of animation, there are a few scenes and shots that promise an evolution of a unique Indian animation style. The movie plays on and is interesting to watch. At the interval one asks around, looking for comments. So how do you find this film? “I am loving it” says 8 year old Trisha Parekh, proudly showing off her Krishna Stickers collection. “We are so happy that finally someone is making animation films on our culture” shares Prabha Thakkar, an elderly Grandmother. “We want to teach our kids about our culture” shares her Husband Mr Thakkar. “Picture is quite interesting” shares Tina Sangle. “In fact I have come with my Husband and four nephews to watch this” Quietly standing in a corner is Time’s Dhirajlal Shah. The Bollywood producer is observing the proceedings. “I am not involved in the production of this movie” he shares “But I have just come here to see and observe. From what I see, this movie is definitely going to be a hit. The Animation quality of the movie is just about tolerable but the business proposition is great” One spots the Celebrity couple of Varun Vadola and Rajeshwari. “I quite like the movie” shares Varun. But Varun what about the quality of animation? one asks. “Oh that, see it is generally known that producing animation is a way costly affair. These guys have made this kind of a movie for the first time and it is a new thing in the Indian market. Obviously they are not going to make heavy investments while testing the waters” shared Varun. “And surely the quality will keep on improving” Interval over, one goes back in, head reeling with quite a new insight and perspectives. One looks at the screen and then looks at the audience. What are the reactions? They are engrossed. There’s a surprise in store. The end credits. Very innovative and interesting to watch, the live action music video featuring kids dancing to funk and western freestyle along with Nausheen Ali and Mukul Dev. It is really fun. Back downstairs as we exit the Multiplex, 10 year old Mishaal shares “I have read the story of Krishna a hundred times. But I love it and I enjoyed this movie” What about the quality of animation? One repeats yet again as if it were a mantra. The kid looks puzzled for a second and raising his brows replies “It was good” The outlook for Box Office gross and other revenues definitely look lush green for Krishna. Even if one sets the business angle apart and studies reactions as far as audience tastes go. There is something that seems like a positive verdict! Critics be damned! The majority of the audience says that we want Indian content and we like it! We are going to be patient with the quality of animation but we want more Indian stories. They are hungry for such themes. Thank Heavens, Yours truly is a cheerleader and not a critic. Three Cheers to Krishna! Three cheers to Indian animation! Great job Shethia, for choosing the right subject, for marketing and creating awareness of animation to Indian audiences. But as far as the quality of the animation goes, we demand a significantly better product next time. P.S: As an animation puritan and researcher on the subject of Kids content and consumption, one has to share, that the sequence with the Bhootna as well as the graphic depiction of Kansa killing the infants could have been handled more sensitively.