Features Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30
Siddhartha Mishra | The News Minute | November 23, 2014 | 03:22 pm IST “It’s not just a crowd-funded movie, it’s a proud funded movie”, quips Ravi Shankar, an HR professional in Infoysys from Bengaluru and the main man behind Punyakoti, India’s first Sanskrit animation film.  Based on a Kannada folk song of the same name, the story is the ordeal of a cow and a tiger with the issue of man-animal conflict as the underlying theme. It’s also arguably the first experiment in crowdsourcing in the country and different aspects of the project will be taken care of by interested studios and schools from around the world, for free. It’s also an open project with the assets for everyone to see on their website.  Only the music rights are reserved with Ilaiyaraaja, so we can’t complain there and a collector’s edition of the musical score is expected to release soon. “I want it to reach everyone”, Shankar explains. “A good film will last 50 years, people have re-runs of Sholay all the time”, he says.  “I’ve seen my five year old get hooked on to animation movies so quickly”, Shankar says. “He’ll pick up any language, kids are very impressionable and the idea is to make a film that can acquaint children with the language”, he further elaborates.  With regard to the experiment with crowdfunding he says that “cinema with a commercial focus will not work in an animation film”. “Say thirty studios can come in, make 3 minutes each, we’re done”, he adds. “It’s easier on everyone’s pocket”, he further explains while adding that “the story and content told with the right message and context is essential though”. On budgeting, he explains that “the creative bits are for free so what we need is money for equipment and storage spaces and the like”. “While the estimates have varied, we should be done between Rs 3-5 crore”, he concludes. Advertising though, will play a crucial role forward, and Shankar agrees.  “We’ll try to get the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on board”, he says while asserting his faith in the online sphere. “We saw the power of social media in the general elections and if Japanese movies can be appreciated, why not Sanskrit?” he questions. The open-ended nature of the project is quite visible on their website and makes for very interesting viewing with details to every step of the production process.  “We’re a set of I.T professionals”, he finally says, signing off.