When asked to comment on the quality of animation films produced in India, I recall commenting that we are still in infancy stages right now, still grappling with how to make animation movies, still confused about the target audience and how to compete with feature films which remain the first choice of moviegoers… The thought of competing or comparing with animation films in the West just doesn't arise at this point.
Generally, animation films made across the Atlantic target not just the kids, but also grownups, but the animation films made in Mumbai are targeted at kids primarily. When they [the kids] have access to the best of animation on television, why would they spend their parents' hard-earned money to watch an animation film in theatres?
But, hopefully, things should change for better with Ketan Mehta's animation film Ramayana, which has been timed during Dashehra. One expects a top notch animation film from Mehta, mainly because his studio [Maya] is a front-runner in the animation industry. The expectations only double since Mehta and director Chetan Desai choose 'Ramayana' as the subject for their animation film.
Ramayana works for two reasons. One, the story [yes, we know the story well, but love to listen to it again and again] keeps you hooked and two, the quality of animation is super. It's difficult to encompass this great epic in a two-hour film [this one's less than two hours], but the makers convey all they ought to convey most effectively.
A number of sequences from Ramayana have recall value. But, as a viewer, I really liked the portions depicting the fight between Sugriva and Bali, Raavan's introduction, Hanuman's journey to Lanka and of course, the battle between Lord Rama and Raavan. In fact, the battle is spectacular and blows your mind. Besides, the vibrant usage of colors coupled with a fast-paced narrative makes this animation film the best we've seen so far. In addition to that, special attention has been paid to the lighting and costumes. Also, the animated characters come alive with voice-overs by Manoj Bajpayee [Lord Rama], Juhi Chawla [Goddess Sita], Ashutosh Rana [Raavan] and Mukesh Rishi [Lord Hanuman].
The only problem that I see is the usage of chaste Hindi at several points, which makes it difficult to comprehend. Also, a few incidents/occurrences from the epic are fleetingly mentioned, which may seem right since the makers didn't want to exceed the desired length of the film, but when you decide to make a film on 'Ramayana', you can't mention the vital incidents fleetingly.
On the whole, Ramayana is a must-watch. It's the kind of cinema that should appeal to youngsters as well as adults, the kids and the kids-at-heart.