By Ritesh Gupta
Issue: Animation - Aug 29, 2003


NEW DELHI, INDIA - A famous Indian fable told in 3D animation to be viewed by North American television audiences. Far-fetched? Not really. New Delhi-based Moving Pictures Company Ltd. (MPCL) is producing India's first indigenous longformat 3D animation series "Jungle Tales" for television audiences worldwide. "Jungle Tales" will be marketed not only in India, but also in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and North America.

MPCL, which specializes in 3D animation, television software and documentary films, expects to complete the 13-episode, 22-minute series by the end of this year. The stories of Panchatantra were originally written in Sanskrit and the translation means "five doctrines of conduct." The tales, in which main characters are portrayed by animals, teach children the values of friendship, knowledge, confidence and hard work.

MPCL's VP of marketing and operations, Pankaj Bhushan, says, "Though it's an inspiration from the Panchtantra tales, the treatment is completely different and is shaped in the modern idiom. We are primarily targeting kids, but the audience will also include complete family viewing."

"We felt the narration and treatment of the story needed to be done as per the profile of today's kid, who is much more sophisticated," says MPCL's chief technology officer, CB Arun Kumar.

Citing examples, Kumar adds, "For instance, we have worked on a couple of characters who have [cell phones] in their hands and enjoy watching television. The stories will convey messages such as ‘slow and steady' wins the race but with a difference."

MPCL's decision to produce "Jungle Tales" denotes the fact that original content production is gaining momentum in India. Recently, another animation studio, UTV Toons announced its plans to produce the 2D animation television series "Kahin Nak Na Kut Jaye."

The 52-episode comedy series is described as a family viewing series for prime-time audiences on Indian television. "Normally in India the perception of animation is relegated mostly to kids viewing. But this series aims straight at the entire family audience," says Ronnie Screwvala, chairman/chief executive officer of UTV.

The series has been set up in a city called Anantnak (which means endless noses). The inhabitants of the city are differentiated on the basis of their wealth and length of their noses.

Besides original content, the Indian animation studios are also engaged in doing projects - majority of them in production stage - and co-productions with international clients.

On India gaining popularity for outsourcing of work, Ramesh Sharma, chairman and managing director of MPCL, says, "For international production houses, the three major attractions are the fact that we offer the best quality, the most aggressive prices and we have a large information technology work force, which has already proven its capabilities. At a time when costs are becoming an issue in the USA and Europe, India is seen as a natural partner."

Adds Sharma, "Also the time difference and the broadband Internet links ensure that all outsourcing work is done almost on a realtime basis. The fact that we have one of the largest entertainment industries in the world also helps our case."