The business of animation in India has come a long way from the early 90's - from being the muse of small groups of enthusiastic storytellers, to being a tool used widely in Bollywood and advertising industries.
E Suresh, Creative Director of Mumbai based Famous House of Animation, was one of the early starters in this industry and his studio has emerged as one of the foremost creative workshops. Suresh narrated his journey at the recently held Anifest India 2009. "Animation has come a long way since the 90's. Yet, an oft-asked question is 'Where is the market?' Ad films remain our bread and butter."
Suresh has 12 years of experience in the field and established Famous House of Animation in 1998 to do the "kind of work I stand for". His studio does 2D, 3D animation, claymation and stop motion and boasts of a wide ranging portfolio including an award-winning commercial for Sulekha.com.
A close circle of Suresh's friends - including Vaibhav Kumaresh and Geethanjali Rao - put together a pilot for a 2D animation concept, Shivaji, in the early 90's, but failed to excite broadcasters. "No one was interested in indigenous content then. Even today a 'made in India' animation series is expensive when compared to the cost of acquiring and dubbing a foreign animation series. We failed miserably in the market," he recalled.
Things changed after 2000 as Channel V adopted Vaibhav Kumaresh's hilarious animated character Simpu for its promos. Suddenly, animation became a part of the pop culture in India, an easy way for music channels to break the clutter and engage with the younger audience.
But approvals for TV series were still hard to come by. Suresh's creative team racked their brains, coming up with concept after concept, remodeling the existing ones to match the client's needs. At a point he felt that there was "no way good content could be shown in India". Meanwhile Famous House of Animation became one of the preferred studios for advertisements and did a surfeit of ads including those for Happydent, Spice Telecom, Big Babool and many others.
On being asked about the two major qualities for an animator, Suresh quipped, "perseverance and patience". His studio is right now working on a gag based 3D animated series Neki & Pooch Pooch, starring a dumb elephant and a smart rat.
In parting advice, Suresh said, "We hear usual words about the audience not being ready for animation. What we need today is to find an animation style equivalent to that of Bollywood. The stories we tell must find an audience in the masses of India and not just within the animation community."
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