Animation from India: a critical look for furry fans – by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Sent in by Fred:

“Dear Patch- Are you interested in samples of recent Indian anthropomorphic TV commercials?  Most are in Hindi or a combination of Hindi & English.”

“Hi Fred- I suspect that this work doesn’t get much traction in the USA, and there are few furry fans caring about animation specific to India.  Besides, I think that you can run into a common bias:  people are unhappy with the glut of generic CGI style animation and they like seeing traditional drawn art.  That’s a bias from young people in art school, North American fans with strong nostalgia for older cartoons… and cheap overseas work making it harder to produce.   I just wanted to put it out, that bias is there.  I’m sure some good work may be missed because of it, but I haven’t seen a lot from India, even at film festivals that actively curate obscure stuff.  I DO like focus on animation – the stuff I post is very creator-centric.  But if you include such material in a broad topic, that’s a way to share it. – Patch”

romeoReaders: is this story missing good work by not giving it a chance?  There are a few furry fans for the Bollywood animated movie Roadside Romeo.  One blog calls it the ultimate furry movie, highlighting “how unapologetically sexy it was for a talking animal movie” (A good or bad thing? Up to you.)  One furry on a “foreign animated animal movies” topic calls the movie “actually REALLY good”:


What’s Wrong With Indian Animation?– by Fred Patten

From the point of view of furry fandom, they don’t have any anthropomorphic stars.

That became clear this afternoon (November 19th), when India’s Animation Xpress announced that Vaibhav Studios of Mumbai had just created two CGI animated TV commercials (in Hindi) for Centre Fruit Xplode candy gum, with juicy orange and lemon flavors. “One of contemporary India’s finest animation companies, Vaibhav Studios and independent music producer, composer and multiple award winning musician Roto Shah, recently collaborated on a new animated commercial for ‘Centre Fruit Xplode’.

Vaibhav Studios was commissioned by none other than international adv’t agency giant Ogilvy & Mather, headquartered in Manhattan and with 450 offices in 161 cities worldwide. Its Indian client “wanted the entire campaign for the launch of the new brand Centre Fruit Xplode to have an animated twist”, so O&M went naturally to Vaibhav Studios, which has a reputation for creating CGI animated TV commercials. Vaibhav Studios took it from there, writing and designing the two TV commercials with the anthro orange and lemon.

The Animation Xpress article (a disguised press release) gushes about how Vaibhav Studios’ founder Vaibhav Kumaresh goes into detail about how the two commercials were made. But the two commercials speak for themselves.

Yep, they’re an anthro orange & lemon, all right. But considering how they go SPLAT!, they’re not likely to have any lasting popular appeal.

Most of Vaibhav’s TV commercials are like this. Take the TV spots for Fevicol adhesive, starring two friendly elephants. These have been going for some time; but again, the elephants have no life beyond Fevicol’s advertisements.

Even Vaibhav’s animated programming that contains anthro animals is not particularly memorable, because those animals don’t exist beyond the TV program or movie. Here’s one; commercial in English for the Hindi movie.

In fact, Vaibhav Studios has created an English-language website and is recruiting North American animators, if you know any that will move to Mumbai.

That’s not such a bad idea, considering that Prana Studios, who did the CGI animation for Disney’s Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue under a Disney subcontract, and Disney’s Tinker Bell direct-to-DVD releases, are also in Mumbai.

All kidding aside, India just does not have any long-lasting anthro animal stars. What theatrical animated features starring anthro animals has India had? Roadside Romeo – a lot of furry fans may love it, but it bombed so badly at the Indian box office that it set all Indian theatrical animation back several years. You definitely have not heard about Romeo and Leila coming back for any sequels.

Delhi Safari did better at the Indian box office; but again, none of its anthro animals went on to any life beyond the movie. Besides, it’s too ecology-preachy.

The only Indian anthro animal who’s popular beyond a single feature is Jaggu the talking blue monkey; and he’s only a very minor sidekick in the Chhota Bheem movies & TV cartoons & comic books starring the human super-8-year-old – which are not translated; they’re all in Hindi.

I don’t count the Hindu gods who have starred in numerous Indian animated religious movies, like elephant-headed Ganesha or monkey-headed Hanuman.

If I have missed any, please tell me. But I don’t think so. Disney has been aggressively pouring all of its animation into India, so the Indians are getting so much Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck that they don’t feel any need to develop their own anthro animal characters. That’s too bad, because India is such a large country, with the potential to have very intriguing anthro animal characters of its own.

Oh, well. At least we know that we’re not missing anything. Fred Patten