Animation films in Hollywood have prominently featured voiceovers by celebrities like Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, but this is not the case with Bollywood. Animation filmmaker Rajiv Chilaka, best known for giving life to ‘desi’ characters like Chhota Bheem and Mighty Raju, says there needs to be a "continuous effort" to rope in celebrities into this space.
"I feel there has not been a continuous effort to feature celebrities as voiceovers for animated toons (in India)," Chilaka, who runs animation company Green Gold Animation, said.
While films like Mahabharat, Kochadaiiyaan and Chaar Sahibzaade have featured voices of stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth in the past few years, apart from Roadside Romeo and Delhi Safari, Chilaka believes there has not been a conscious effort to rope in celebrities regularly as animation is not essentially considered feasible by many Indian filmmakers and production banners.
"Animation industry is on the rise in India. We have seen a huge growth of animated shows in television over the past few years, which proves that there is a hunger for animated programs. But for the large format (movies), there is still a huge gap in terms of content and technique," he said.
"I also feel that production houses are playing safe rather than taking the risk and exploring more," added Chilaka, who last directed Chhota Bheem-Himalayan Adventure for the silver screen.
He pointed out that while "the overall method of making the animation movie is similar to the regular one in terms of story, script and music… In animation, one requires skill-set through an animator in creating every frame with the help of software and technology".
"It takes more effort and time to make an animation movie. ‘Chhota Bheem – Himalayan Adventure’ was made with the help of 325 animators and took 18 months," he said.
But as a filmmaker, the world of animation is liberating for Chilaka.
"Since ours is targeted to children, we have to follow (the rules) and ensure that our content is apt for them. The biggest advantage is that you have the freedom to create things which otherwise might not exist, and this is also the challenge for the animator."
Indian mythology has been a source of inspiration for his work many a times, so are there any plans to give life to any other character?
"‘Chhota Bheem’, ‘Krishna Balram’ and ‘Arjun – Prince of Bali’ are all characters inspired from our great epics and have been my personal favourites.
"I am working on a few concepts which might have some inspirations, but it is too early to comment. Having said that, we are committed to creating and focusing on Indian content which will be packed with fun and excitement and add value to the viewers."