Punyakoti, India’s first Sanskrit film, will impart crucial life lessons with the help of a holy cow. Veteran music director Ilaiyaraaja will be giving the music score and 30 independent animators are working on the project simultaneously. Here’s all you need to know.
Ravi Shankar, an HR consultant from Infosys, had no idea about Sanskrit two years ago. But today, he is making an entire Sanskrit animation film, probably the first of its kind in India.
A 10-week long Spoken Sanskrit course organised by Infosys gave a new goal to Shankar, who was always keen on writing stories. He has written several books on short stories which he gives to charity.
A short book on folk songs inspired this multimedia expert to convert it into a Sanskrit animation film. And there was no looking back.
“I thought how to frugal make animation and convey the stories in an interesting way. As Sanskrit is not a very popular language and not many people know how to speak it, I thought that most people would not risk doing a project like this. The challenge inspired me to take the initiative further and that is how Punyakoti came into the picture,” says Shankar.
But a mere idea was not enough to bring this ambitious project to life. Shankar required animators and production houses to support the initiative. And since it was a unique concept, no single studio was ready to take it up.
Shankar then thought of doing the entire project on a freelance basis. He got 30 animators on board, who are now doing three minutes of animation each.
Each animator has a different style and interesting take on the story. This makes the project even more interesting as the story is the same but it has been animated in various unique styles.
“We experimented for about a year on different locations and styles. Though the script is of one single story, but every single scene is different from the other,” he says.
The story portrays man-animal conflict beautifully and shows how nature re-establishes itself. Punyakoti, the holy cow who is the central character of the story, takes the viewers on a journey of good and evil. We learn how man’s greed is destroying nature and how we can save it.
Though an animation film, Punyakoti is not just restricted to a children audience. The film has been made in a way that adults can relate to it too.
“Just because it is an animation movie does not mean it should be for kids only. One thing different about Punyakoti is that it’s not merely a children’s film. Children today enjoy all kinds of movies so why should animation movies not be of high quality?” says Shankar.
Having initially started with pitching in his personal money and with some help from friends and family, Shankar’s project was then supported by donations.
When asked why he decided to make a film in Sanskrit when the language is not spoken by a majority of the people, Shankar says, “My child watches Japanese and Spanish cartoons. Children are open to new things and they pick them up fast. Also, Sanskrit is easier to understand and relate to as many other languages are inspired from it,” he says.
Punyakoti’s core team of six members include some renowned names like Ilaiyaraaja who is giving music in the film.
Rakesh P Nair, designer of 2014 National Games mascot Ammu; Anvar Ali, renowned children’s writer and poet from Kerala and Manoj Kannoth, the National Award-winning editor of Veettilekkulla Vazhi, are also helping Shankar in his ambitious project. Various Sanskrit scholars are helping Shankar with the language.
“When such big names believe in my project and are supporting me, then I think I am on the right track. This keeps me going in spite of the many hurdles,” he says.
The movie is still work-in-progress and will be finished by 2016. The updates of the movie can be seen on their website.
The 100-minute film with 12 characters will need Rs. 5 crore to be made and the team is raising funds through crowd sourcing.
The movie will be released digitally but Shankar is open to all kinds of platforms, including broadcast and multimedia.
You could support the making of Punyakoti or contact Shankar to know more at – firstname.lastname@example.org