Courtesy : Cinestan Film Company
The situation with acceptance of animated films in India has been rather twisted over the years and it is barely changing recently. The genre is style perceived by many as only for the kids and across al age groups. Local animation features in India have certainly faced a real battle in gaining acceptance and in such a scenario, director Gitanjali Rao talked about carving her own identity and managing to arrive on the map.
After her 2006 feature, Printed Rainbow, Rao presented a short film called True Story in 2014, which in fact, formed the basis for her recent and debut animated feature, Bombay Rose.
Representing Indian folk-art, "It's like hand embroidery as opposed to machine-made clothes," Rao tells The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "Hand-painted animation is like a painting which has a longer life. In fact, some Oscar-nominated films have been hand-painted such as Persopolis and Waltz With Bashir."
As the first Indian animation feature to open the Venice festival's Critic’s Week, Bombay Rose has traveled to Toronto, London and Busan, among other festivals, while garnering critical acclaim, ahead of its India premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival.
The Mumbai-set film revolves around the inter-faith love between working-class Hindu girl Kamala, who makes flower garlands to sell on the streets, and Salim, a Muslim youth.
Rao calls the film "an ironical tribute" to Bollywood "in that it takes a lot from Bollywood in terms of how it influences the migrant youth in love, but its not a tribute with a happy ending - because the opposite happens. The film criticizes the patriarchial mindset prevalent in Indian society."
A parallel story about an old woman also tips the hat to one of Indian cinema's iconic figures, the late Guru Dutt who flourished in the fifties and sixties "when Indian cinema was not termed Bollywood."
The film was produced by India-UK based Cinestaan Film Company, backed by leading Indian industrialist Anand Mahindra, along with veteran French banner Les Film d’Ici whose credits include Waltz With Bashir. The animation was done at Mumbai-based PaperBoat Animation Studios where a team of over 100 computer animators painted a million frames.
"The production involved 18 months of work and for a 93-minute film it is quite a feat," says Rao pointing that India has "a huge talent pool in 2D animation which is far better than in any other country because of its a very labor-intensive process." As Bombay Rose gets set for its homecoming in the city that inspired the film, Rao says, "I hope Mumbai and other Indian festivals will give us a feeling of how we can take this forward in terms of assessing the film's theatrical potential."