Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Punyakoti and Baahubali - no comparison

I am as excited as anyone of the many viewers about the screen magic created by Baahubali, when the sequel arrived. As a small time independent apologetic animated film-maker, I was in awe of the whole project and the way it was executed. While I know it will be audacious to compare Baahubali with Punyakoti, here are somethings that I could relate to, which intelligent producers and investors seek that were common to both projects.

1. Do something that someone has not tried before. This is what SSR set out to do. A movie that will take 6 hours to tell in two parts with a myraid assembly of characters, settings and a plot that is not easy to deliver by others. Punyakoti is a tiny replica of that. Tell a Sanskrit story in animation that a lot of people can watch and enjoy set in another time and something people can relate through from different generations.

2. Mythology and Fantasy are always the big grossers. Right from Avatar to Baahubali, people like to take a mental vacation to another world and their souls be taken on a journey of the win of dharma. The essential thread of both movies Baahubali and Punyakoti are the same. By the way, Dharma refers to thread. If Mahismati was the canvas for Baahubali, a tiny hamlet called Karunadu is the background for Punyakoti. And it is the story of the re-establishment of Dharma (dharmo rakshati rakshitah)

3. Integrity is everything. In an interview, Suhasini asked SSR how he influenced a producer to part with a big budget. SSR's answer is a lesson for every budding director. He said that the producer had seen him from the first film and knew that he would deliver. So it was not any marketing gimmick but plain trust that was honoured before that people want to invest in. People want to see your intentions and you have to be at it everytime. If what we have seen of Punyakoti is any indication, this has been proven many times. This is what Anshulika saw when we went and asked to be put up in their platform when we sought 40 lakhs - something that no one had tried before. This is what gave me the confidence to go to some of the legends in the industry and seek their support. And that is what made them invest their talent with me without any considerations. When I recently met a big producer, he remarked, "We knew about your movie and we were waiting to see when you will give up." And when he saw that we would go on even when funds dried up, he decided to support us.

5. Judge a movie by its Pre-production standards. Being an animated movie, we spent a lot of time designing every shot as we could not afford to lose money. I met one of the pre-production designers of Baahubali and showed him the work we had done for Punyakoti. He remarked, "you have done what we did for a 400 crore movie for a 40 lakh movie." That was a compliment to my entire team.

6. It is always more than the movie. SSR's classic has panned out into a full franchise with infinte possibilities. A movie that lends itself to such great possibilities will always be more lucrative than just another movie. Punyakoti lends itself to a whole lot of franchises.

7. Leaders dig into an unexpressed need of the times and bring it out. No one in the industry was asking for a Baahubali. If anything if the idea was to be discussed, they would be talking about how it will not work. But leaders have a gut feel, a hunch that works out in the end. That is how it was for the team. If the reception of Punyakoti so far is any indication, I feel my gut feel is right.

8. Think beyond regional constraints. Bahubali was treated as a Pan-Indian mtovie but retained a certain ethnicity that other cultures within India and abroad could appreciate as native. Punyakoti will have a similar treatment as well.

Irrespective of where the journey of Punyakoti takes me, I remain committed that it has to be a sincere and pure effort.

(Punyakoti is the first Sanskrit Animated feature film with music by Sri.Ilaiyaraaja and actor Revathi playing the main role. It is now in Post production and is looking for distribution/finishing funds).