An untold story from Ramayana

Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Rajiv Chilaka, CEO and founder of Green Gold Animation talks about their upcoming film Hanuman vs Mahiravana, the challenges faced by Indian animation industry and more

When we think about the Ramayana, a few central characters like Rama, Laxmana, Sita, Hanuman and Ravana come to mind. But how many of us know about Mahiravana, who also played a significant role in the epic?

Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd, the makers of popular animated show Chhota Bheem, are ready with their upcoming animation film Hanuman vs Mahiravana. The film showcases Hanuman’s race against time to save Rama and Laxmana from the clutches of Mahiravana, the king of the underworld, an evil sorcerer and the brother of Ravana.

Rajiv Chilaka, CEO and founder of Green Gold Animation, is happy with the  response they have received for the trailer and says that the film is targeted at the family audience. Set to release on July 6, the film is directed by Dr Ezhil Vendan. 

Excerpts from an interview with Chilaka: 
Tell us about Hanuman vs Mahiravana...
It is a lesser-known story from the Ramayana. There are many subplots in the epic and some of those stories have never been told on the big screen. Mahiravana was Ravana’s stepbrother, who was the king of the Netherworld or Patala Lok. When Ravana lost all his brothers and most of his army in the battle, he approached Mahiravana for help to defeat Rama and his army.

A lot of people don’t know about Mahiravana. Why did you decide to take up his story?
The current generation of youngsters follows and loves the genre of mythology and fantasy movies and books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings etc. Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Norse mythological stories are quite popular amongst Indian youngsters. We wanted to bring to them interesting stories from Indian mythology and tell them in a visually fascinating way.

Mahiravana was a dark lord with immense magical powers. He used his powers to capture Rama and Laxmana and it was then up to Hanuman to rescue them before the next sunrise. So, it is an interesting and untold story from the Ramayana and has a lot of action, suspense and is set in the Netherworld.

How much time did it take to work on the film?
It took about 18 months to complete the movie. Green Gold was the main producer of the movie and we worked with artists and studios from five different countries — Japan, Mexico, Australia, USA, and India.

The film is releasing on June 22. By then, schools would have reopened. Wouldn’t summer vacation have been an ideal time?
The movie is targeted at family audiences and we feel teenagers who like Marvel type of movies too would love it. Even older people who know quite a lot about the Ramayana will find this movie and story quite entertaining.

When it comes to animation films, Indian makers stick to the stories about Hanuman, Krishna, Rama and Ganesha. Why can’t we come up with newer stories, like Hollywood?
I don’t know about others but when we set out to do this movie, we asked many people if they knew who Mahiravana was and actually very few people knew about him. The battle between him and Hanuman was a story worth telling to our audiences. 

What are the challenges that the Indian animation industry is facing, considering Hollywood animation films are really looked up to by the Indian audience?
The Indian animated films are perceived to be mainly for kids and very few older people see these movies. The box office earnings are lower, hence the producers are vary of making big budget animated movies here. 

How do you look at the growth of animation content on television?
Fifteen years ago, we had only a couple of kids TV channels. Now there are more than 25 such channels. Hence, there is a huge demand for interesting animation content. 

Apart from the TV channels, there are many OTT players such as Voot, Amazon Prime, Netflix etc which consume good animation content. This is definitely the golden period for animation content developers.

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