Bollywood is known for churning out thousands of movies per year. Each region in India has its ecosystem for producing films and its audience as well. The realm of Indian cinema has undergone a remarkable evolution since its inception, with animation emerging as a transformative force that has enriched storytelling, expanded visual horizons, and captivated audiences across the nation. “From its humble beginnings to its contemporary stature, the journey of animation in Indian cinema is a fascinating tale of creativity, innovation, and technological advancements”, shares Romil Ramgarhia.

The seeds of animation were sown in India as far back as the early 20th century, when pioneers like Dadasaheb Phalke, hailed as the "Father of Indian cinema," experimented with stop-motion animation techniques in their films. These initial endeavors, marked by rudimentary techniques and limited resources, laid the groundwork for what was to come. In 1957, India marked a significant milestone with the release of its inaugural color animated film, titled "The Banyan Deer."
However, it wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that Indian animation began to take significant strides. All 90’s children vividly remember the short animation "Ek Anek Aur Ekta" (One, Many, and Unity) produced by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) in 1974. It showcased the potential of animation to convey messages of unity and diversity to a diverse population. This marked the first notable instance of animation being used to communicate social values to a wider audience. It was highly popular and is still remembered today.
Fast forward to the present, and the landscape of animation in Indian cinema has transformed. Romil Ramgarhia, Ex COO of BARC India says, “The utilization of animation has expanded beyond educational and short films to mainstream commercial cinema, creating a potent blend of entertainment and artistic expression.” The recent advertisement of Ayushman Khurana in a mattress ad where he is shown as a child using AI shows that the industry is experimenting with new technology and it is being well received by the audience as well.
One of the landmark moments in the evolution of Indian animation was the release of the film "Hanuman" in 2005. This movie not only demonstrated the technical prowess of Indian animators but also proved the commercial viability of animated features in the Indian market. The film's success paved the way for a slew of animated films, both mythological and original, that enchanted audiences with their visual splendor and engaging narratives.
In recent years, Indian filmmakers have integrated animation with live-action sequences, resulting in an immersive cinematic experience. Movies like "Baahubali: The Beginning" (2015) and its sequel "Baahubali: The Conclusion" (2017) employed animation to create grandiose battle sequences, contributing to the film's epic scale and international appeal.
However, after some promising releases, the animation industry has not been able to make a mark globally. The most recent case was the much-anticipated film "Adipurush" which received flack for its novice animation prowess. While the movie garnered attention for its retelling of the epic Ramayana, it also brought to light the challenges that Indian filmmakers face in creating high-quality animated content. The film's promotional material showcased an ambitious visual style that aimed to blend live-action with animation, promising a unique and visually captivating experience. However, as the project progressed, it became evident that the execution of the animation fell short of expectations, with critics and audiences expressing disappointment over the lack of seamless integration between the live-action and animated elements. 

 “Even though there have been great strides in animation if compared to Disney, Pixar, etc. we are still far behind. With no dearth of talent and resources, we should be able to give tough competition to the west but a lot needs to be done. I hope that the next Pixar comes from India with continued push from the industry and the government.” shares Romil Ramgarhia 

Such instances reiterate the hurdles that Indian cinema encounters when attempting to produce sophisticated animation on a grand scale, emphasizing the need for further investment, technological advancement, and skill development in the field of animation to match the global standards achieved by other film industries.

Nevertheless, the journey of animation in Indian cinema has been marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation. From its modest beginnings as experimental techniques to its present-day position as a cornerstone of cinematic storytelling, animation has proven its ability to enhance narratives, mesmerize audiences, and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of Indian cinema. As technology continues to advance, the future holds even greater potential for Indian animation to reach new heights and leave an indelible mark on the global cinematic stage.
Disclaimer: This is a featured content