Tuesday, February 19

Throwback Thursday: THIS is India’s first animation movie!


The Indian animation industry, however, has taken great leaps forward, working for some of the biggest movies being made in Hollywood. But do you know how it started?

India witnessed the release of its first animated movie in colour titled ‘The Banyan Deer’ in the year 1957.

Banyan Deer’ is based on a Buddhist Jataka story. Made in the cartoon technique, it illustrates how self-immolation can bring about change in human outlook from violence to non-violence.

How it started?

In 1956, Disney Studios animator Clair Weeks, who had worked on Bambi, was invited to Films Division of India in Mumbai to establish and train the country’s first animation studio as part of the American technical co-operation mission.

He trained a core group of Indian animators, whose first production was a film called ‘The Banyan Deer’ in 1957. Veteran animator Ram Mohan started his career at Films Division’s Cartoon Unit.

Check out some of the storyboard images released:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Who took the mammoth task?

Animation Resources had released some breathtaking photographs and images depicting the making of the film.

A team of film professionals and animators including women artists undertook the mammoth task of conceptualizing, storyboarding and animating the movie.

According to media reports, there were some fascinating pictures of the team who painstakingly worked on the sketches, including a photo of two unnamed women.


Photo Courtesy — AnimationResources.org

Though the movie is often hailed as the country’s very first animated movie, it’s only partly true. Hand-drawn, black and white movies had been made using elementary animation techniques in the earlier decades, such as The Pea Brothers by Gunamoy Banerjee and Jambu Kaka by Raghunath K Kelkar both released in 1934, Superman’s Myth (1939) by renowned animator and filmmaker GK Gokhale and Jumbo the Fox (1951) by Ranjit Movietone.

What is the story?

The Jatakas are ancient tales, narrated to present the teachings of Gautam Buddha in a simplified manner.

In this particular story, the banyan deer is a golden deer and the leader of his herd who steps into the execution altar to save a mother deer from being sacrificed for a human king who loves to hunt. His compassion pleases the king, who not only lets the banyan deer go but also spares the lives of all the deer.

The FDI chose this particular story of the movie, perhaps in keeping with the moral values inherent in the story.

The release of The Banyan Deer marked a new era for animation in Indian cinema!