Saturday, May 26, 2012

Arjun: The Warrior Prince

Note 1: Forget your prejudice against Indian animation movies and give this movie a chance to delight you.

Note 2: Friends, Indian animation has arrived.

यतो धर्मः ततो जय 
Where there is truth, there is victory

These are the lines with which 'Arjun: The Warrior Prince' opens. To me, this is not so much the beginning of the movie as it is the beginning of a new era for animated movies conceived and produced in India. I have my problems with the movie, but I am willing to overlook them for the sheer joy and the hope that this movie gives me about the future of the indigenous animation industry.

Before anything else, I want to applaud the voice acting. It does NOT sound like the gibberish we resort to when talking to 3-year-olds (or how the shows sound like on Cartoon Network today). It sounds like an adult conversation, and that is a big breakthrough. The kids deserve it. Also, it tells us that the people making these movies are taking this genre seriously, and are not making it just for kids.

The animation style and quality is reminiscent of the 90s Disney movies (incidentally, Disney has co-produced this movie), and it is a good thing. The movie is no 'Wall-E', neither does it claim to be. But it is an important step in the right direction. That we are getting there, slow and steady. The animation succeeds in striking the audience with awe and grandeur, to an audience largely fed on Hollywood. And this, is a HUGE achievement. The character design is brilliant for most of the characters, especially Bheesma Pitamah, Dhritrashtra, Duryodhan, and Draupadi. Few could have been better though, like Shakuni mama.

The story is NOT (the slightest bit) faithful to the Mahabharat, which is simultaneously the story's strength and weakness. How do you make an engaging 90-minute animation movie about the HUGE epic, the Mahabharat? Simple, you don't. You assess what you would be capable of doing, and you execute it well.

They have re-imagined and re-interpreted Arjun's story, and told it well. The narrative-twist after intermission is brilliant, to say the least. The facts are not wrong because of bad research, but because the director wanted to tell a good story. Hence it doesn't matter if he isn't faithful to the source material, as long as the idea is conveyed. Why this makes me happy is because the film-makers were bold enough to re-imagine something like Mahabharat, knowing that they were being true to their art. And I applaud them for it.

The music, especially during the war sequences, is grand, epic, and Indian. And I loved it. So much that I'd buy the OST if it were made available.

This movie deserves to be seen, and I would say that it should every parent's responsibility to take their kids for this one. If this movie succeeds, I can be sure that we would be churning out top-notch animation from our country soon enough. I think this movie would give the producers the confidence to invest and ramp-up the budget for making such and better animated movies.

One thing though, which didn't work for me - they shouldn't have added "The Warrior Prince" to the title.

Arjun: The Warrior Prince...