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Updated: July 9, 2012 18:11 IST

Folklore and action

K. JESHI
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Swami Ayyappan packs fantasy, adventure, mythology and history in 75 minutes

The story of Manikandan, the boy who went on to be worshipped as Ayyappan, is set to become an animation film. Swami Ayyappan, the 75-minute film is co-produced by Thiruvananthapuram-based Toonz Animation India and Animagic from Mumbai.

“We wanted to tell the story of Ayyappan,” says P. Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz.

Focus on secularism

The film will be released in all South Indian languages and English. It has been shot in HD format to make it suitable for a theatrical release too. “We haven’t taken any liberties with the story. It will highlight religious tolerance and secularism,” he says.

The film will premiere on national TV channels. Romeo RajaToonpur Ka Superhero,AvatarFinding Nemo Happy Feet“For small-budget animation films, the real commercial opportunity lies in the TV segment.”

Writer Mahesh Vettiyar, who also directs the film, comes from Mavelikkara (Kerala), very close to Pandalam, where the story of Ayyappan unfolds. “My interactions with people above 85 years who have lived in Pandalam opened up a lot of untold mysteries. As in the case of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, one can draw many interpretations from this story too,” he says.

The folklore is replete with stories of black magic and plots to kill Manikandan. “As, we go deeper, there are more mysteries. But, we have focussed on fantasy and adventure. We haven’t tampered with the original story.”

The film begins with Pandalam Raja’s wish to have a child and concludes with the child turning 14 and going to Sabarimala.

The story behind the 41-day fast Ayyappan devotees observe, the origin of the name ‘Kadakara Palli’ (the fort where Vavar, the invader from Turkey and Afghanistan, is believed to have settled down), and the friendship between Ayyappan and Vavar, and with a Christian family in Mavelikkara during the war are some of the highlights of the movie.

Mahesh says mythological themes work better in animation, as it gives freedom to experiment. “We have blended fantasy, adventure, myth and history. There are six songs too.”

Stories with value

The visual script is by Animagic. Says Chetan Sharma, CEO, Animagic: “In India, mythology lends itself to fantasy and magic. There are some stories that have great value and need to be told. In Swami Ayyappan, mythology and history collide. There are asuras, devas, rakshsaas, bandits and friends in the story about the child.”

Keywords: Animation films

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