With a Swarna Kamal for the debut animation attempt in her kitty, Sridevi Venky Babu is on cloud nine

“The recognition is thrilling,” smiles Sridevi. The husband and wife team of Sridevi and Venky Babu is still revelling in the joy of having received the ‘Swarna Kamal’ for Best Animated Feature for their maiden production, Inimey Naangathan (V4) from the President, at the recent 55th National Film Awards, 2007. Her husband Venky Babu is the creative head, completely in charge of the technical side of their Mayabimbham Multimedia, while Sridevi is its line producer and project co-ordinator. “Ours is a small, self-funding studio with a 25-member team,” she says.

Original characters

Mayabimbham doesn’t believe in making stories with established animated characters from the West. Neither is it keen on drawing from our epics. “Instead we wish to create several new characters and have an exclusive library of Mayabimbham’s original characters,” she explains.

V4 is a 3D animated film with names of the four main lead players beginning with the letter ‘V’ (that explains V4). The roles are drawn from real life, and the film comes with a message.

“We felt that the originality of the theme and the freshness of the characters would capture attention,” she says. And it has!

The citation for the award reads: ‘... For creating endearing characters who with their breathtaking quixotic antics, battle the evil force of greed in a refreshingly new manner. For taking animation in a new direction …’

Yet despite its deviation from the norm, it wasn’t as though animation lovers lapped up V4. “As I told you, ours is a small, up and coming enterprise. It may not have been a hit but the returns weren’t disappointing either. In fact, in the B and C centres we had repeat audience because an animation film in their native tongue was new to them — regular toon treats of the West are hardly known in the interior parts of the States. Zee Tamizh, Telugu and Kannada have telecast V4 more than once and every time the ratings have been tremendous. Soon the Hindi version will be telecast. “That’s a great advantage in animation. It can be easily dubbed into various languages,” she explains.

More awards

Quite recently Inimey Naangathan won the Best Animation Music Award at the Golden Cursor Animation Awards 2008, initiated by CNBC TV18 and Arena Multimedia, and was also recognised and awarded by Tokyo Broadcasting Society, Japan, at Digicon 6+. The composer was Ilaiyaraja and the film had four songs.

“Though composing for an animation feature wasn’t new to him, [He had earlier done Pentamedia’s ‘Pandavas’] he was very excited about our project and gave us excellent music,” says Sridevi.

V4 was made in a period of 12 to 15 months. “But Puratchi Thalaivan, our next, also a 3D animated feature starring MGR, is taking a little longer. It should be out on January 17, 2011,” she informs.

Thus the Tamil animation arena is buzzing with activity, what with Rajini ( Sultan the Warrior) and MGR gearing up with gusto!