Having grown up reading the Amar Chitra Katha, Subha J Rao can’t wait to see a cinema version of one of its popular stories — Sons of Ram

After wowing young readers since 1967 with Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) and Tinkle (1980), ACK Animation Studios will now release its maiden feature film, Sons of Ram. The film, slated for a November 2 release, is about Luv and Kush, the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita.

As an added treat, a six-minute short film, Shambu and the Maneater, will be screened before the main film. Both films are directed by Kushal Ruia, studio head, ACK Animation.

Says Vijay Sampath, CEO, ACK Media, and executive producer of the film: “We started work on the film three years ago. It is part of a continuum. Many years ago, Uncle Pai created a major revolution by bringing mythological stories in comic form. We wanted to do something similar and relate to Gen X. It was time to look at a new dimension.”

ACK has already entered the animation space with short series on kids’ channels such as Cartoon Network and Disney Channel. They did a short film, Tripura, as well as the televised version of Karadi Tales.

“We have a rich library of mythological tales as well as iconic characters such as Suppandi, Shikari Shambu and Kalia. We wanted to use them in a contemporary format. We continue to be storytellers, only the medium has changed,” says Vijay.

The film, however, is not going to be a faithful retelling of how we remember Luv and Kush from the comics. Says Kushal: “Mythology is just a springboard, a great way to tell this story. We wanted to focus on the 12-year-old twins, their adventure, their relationship, their journey to Ayodhya.”

He continues: “After all, we are dealing with pre-teens. They surely have their conflicts. And, remember, they are twins, not the best of friends like we tend to think. We’ve portrayed Kush as more outgoing and brash in his decisions. Luv is the sobering influence, he thinks before doing anything. Kids will relate to these characters. We’ve not placed anyone on a pedestal. The characters are portrayed as a regular family.”

Though the story is ancient, it is still relevant to our times, says Vijay. “It is a good, clean, happy story. This is ACK in all its glory.”

Aditya Kapadia lends his voice for Luv, while Devansh Doshi does so for Kush. Saptarishi Ghosh is Ram’s voice. And, Sita, portrayed in the film, as a “young, smart mother” has voiceover by playback singer Sunidhi Chauhan. “There’s even a lovely ballad that she sings for Sita, ‘Wanting to be free’,” says Vijay.

The music by Gaurav Issar and Shailesh Rao is said to be a huge plus. Songs are a great element to take the story forward and we have used them well, say Vijay and Kushal.

The 90-minute film, made in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, will see an international release too. Pre-production and 2D animation were done by a Malaysian animation firm, Inspidea Studios, while the 3D stereoscopic conversion and VFX was by Maya Digital Studio, Mumbai. Cartoon Network is the production partner.

What would Uncle Pai have thought of the movie? “He knew about it. I think he would have liked what we have come up with,” says Vijay.

Ode to Shambu

All these years, you’ve known Shambu as the bumbling shikari who sets out to capture man-eaters. Now, with age, he’s become a forest ranger. And, the hunted. The man-eater is on the prowl, fork in hand and bib around neck, waiting to make a meal of Shambu. This short film is the first in the Shambu series. ACK is working on one featuring Suppandi too.