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Heading for the Oscars

THE FILM "Alibaba and 40 Thieves", made by Chennai based Pentamedia, is a story told many times — but is finding new life through the animated version made here. The film is now being screened along with six other animation films for a nomination to the Oscars.

In 3-D with the latest motion picture technology and music composed by Pravin Mani from Canada, it has been sold to Universal Studios worldwide. A venture planned and executed in a period of nine months, the voice-overs were first done and then the digital images and characters were made to fit in with the sound.

How is it that with such severe competition worldwide Pentamedia has gone so much into the making of animated features? Says Sumathi Sridharan, vice-president, Operations, "We find that we have the talent and the creativity to do a really world class job. We would like to promote the content that is available in the south Asian context and create more job opportunities for software professionals who may not find too many avenues, with the slump in recent times. Drawing them into the entertainment industry could be very rewarding. Even though they possibly could not have the budgets that, say a Walt Disney may have, this one was done at a cost of $12 million from concept to completion. And since our product is good we looked at the international market and found that it had its appeal there," says Sumathi.

The whole thing is completely computer generated and we are also planning two other features, "Son of Allaudin" and "Buddha". We are looking at a summer release in the U.S. for the former. "Buddha" is a 2 D animated film, with most of the work done in Manila, Singapore and India.

According to Riaz Babu, one of the technical persons, the domestic market in the U.S. appreciates animated films and says they can produce the same quality as in the U.S. provided we have the same kind of budgets.

Most of the post-production work for "Alibaba" was done at Toronto, Canada, because they didn't want an American feel for the film. "And also because Pravin Mani is based in Toronto,'' adds Sumathi. "We really hope it makes it to the Oscars. It will truly be a proud moment for India."


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