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Adventures of Tenali Raman

FIRST IT was the Ramayan. Now it is Tenali Raman. Cartoon Network has brought to the small screen the adventures of one of the most popular and best-loved characters of Indian history. What's more, this is the first time an Indian story is having a world premiere.

"The move is part of the network's localisation strategy for India," says Ian Diamond, senior vice-president and general manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Inc., who was in Chennai recently.

Talking about "The Adventures of Tenali Raman", the chirpy Diamond says, "Tenali Raman is the fourth locally produced animation specially designed for the Indian market. It has been produced by Thiruvananthapuram-based Toonz Animation Studios." The Liverpool-born Hong Kong-based Diamond believes that "India has a great potential, especially so since it has a great tradition and a wealth of stories that lend themselves to animation."

Diamond, whose favourite cartoon character is the Chuck Jones creation Marvin the Martian, has been with Turner Inc for nine years, overseeing and planning on-air design, Network identity and TCM, the classic movie channel when he's not listening to Bach, Debussy and the Spanish guitar. And like most Liverpudianu, he's proud of the Beatles.

Reacting to allegations that cartoons promote violence and do not offer much by way of educational value, Diamond argues, "I think that is not true. Tiny TV, an educative block on Cartoon Network aimed at pre-schoolers, has the highest rating." He adds, "Kids more often than not do not know what they want. It is for parents to act as arbitrators/ gatekeepers and keep a check on what their children watch."

He then goes on... "There's something for everybody in Cartoon Network... comedy, action, adventure, movies and myth. And the success lies in the presentation — good graphics, great scripts, colourful characters and catchy music." Diamond advocated a "dash of Vitamin C(artoons) for wholesome entertainment."

Coming back to the latest offering, the humorous tales of Tenali Raman are an interesting blend of history and fantasy, timeless and familiar to most Indians, who have grown up on a healthy diet of myth and history. And Cartoon Network is cashing in on that familiarity. The series will be aired every Saturday at 5.30 p.m. and Sunday at 2.00 p.m. The first episode was aired on June 14.

As for the forthcoming attractions on the network, one can watch out for "Stuart Little", "The Mummy", "Men In Black" and a new series of Spiderman. As for Indian themes, "Hanuman" is on the cards (slated for next year) along with "Alibaba" (a Pentamedia production) and "Chota Birbal", which will feature stories of Akbar and his court jester as children.


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