animation films

‘Hanuman Da Damdaar’ has Salman Khan, animation, songs and a big-budget feel

The film positions the monkey god as a superhero.

There has been a profusion of films and television shows on Hanuman’s exploits, including VG Samant’s Hanuman (2005). Ruchi Narain’s Hanuman Da Damdaar is the latest addition to the list. The June 2 release focuses on the monkey god’s childhood and traces his evolution into a divine force. The voice cast includes Javed Akhtar as Valmiki, Salman Khan as Hanuman, Raveena Tandon and Saurabh Shukla as Hanuman’s parents, Kunal Khemmu as Indra and Hussain Dalal as Garuda.

Narain made her big screen debut as a screenwriter on Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi in 2003 and her directorial debut with the crime thriller Kal : Yesterday And Tomorrow in 2005. After directing commercials for 12 years, Narain has chosen to make her comeback with a family-oriented animated film. Animation gives greater opportunities for creativity, she told in an interview.

What drew you to animation?
I have grown up watching animation films. They trigger your imagination more than any other medium. The kind of scope they give cannot be expected in any live action film. You can stretch the script of an animation film to fantastical levels. In live action, however, you are bound by the physical possibility of things.

How different was the experience in terms of the production?
If I knew how hard it was going to be, I may have thought twice about it. The medium is very different because everything is deliberate. In live action, you cast the actors and put them before a camera, and sometimes magic happens. But in animation, you have to make that magic happen.

Having said that, we did have a ball filming. Our only rule was that the line we literally fell off our seats listening and laughing to would go into the film.

Hanuman Da Damdaar.

Why did you choose Hanuman from all the Hindu gods?
In my mind and in my research, there was very little material on him, especially when he was a kid. As a writer and as a thinker, I would often wonder what would make someone so loyal. Nobody has the unwavering loyalty that Hanuman has. To be that loyal, you need a lot of conviction and strength in the face of opposition.

Usually when someone is all powerful, they tend to become the be all and end all. But Hanuman isn’t. And in today’s world, I found this personality to be even more fascinating. Nothing is about doing something for someone else or for a greater good anymore. It is a very relevant quality to remember.

There have been many films about Hanuman. What makes ‘Hanuman Da Damdaar’ stand out?
The story and the treatment of Hanuman Da Damdaar make the film different. There is a popular mainstream treatment. For instance, there is the song Confusion , which has been choreographed by Mudassar Khan. He got his crew to dance the sequence, which we then edited and gave to the animators. We have approached the production like a big feature film.

The trailer has many pop culture references, such as Salman Khan’s dialogue from ‘Wanted’.
Whatever you say, people associate Salman Khan with Hanuman because of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. There are certain lines in his films that you tend associate with Hanuman. The “Ek baar jo commitment kar di” line, in essence, also works very well for Hanuman. The meaning of the line echoes loyalty.

I wanted to tell a story in a way that people today can relate to. Also, in terms of language, there is a way we are used to seeing these stories depicted – which is very stuffy and highfalutin. What is made in your time needs to speak to you in your language. Language has to reflect and communicate with the people that you are making it for.

Ruchi Narain.
Ruchi Narain.

How did you select the voice cast?
In those days, narrators used to tell the stories and not write them. By virtue of the fact that the Ramayana was so widely transmitted, Valmiki must have been a great narrator. And I thought to myself, who is the greatest narrator in our industry? It had to be Javed Akthar.

Raveena Tandon has been someone who has worn her motherhood on her sleeve, which was perfect for Anjani’s role. And of course anyone would first think of Salman Khan for the role of Hanuman.

Sneha Khanwalkar, who has scored the film, has worked with you in ‘Kal’.
Sneha’s first feature film was with me, and I have always loved the way she thinks about music. While she is known for composing darker, edgier music, I wanted her for this film because her approach towards music is utterly unique.

Did you want to portray Hanuman as a superhero for children?
Yes, definitely. When you go to any kid’s fancy dress event, you see them all come dressed up as superheroes like Batman and Superman. Not one Indian character features in the lot. I want to be in a situation this time next year, where children would be dressed as Hanuman.

How strong is the market for children’s films, especially animation, in India?
I have a very different take on the notion of what a children’s film is. What ends up happening is that when children are cast in a film, people think it’s a children’s film. But a children’s film is something that is entertaining. In India, more children watch blockbusters because they are funny.

Are there more animation films in the pipeline for you?
Another animation film is definitely in the pipeline. Meanwhile, I am currently working on two films. One is a love story titled From A to Z, which is written and directed by me. The other film is a big-budget comedy, which will be produced by R.A.T. Films, my joint production venture with Ashutosh Shah and Taher Mithaiwala.

The Maa song from Hanuman Da Damdaar.
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.