Sanskrit has been heard many times on the silver screen, but never in an animation. ‘Punyakoti’ is an attempt at a full length 2D animated film in Sanskrit language. Crowdsourced on Wishberry, the film is Indian cinema’s first attempt to bring together Sanskrit and animation. The story of the film is based on a beloved folksong from South India.
The film team boasts of names such as former Infosys Director Mohandas Pai, well-known actress Revathi Tamil, music composer Ilaiyaraja, national award winning editor Manoj Kannath, Karnataka’s first woman IPS officer Jija Hari Singh, and celebrated puppeteers Anupama amd Vidyashankar Hoskere.
Originally, Punyakoti is a popular folksong in South India that sings about an honest cow. Based on that, the plot of the movie is set in Karunadu, where resides a cow that speaks the truth. One day, when a tiger attacks the cow Punyakoti in the forest, she beseeches him to let her go, so she can feed her calf. She promises to return later. When she returns later, the tiger is moved by her honesty and lets her go.
The story of this honest cow is originally found in an episode in the epic Mahabharata. Ravishankar, the writer and director of the film says, “The messages of leading a life of integrity against all odds and living in harmony with nature are very relevant for our times.”
The making of this film is bringing together not just talents from art and music, but also media and IT. “We are fortunate to be supported by some of the best talents in the industry. Most of the team members in the core team have been pioneers of the Indian Animation Industry when it took shape 20 years back,” he adds.
The voice of Punyakoti has been given by renowned actor and director, Revathi. The dubbing is being monitored by Professor S.R. Leela. An accomplished filmmaker, Leela has 40 years of experience in Sanskrit Drama and Literature. The team also includes Anupama Hosakere and Vidyashakar Hosakere, who have been reviving traditional puppetry. Other exponents of traditional storytelling in Sanskrit and folk traditions are also supporting the project.
Ravishankar is a multimedia expert with over 20 years of experience in making content for children. Presently employed with Infosys, he says he was motivated to do a project like this to spread the message of embracing nature.
“God has been kind to me and has given me everything. I want to use this life for a purpose more than just plain survival. I have chosen Punyakoti as a means of self-expression to tell the story of living in harmony with nature. I hope to take this universal message across the world through this effort,” he says.
The writer-director, who started making this film as a passion project, has brought together several animation experts from all over the country to put together this innovative experiment in Indian cinema. In fact, some of the animators are working on a pro bono basis without expecting a salary, just to support the project. Currently, crowdfunding a total of INR 76 lakhs, the film has raised INR 61 lakhs so far. Almost 450 people are backing the project. Prospective supporters can invest in the movie on Wishberry here.