The film in Sanskrit, he says, is aimed to help animators and technicians who have been affected by the pandemic.
A Kannada folktale, the heart-warming story of an honest cow named Punyakoti, moved Ravishankar Venkateswaran to tears. “My colleague Umesh Karanth told me the story on a bus ride,” says the HR professional-turned-filmmaker.When Punyakoti is trapped by a hungry tiger, Arbhuta, she pleads with her captor to be allowed to feed her calf. Arbhuta relents, on the condition that she return. When Punyakoti sticks to her word, the ashamed tiger sets her free and jumps off a cliff. Drawn to this tale’s larger issue, that of the conflict between man and Nature, Ravishankar adapted it into the first Sanskrit language animated feature, Punyakoti, which released on Netflix earlier this year after opting to skip theatres due to COVID-19. Now, Ravishankar says that he is building on the film’s success — it won three awards at the Animation Xpress’ ANN Awards and garnered over a million views — and has helped conceptualise a sequel titled Punyakoti 2.0 with actor Revathi. Edited excerpts:What is your role in Punyakoti 2.0? I only have a mentoring role. Punyakoti 2.0 is my friend Girish AV’s idea. The sequel will help animators and technicians who have been affected by the pandemic.
My associates, Sneha Ravishankar, Sindhu SK, Rohit Sower, Manoj Kannoth, Prasad TJ, Robin Kunjukutty and Shruthi Bopaiah are handling the production. Revathi has been kind enough to be associated as a co-director. The idea behind the original was to promote Sanskrit. The sequel, however, is in Hindi and other regional languages… The Sanskrit version was my dream project. I did not want to make any changes to it. The sequel is for the artistes and technicians who worked on Punyakoti and is meant for a wider audience. Ilaiyaraaja scored music for the first film. Who is composing for the sequel? This time we plan to support folk musicians and experiment with native genres of music. There will also be surprises for people. Could you tell us about the sequel’s plot? We plan to start with a recap of the first movie. The sequel focusses on Punyakoti’s daughter, Lakshmi, and the cowherd Kalinga’s son, Putta, who are childhood friends.A flood sweeps through the village and the villagers seek shelter at a temple. Lakshmi and Putta realise the flood is due to the mistakes of the older generation who ignored the balance between human beings and the wild. When will the film release? Production on the 90-minute animation film is progressing well in Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Mumbai. We are looking at a 2021 release. Nearly 30 animators are involved in the project. Revathi, who did the voice-over for the original film, says she is happy to be associated with Punyakoti 2.0. “The original was a novelty and I wanted to support it. Learning Sanskrit was fun,” she says, adding, “When Ravi and his team floated the idea of a sequel to support artistes and technicians, I wanted to do my bit. Animation is ideal in these times as you don’t need outdoor shooting. Doing an animation feature film is a new experience for me and I am enjoying it.”