Dr Khusi Pattanayak

still from Ramayana The Legend of Prince Ram

If you are someone who went to watch Adipurush (Hindi, 2023) and returned disappointed, like millions of others, worry not, there are many other Indian mythological movies that have withstood the test of time and deserves to be watched at least once by any cinelover.

This list will present 5 animated mythological movies based on Indian epics that brings to life the rich tapestry of ancient Indian folklore and legends in a captivating and visually stunning manner reimagining the narratives from different perspective.
Sita Sings the Blues (English, 2008) – A personal favourite; this quirky feminist rendering of Ramayana is written, directed, produced and animated by Nina Paley. The movie draws parallels between Paley’s personal experience and goddess Sita’s life. The movie is a gentle reminder on how patriarchy has been mistreating women since the antiquity.

Hanuman (Hindi, 2005) – Hanuman has the distinction of being India’s first full-length animated feature film which got a theatrical released. The movie revolves around adventures of Lord Hanuman. It took 2 years for the movie to be completed and was lauded by everyone for its superior animation and background score.

Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (English, 1992) – The movie was meant to celebrate Indo-Japan friendship.  It took forever to get a release in India as it was mired in controversy with people insisting that gods cannot be toon-fied. Moreover, the release in India coincided with one of the most turbulent socio-political phases of 90s. Years later, it was finally aired on Doordarshan. Made at a budget of $ 6.7 million, this is one of the better animations available on Ramayana.

Ghatothkach, Master of Magic (Hindi, 2008) – The endearing Ghatothkach and his misadventures keeps one engaged in this musical despite a sloppy second half. The story is based on the character from Mahabharat who is the son of Bhima and Hidimba. Though the narration and animation were run-of-the-mill the film was appreciated for its entertainment quotient and soundtrack.

The Legend of Buddha (English, 2004) – The film was India’s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The narrative takes the audience on a journey from the birth of Gautama, as prince, to his attainment of Nirvana, as Buddha. The film is worthy of a watch despite indulging prominently on the childhood of Lord Buddha.

Special Mention:
Mahabharat (Hindi, 2013) – Considered to be one of the most expensive animated movies produced by Hindi film industry, the movie re-narrates the story of the Indian epic Mahabharata.  Though technically not impressive, it carried the voices of some of the most powerful performers of Hindi film industry including, Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol et al.

Dashavatar (2008) – A lesser-known movie discussing the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu was based on Ramayana, Krishna Leela, Mahabharat and other scriptures. This was not critics’ favourite because of its use of outdated technology and a crammy storyline; but it did win peoples’ vote. [Not to be confused with Kamal Haasan’s Dasavathaaram ].

These animated cinematic creations combine the magic of technology with the timeless narratives of gods, goddesses, and epic heroes, transporting audiences to a world steeped in mythology and spirituality. With their vibrant storytelling, these films not only entertain but also impart valuable moral lessons and cultural insights, making them a cherished part of India’s cinematic landscape. They are a celebration of India’s cultural heritage and a feast for the senses.

(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal)