Creating National Identity

Creating National Identity: Government-Sponsored Animation in India 1956-1990


The paper looks at the development of the identity of Indian animation in relation to the growth and identity of the Indian nation. It covers the period marked by the social context in which two government-funded organisations, the Cartoon Film Unit (CFU) at the Films Division of India (FDI) and the National Institute of Design (NID) produced a total of 266 animated films. In the first decades, it is an era characterised by broad international influences in animation and design, works of producer Jehangir Bhownagry and the rise of Indian animators such as Ishu Patel, R.L Mistry, Binita Desai and Pramod Pati, as well as the making of the first independent animated film The Banyan Deer (1957). Then the paper examines more closely two films that illustrate how the filmmakers in the following decades tried to integrate narrative traditions, sound and visuals to create films to deliver essential messages that were relevant to the growth of the Indian socialist nation; Vijay Mulay and Bhimsain Khurana’s Ek Anek aur Ekta (One, Many and Unity) (1974) and R. L Mistry’s National Highway (1984).