India's Viacom18, Nickelodeon Partner on Animated Feature Based on 'Motu Patlu' TV Series

'Motu Patlu' film still - H 2016
Courtesy of Viacom18

The film marks the joint venture company's foray into Indian animation.

After building a local slate over the years with Hindi-language Bollywood and regional films, Viacom18 Media has now unveiled its foray into Indian animation features.

The company's Nickelodeon India channel, Nick India, and its film arm Viacom18 Motion Pictures have partnered on Motu Patlu: King of Kings in association with Indian animation studio Maya. The 3D feature is set for release on Oct. 14 on over 700 screens in the country, dubbed in Hindi and the South Indian Tamil language.

Originally based on popular characters created by kids magazine Lotpot, the Motu Patlu property revolves around the adventures of two friends and is named after its lead characters. It has been a long-running series on Nickelodeon India which is also offered on Viacom's digital platform Voot, while being extended into a range of merchandise products.

In addition to the episodic series, the property has also seen 10 made-for-TV movies that have aired on Nick India which, according to Viacom19 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, “have contributed to 10 per cent of Nick’s ratings, being amongst the top five every time we released one such movie.”

The theatrical version is directed by Suhas Kadav and features lyrics by veteran Bollywood lyricist Gulzar with music composed by well-known filmmaker and composer Vishal Bharadwaj. The film revolves around a runaway circus lion, a lion king trying to protect his kingdom and a greedy poacher as Motu and Patlu get caught up in one final battle to save the life of the jungle.

Animation movies are still “an under-explored category” in India, according to Viacom18 Motion Pictures CEO Ajit Andhare who points that the Motu Patlu television movies “clearly indicated that there was a demand for both the format and the characters to be introduced on a much larger scale.”

Meanwhile, the studio's Bollywood lineup includes upcoming actioner Force 2 starring actor John Abraham, which opens in November. And next year, the studio will release its much-anticipated World War II drama Rangoon. Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, it stars actress Kangana Ranaut and actors Shahid Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan.

As for its Hollywood releases in the country, the studio's lineup for summer 2017 sees two major Paramount titles, which feature top Bollywood actresses. Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) stars in Baywatch, while Deepika Padukone will be seen in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.

Viacom18 Media is an equal joint venture between Viacom Inc and Indian media group Network18 which is owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries.