Indian American's 'Panchatantra' to ring in New Year

Chicago : Instead of the traditional TV fare of “Sesame Street” or “Harry Potter”, Colorado will ring in the year 2011 with a telecast of “Panchatantra” fables brought to animation by an Indian American whose films are acknowledged as cultural bridges between the East and West.

The Rocky Mountain PBS station of Denver has announced that the animation classics of Manick Sorcar will be telecast across the state at all its affiliate stations on New Year’s Day. He is the son of the legendary Indian magician P.C. Sorcar.

The approximate two-hour programme will include “Deepa and Rupa: A Fairy Tale from India”, winner of the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival, “The Sage and the Mouse”, “Sniff”, “Rule of Twenty One”, “Bronze Plaque” and “The Woodcutter’s Daughter”.

“Deepa and Rupa” is based on a popular folktale of Bengal; “The Sage and the Mouse” and “The Woodcutter’s Daughter” are from the “Panchatantra”; “Sniff” and “Rule of Twenty One” are from two popular nonsense poems from the satirist Sukumar Ray.

Manick Sorcar first came to the limelight in the early 1990s when his “Deepa and Rupa: A Fairy Tale From India” went on to receive a host of prestigious international film festival awards, including in New York, where it outdid Children’s Workshop’s “Sesame Street” and Hanna Barbera’s “The Greatest Adventure”.

Sorcar’s animation films are popular in US elementary schools, and this will be the nineteenth consecutive year of the telecast of his films on the Rocky Mountain PBS stations during the holiday season.

Over the years, critics have paid tribute to Sorcar for his attempts to teach the West the culture of India through his art. In a recently released book, “East meets West: the animation of Manick Sorcar” the author Wendy Luna notes that he is a man of many talents – writer, artist, animation film director and cartoonist.

“Sorcar has never strayed from his main objective of teaching Indian culture to the West. With a passionate desire to educate, combined with his love for children, Sorcar spent the last two decades designing animated works for youth. The family is extremely important to Sorcar and it shows through his works as an artist. By incorporating his family into his artistic endeavours, Sorcar was able to educate his two daughters, born in the United States, about his Eastern roots. Others who have struggled to strike this balance have used Sorcar’s animated works to teach their children about the Eastern world. Ultimately, through a highly entertaining medium, his works bridge the gap between the East and the West,” Luna said.

In a foreword to the book, John W. Hickenlooper, the recently elected governor of Colorado, wrote: “It is a tribute to Manick Sorcar, whose animation for the last two decades has both entertained and educated us about India, her culture, her people – all together a true cultural bridge between East and West, which has made Denver, the United States and India proud”.

Sorcar balances his work as an artist with his day job as chief executive of a lighting company whose projects include the lighting designs for the Denver international airport, sports centres in Japan and Saudi palaces.

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