By Min Lee
The Associated Press
HONG KONG (AP) — Encouraged by the reception of its Hindi animated movie, Disney is shooting a new adventure film in the southern Indian dialect of Telugu as it deepens its localization drive in the populous country.
The still-unnamed production is about a 9-year-old girl with special healing powers who tries to save her homeland from a tyrannical queen, assisted by a blind swordsman, The Walt Disney Co. said in a statement Thursday.
Directed by veteran Indian filmmaker Prakash Rao Kovelamudi, the movie stars actors Lakshmi Manchu, Sidharth, Shruthi Hassan and Harshitha. Shooting started in November.
Disney spokeswoman Alannah Hall-Smith declined to reveal the budget.
The film —scheduled to be released in January 2011 — will also be dubbed in another southern Indian dialect, Tamil, to broaden its appeal.
“As we work to build a family entertainment brand in India, we plan to provide Indian audiences with an unparalleled roster of locally relevant stories and engaging characters,” The Walt Disney Co. India Managing Director Mahesh Samat was quoted as saying in the statement.
The Telugu project comes after Disney released the Hindi animated feature “Roadside Romeo” in 2008, which gave the Hollywood studio its strongest opening weekend in India.
The co-production with Yash Raj Films — one of the country’s top movie studios — was voiced by popular Indian stars and features the song-and-dance numbers that are a trademark of the country’s Hindi-language industry, commonly referred to as Bollywood.
In localization efforts elsewhere in Asia, Disney has made two co-productions in China — “The Magic Gourd” (2007) and “Trail of a Panda”(2009) — and is about to release a third, a Chinese version of its hit franchise film, “High School Musical.”