Jay Ward is credited for infusing life into the world of Cars with the film franchise, and he is amazed by the quality of animation coming out of India. Calling the Indian animation industry “pretty robust”, the creative director says it is important to move beyond “one’s own backyard” and watch out for the work being done around the world. “You guys (in India) have a pretty robust industry. I know about Bollywood as well. There is a lot of good animation coming out of India. It is quite interesting that there are studios in India that are making animation for other places… You have a very strong film market,” Ward, who is Pixar Animation Studios’ franchise guardian for Cars, told IANS here.
Ward doesn’t believe in language barriers. He added, “I pay attention to films in general. I like going to animation festivals, love seeing what goes around the world. I think as somebody who loves film one should see more than what’s in the backyard. There is so much to see out there. I don’t care what language they are speaking in but I will sit through the whole movie because I want to know ‘Does he get the girl?’ or ‘Does he live’.” So can we expect an Indian character to zoom into the Cars universe soon? Ward doesn’t put down the idea. “I don’t know… With Cars 2 we went around the world and Cars 3 goes back to being a US-centric story. But the first thing (to figure out) will be what is the story that we want to tell and what is the next thing we want to tell about these characters,” said Ward, who wants to pack his bags and head to India soon.
Ward’s tryst with Pixar Animation Studios started in 1998 as an art department production assistant on Monsters, Inc. He got associated with Cars in the early development stage soon after. Disney-Pixar’s Cars brings a fantasy world of cars where they are not just metal bodies, but talk and feel like humans on the silver screen. It narrates the story of racing car Lighting McQueen, and its adventures. In Cars 3, which released in India on June 16, McQueen faces the threat of being taken over by a young sports car, and takes viewers through the journey around how he works hard to retain his position. Actors like Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Dillon, Dan Whitney and Kerry Washington are voice talents in the film. The film also gives out messages around gender equality and diversity in a very subtle tone. Ward says they wanted to make a movie “which appeals to both the genders”. “What I love about the film is that there are so many good male actors as well as female actors. All Pixar films have a really good sense of balance. You don’t feel that Toy Story is just for girls or boys, we want that for Cars.” The makers of Cars 3 also incorporated late actor Paul Newman’s voice for Doc Hudson in the third instalment. Ward found this appealing. “The message that I found the most appealing is thinking about those who have gone before us… There’s an old saying that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. I think we realise that in the film.” Ward signed off by saying that Cars 3 performance at the box office will determine the future of the franchise.