MIPCOM, Cannes: With all the opportunities presented by a huge broadcast and digital market within India, why would the Indian entertainment industry even need to look outside its borders for more business? At the MIPCOM JUNIOR conference session on original content and co-production opportunities for animation in India, it was evident that Indian animation companies believed that it was time for them to achieve international recognition and extend their business capacity by becoming partners on some of the world’s best projects.
The India panel participants, representing some of the major animation companies in India, were clear on the point that India did not try to pitch for business on the basis that it was inexpensive to do animation in India. They did not want to be known as a service industry. “We have moved on from service to creating our own content. We have a rich culture and are forging partnerships with companies across the world,’ said Munjal Shroff, co-founder, Graphiti.
Ashish Kulkarni, founder & executive producer, Anirights Infomedia Pvt Ltd said that in 2001 they realised that catching up with traditional international animation was going to be difficult. They embarked on an ambitious training programme but found that it required six to 12 months before any of the trainees were ready to contribute in a meaningful way to animation projects.
They also had to overcome barriers on acceptable careers. Indians had always aspired to becoming doctors and lawyers. Slowly, they became to realise they could make a career in the areas of drawing, painting and acting which were previously looked down upon. “Now we have 20 000 students being trained on different levels of animation,’ said Kulkomi who has established several long term programmes with companies from Canada, the UK and the US.
Biren Ghose, CEO and president, Kahani World Inc, explained that cost of production was not necessarily India’s strong point. When dealing with international animation partners, one of the attractions was distribution as India has over 120 million children between the ages of eight and 12 years in a population of 1.2 billion. “We are also prepared to discuss sensible risk projects.’
Elizabeth Koshy, CEO of Animation Dimensions, USA, who has a chain of animation outfits in India, said that India animation was determined to grow up the value chain. “So we are getting into co-production and content creation.’
In a summary of some of the benefits international animation companies had by working with India was that Indian companies were prepared to invest cash, they could ensure a project was completed quickly and still retain quality, they were English-speaking and their technology was very advanced. Koshy made the observation that one company could allocate more than 2,000 people to roll out 25 genres at the same time.
Animation in India does not rely on government funding and it was not considered as necessarily an advantage to have government involvement which could be slow and cumbersome.
India animation companies are involved in number of major animation projects around world and have concluded deals with amongst others ABC Disney, France 3 and NBC Universal.