Beginning its journey in 2008 on Pogo, Chhota Bheem and its different avatars have
transcended cultural and geographical boundaries to gain love and acceptance from an
audience of over 100 million and growing
By Rajiv Chilaka
Founder & CEO, Green Gold Animation
Chhota Bheem’s journey to the small screen was by no means an easy one. I realised the huge opportunity in our country for original Indian Kids IP content. Chhota Bheem was an idea conceptualized in 2004 itself. The industry at that time was not open to many ideas and the scope of an indigenous IP was minimal. But the potential was there to be tapped into. I truly believed that kids would connect with and love a character that they could relate to and thus decided to focus on creating IP content for Indian audience.
Multiple pitches and numerous iterations later, we finally got the green signal from Pogo to create the Chhota Bheem show in 2007. Looking back today, the amazing love and acceptance shown by kids towards Bheem makes the arduous journey worth every moment. The love for the show ensured that Chhota Bheem never went off air in India since its pilot episode. It resulted in a decade of Bheem entertaining kids in different avatars, the latest of which is Mighty Little Bheem. The franchise today has an audience of over 100 million and growing.
I have always believed that the love for Bheem is universal but Mighty Little Bheem was the litmus test. We put our heart and soul in creating Mighty Little Bheem. It was a departure for us as well from our conventional projects as it was our first preschool show. The entire creation process has been a brilliant rollercoaster and an eye opener for us. Creating a non-dialogue music driven show that transcended cultural and geographical boundaries has been a revelation.
Little Bheem became the top pre-school title globally on Netflix. It is performing well in US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and other territories. Bheem today is a loving part of homes across 190 countries.
Chhota Bheem, the brand, has been growing for the last decade. When we realized the popularity of Bheem, we also realized that kids wanted to have a personal Bheem, thus started our merchandising journey. From a few comics and products, we have grown our presence to exclusive retail, modern trade, ecommerce as well as licensing. With over 100 brands partnering with us over the last decade, Chhota Bheem has consistently been among the most recognized and recalled kids brand in India.
And it all started in Hyderabad. The city is the hub for visual arts and animation, and it will soon have its IMAGE tower, a beautiful amalgamation of history, modern design and technology. Animation, Gaming and Visual Fx industries thrive on creative and technology ecosystems. The world-class tower provides a vibrant environment for the AVGC industry. The Telangana Government dedicated IMAGE policy on the industry will empower young and talented entrepreneurs to foray further and compete with the best projects worldwide.
The animation and the VFX segment witnessed a strong growth of 18.7% in FY19, to reach a size of Rs. 87.7 billion. The sector will grow at a CAGR of 16% between FY19 and FY24 and reach Rs. 184 billion. What is extremely heartening to know is that the Indian Animation IP production (excluding animation services) has a year-on-year double digit growth: almost double of what it was in 2012. With a population of 373 million between ages of 1-14 in India itself, this trend will only improve upon in the coming years.
Even though 70-80% of animation revenue in India comes from international projects, India’s share in the global industry is less than 1%. Immense potential is here. With the advent of OTT, the average content consumption in India has gone up from 450 hours a year, to almost 6000+ hours a year in the last 5 years. Animation has had a big role to play here. The success of Mighty Little Bheem and other Indian IPs globally has proven the importance of region agnostic content and the caliber of home grown IPs. I believe this is the right time to move forward and take our rightful place in the global animation industry.
The ease of access to global content has evolved the audiences taste and raised the standards for all creators. The quality and the ability of it to connect across regions is paramount. Keeping this in mind, we have set up our offices in Los Angeles to focus on and create IPs with global potential and appeal. The team, led by Mr. Marc Lumer, a veteran of the industry and illustrator extraordinaire, is creating IPs which are presently in various stages of production. The world is becoming a smaller place. And there is so much potential to do stories which are from India, of Indian stories.