Munjal Shroff of Graphiti, creator of the pre -school musical series Deepa & Anoop on Netflix, underscores that how the Mattel Inc. produced animation IP series reflects India’s pride, heritage,
fun, and friendship that is relatable to children worldwide
Munjal shroff, director & Coo of Graphiti multimedia Pvt. ltd., discusses how a decade and a half of creative work culminated in a series that celebrates Indian heritage, art, and fun
What is it like to be “The Creator” of Deepa and Anoop?
I am completely overjoyed! It’s been a long but incredible journey. I believe we could do an entire show about our 16-year journey to get Deepa and Anoop out of our heads and onto the big screen. There is no greater joy for a creator than seeing your characters and stories come to life. It’s a fantastic high.
Lisa Goldman, one of your cocreators, stated that Deepa & Anoop took eight years from pitch to Netflix streaming. Is it now a timeless property, like Barbie?
Lisa and I embarked on this journey in 2006 when she first came to India and fell in love with everything Indian. Every time I watch the Netflix show, I get goosebumps. Barbie takes decades to build, and no one understands this better than Mattel. We just released the first season and are now waiting for kids all over the world to fall in love with the absolutely adorable Deepa and Anoop. We’d be overjoyed if Deepa and Anoop had the same fan base as Barbie.
Good stories have no limits. India has so much to offer, and we have a lon g tradition of story telling that dates back centuries. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are only the tip of the iceberg
You have supported Indian animation for more than 20 years; what is your vision for it?
I firmly believe in the Indian philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – The entire world is one big family. When it comes to content, good stories have no limits. India has so much to offer, and we have a long tradition of storytelling that dates back centuries.
The Ramayana and Mahabharata are well-known, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. India has over 40 cultural zones, each with a diverse range of painting styles and performing arts. Indian music is equally rich and diverse, with numerous musical schools (gharanas). We have attempted to bring wonderful folk stories to our growing audience of over 40 million children through our award-winning animated movie series Krish, Trish, and Baltiboy.
Indian culture, stories, and characters, in my opinion, have a lot to offer the rest of the world. Shows like Mighty Little Bheem and, more recently, Deepa and Anoop have demonstrated that shows with an Indian ethos can resonate with a global audience in the same way that any other American, European, Japanese, or Korean show. I believe that Indian animation, like Japanese anime, will carve out a distinct identity.
We are preparing to have 20 million skilled artists in the AVGC sector. Our goal should be to increase our global market share not only in the services sector, but also by creating global franchises through film production and shows for the global market
Graphiti has been a trailblazer in the creative process of Animation Art. Recently, we saw a blend of animation and live action in the documentary Secrets of the Kohinoor.
The Secrets Documentary Series is very special. When Friday Storytellers approached us for the first episode, Secrets of Sinauli, we had never worked on a documentary, let alone one about a landmark archaeological discovery that would rewrite world history. The first episode went on to win numerous awards for best documentary and best series.
Secrets of the Kohinoor is the second episode. For this, the team at Graphiti really pushed the envelope. We created 80+ characters and 250+ matte paintings for 25 minutes of animation and infographics. We really indulged and we are very grateful that Discovery+ and Friday Storytellers gave us a wonderful canvas to work with.
The stunning Graphic Novel style animation shows the 1000 year history of the Kohinoor Diamond. Secrets of the Kohinoor is the most definitive documentary on the Kohinoor. It’s a must watch for any history buff.
Now that the Government of India has established an AVGC taskforce, how do we shift gears to capitalise on the opportunity for Indian studios?
I am a member of the policy task force. We’ve had some excellent policy reform discussions with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government has recognised the industry’s potential in Animation, VFX, Gaming, Comics, and XR. In fact, this industry is on track to overtake films very soon. India’s global AVGC market share is less than 2%, so we are sitting on a massive opportunity. The industry is benefiting greatly from our demographic advantage of a young workforce. We are preparing to have 20 million skilled artists in the AVGC sector. Our goal should be to increase our global market share not only in the services sector, but also by creating global franchises through film production and shows for the global market.
What does the future hold for India’s storytelling and image-making capabilities? You’ve been a supporter of digital alternative and 2D animation… What are your thoughts on the metaverse universe?
The Metaverse is a fantastic opportunity. Both the technology and the audience are evolving. The question that content creators must ask themselves is what unique experience they can provide to their audience that will entice them to visit the Metaverse.
I don’t think we’ve been able to provide a convincing answer to that question yet. My studio, Graphiti, has been tasked with answering this question. As animation producers, we are better positioned to create one of-a-kind experiences that will entice audiences to visit the Metaverse. Another significant opportunity is for us to extend our existing character franchises into the Metaverse, immersing fans in the worlds of their favourite characters.
How do we put co-production agreements into effect?
Co-production funds and tax breaks are essential for facilitating co-productions. We are actively collaborating with the government on policy reforms, and I believe we can anticipate some positive developments in this area very soon.
Tell us about how Munjal appears as a character in Deepa & Anoop.
Actually, the Mattel team deserves credit for that. They chose the name Munjal for the Royal Bengal Tiger. I was deeply moved by the gesture because it made me feel very special. Munjal is stunning and majestic!