With their foundations in India’s centuries-old rich heritage in animation, literature, and arts, Indian Studios have been producing high-end animations for global brands, and captive facilities have been springing up to tap into the Indian talent pool By Munjal Shroff
What are the benefits of collaborating with Indian Animation Studios? That is the question that most international producers will ask. Indian animation studios have already established themselves as a strong production partner with a proven track record, but the Indian animation industry is much more than just cost arbitrage. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other factors that make Indian Animation Studios a great partner for developing and co-producing original IPs.
The first Indian animated short film, Aagkadyanchi Mouj (Matchstick’s Fun), was produced in 1915 by Dadasaheb Phalke! This was only two years after he produced India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913. Phalke is known as the “Father of Indian Cinema.” The history of animation in India can be traced back to the 5th century BC, when scroll paintings and later shadow puppets were used to tell stories. In fact, storytelling was a well-established profession in ancient times. Beyond the Mahabharata and Ramayana, India has a very rich literature with thousands of stories, mythologies, and epics. Aside from stories, there are hundreds of rich and diverse schools of painting, graphics, folk arts, and even different puppet styles.
At Graphiti, India’s premiere animation studio, we are passionate about our rich artistic heritage. We decided very early to tap into our rich heritage to develop our own shows-our IP. We chose to
bring alive the world of colour, art and stories through our unique movie series Krish, Trish and Baltiboy, recipient of the Audience Choice Award at 2011’s CMS Children’s Film Festival. Our 40+ million viewers on Cartoon Network, POGO and Gubbare channel just love the show.
India has a rich mythology, with wellknown epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The challenge with these epics is that because they have a religious context, they may not have a global appeal because buyers avoid buying children’s content with religious overtones. The key is to filter that out, to create fun characters and engaging stories with a lot of playfulness, drama, and intrigue, and to create something new that a global audience can enjoy even if they don’t understand the cultural context.
In 2009, Cartoon Network shorts program SNAPTOONS cherry picked three Indian studios Miditech, Famous and Graphiti to co-develop three show Sulochana and Nature Detectives, Johnny goes to Bollywood and Kul Veera. The shorts produced were then screened across all the Cartoon Network Channels in Asia Pacific to gauge the audience reaction. Graphiti’s Kul Veera was the top rated shorts out of the 15 shorts produced by various studios of APAC. Kul Veera is a gripping fast paced, original story with characters from the Mahabharata and some new ones as well. The action, the choreography, the 3D animation is fabulous and featured great performances as well, it is tightly scripted and has a global appeal. Kul Veera was packaged for the international market, it featured top voice
Hamill (Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
Yoga is India’s greatest gift to the world and a global trend, but it is still underutilised in the children’s space. So Graphiti took Yoga and gave it a superhero twist to create Yom. Yom chronicles the exploits of a brash young boy who gains animal-based superpowers by performing… yoga poses. Yom was created in collaboration with Disney and premiered on Disney Channel India in 2018 to high ratings and critical acclaim.
Bollywood films have been gaining global audiences and Indian producers are capitalizing on this trend and producing shows inspired and based on characters from hit Bollywood films. In 2004 Graphiti co-produced with Nickelodeon the award winning live action cum animated series “J Bole Toh Jadoo” based on the licensed character Jadoo from the hit Bollywood film Koi Mil Gaya. In fact Nick talent from Hollwood including Mark re-launched the channel in India with this show. The trend continues today with Fukkrey Boyzz and Little Singham on Discovery Kid and Golmaal Jr on Nick’s Channel Sonic.
OTT Platforms like Netflix are already working with Indian Producer and developing original IP and acquiring content which have strong Indian connect. Graphiti’s shows Krish, Trish and Baltiboy and Yom have been acquired by Netflix and released not just in English and Hindi but also in Chinese, Korean, Turkish and Polish language. This clearly show that these shows are being also served to a global audience and not just English language audience. The Indian show Mighty Little Bheem produced by Green Gold Animation become the second most popular Netflix Kids original.
And now my show, Deepa and Anoop which was produced by Mattel and was commissioned by Netflix as a Netflix Original launched on the August 15th, 2022. The show has been created by Lisa Goldman, Heather Kenyon and me. Deepa & Anoop follows the lively adventures of a fun-loving Indian girl named Deepa, who is growing up in her multigenerational family’s bed and breakfast called Mango Manor, and her bestie: a color-changing baby elephant named Anoop. The self-professed “concierges of fun,” the duo makes it their mission to ensure that guests of Mango Manor have a great stay … and get up to all sorts of imaginative shenanigans in the process. My inspiration for Anoop the pink elephant comes from the bedecked elephants of Jaipur Elephant Festival. Mango Manor is inspired from the numerous boutique hotels in India that have distinctive Indian décor. And ofcourse Bollywood is the inspiration for all the song and dance numbers that feature in every episode. It’s a delightfully Indian show that has been created for the global audience.
Some of the Indian Studios have been producing high end animated TV Commercials for global brands such as Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Coke, Pillsbury Doughboy, Cheetos. Veteran American producer Joanna Ferrone, creator of iconic characters such as Angela Anaconda and Fido Dido partnered with Graphiti to give Fido a contemporary make over. We worked closely to reimagine Fido as an 3D character and produce an series of shorts – Fido Xtreme Shorts. This rejuvenated the brand and boosted the Character Licensing of Fido.
The domestic Indian market is massive and growing rapidly. Even the Licensing market in India is growing rapidly as expendable income is increasing across the spectrum of the population. The Government is now working closely with the Animation, VFX and Gaming industry and is planning various schemes such as co-production funds, signing co-production treaties and launching a public kids broadcasting channel. All these factors will benefit any co-production that is done with Indian Studios.
Studios such as Technicolor have already established captive facilities in order to tap into the Indian talent pool. Indian studios and a new generation of talented artists, animators, directors, writers, designers, and storytellers are delving into the plethora of unique Indian art, culture, and stories, which bodes well for the future of Indian animation and storytelling. This is what international producers must do in order to collaborate with Indian studios and create distinctive original shows for the global market.
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