Hanuman, Chhota Birbal next on Cartoon Network

MUMBAI: Hanuman and Chhota Birbal will be the latest additions this year to the seven locally acquired animation series on Cartoon Network in the last two years.

A Pentamedia creation Alibaba will also go on air on the channel by 27 July, according to Turner Entertainment Network senior VP Ian Diamond. This follows the launch of Tenali Raman, the antics of the popular minister in the court of Krishnadevaraya, a 13 part series that kicked off on 14 June and will be aired weekends. Tenali Raman is produced by the Hyderabad based Toonz Animation for Cartoon Network.

Cartoon Network globally has in fact set aside an amount of $500 million over a period of five years for the creation of original animation, says Diamond. Locally produced animation with themes revolving around Indian mythical and historical characters has in fact been a hit with Indian audiences and viewership now touches 18 million households, as against 15 million last year, according to Diamond.

Chhota Birbal is the product of an agreement with Climb Media and is a fictional take on a time when Mughal Emperor Akbar and his minister, friend and wisest counsel, Birbal were kids. The series showcases their fictional baby-sized adventures. Alibaba on the other hand, comes from the Pentamedia stable, which earlier produced Pandavas and Sinbad series for Cartoon Network. 

"We are very serious about cartoons," says Diamond, maintaining that the channel is concentrating on a strong mix of Japanese, Indian and Chinese animation in addition to the eternal Western favourites that are run on the channel.

The rise of India as an 'animation hub' has helped the channel source more content from within the country, avers Diamond. The high cost per episode has however impeded the introduction of longer series thus far. All the series thus far have had runs of a maximum of 13 episodes.

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