Original Indian kids’ animation content is the need of the hour

MUMBAI: There is a dire need for creating home-grown content when it comes to kids’ entertainment. The scope for reducing the dependence on acquired content is immense especially since India has loads of unexplored talent.

Brand extension, merchandising and marketing sponsors’ products are compelling reasons to produce original Indian shows and for this intellectual property (IP) rights are crucial. Shaktimaan was probably the first Indian superhero on TV but today’s popular figures are Chhota Bheem and Motu Patlu.

“The amount required for one single episode of animation content production abroad will suffice for making the entire series in India,” says Toonz Media country business head development Kishor Chandra Shrivastav, who was speaking on a panel recently.

A big boost to India’s animation industry came when recently Netflix announced it will be creating a spinoff of Green Gold Animation’s popular show Chhota Bheem as Mighty Bheem.

Animation production is expensive in comparison to a general entertainment channel (GEC) shows with the former requiring Rs 25-28 lakh an episode as against Rs 5-6 lakh for the latter. The advertising rates, however, commanded by the two are inversely proportional according to estimates.

The type of content and the investment in it also attracts the right kind of sponsors. ICOM Global vice chairman and South Asia Kushal Sanghvi says that low budget content will only get a handful of sponsors while big budget and sponsors will require the storyline to be universal. He gives the example of Disney’s Jungle Book that was a hit in India.

Sanghvi also highlighted that Indian shows lack merchandising power with the notable exception of Chhota Bheem. For great quality content and merchandising, investment needs to touch Rs 40-50 lakh an episode.

Punnaryug Artvision founder Ashish Kulkarni differed in his opinion. He said, “I don’t agree completely. In India, there are characters which get licensed. Sometimes, just the character is licenced and not the content. We do not have interesting brands for Indian cinema.”

The supply of India-produced shows is very limited compared to the unlimited growth of Japanese and other foreign language cartoons such as Doraemon and Shinchan. Since Japan has 15-20 years of headstart over India, their library is massive. In 2016, Cartoon Network had 91.61 per cent foreign shows, Pogo had 82.67 per cent while Disney had 60.61 per cent shows from abroad.

Licensing can happen only if the character is extremely popular for which it needs to be present on both TV and OTT.

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