Content creation has peaked in the country and big studios are progressively making their presence felt in global markets
By Anish Mehta
The Indian Animation industry has sure come a long way and a 100% ‘Made in India’, non-dialogue, culturally agnostic show of Indian origin, Eena Meena Deeka selling to over 100 countries worldwide is a shining testimonial to that. Indian IPs are here to stay and thrive and make their mark not only in India, but across the world.
The Indian animation industry is perhaps the most unique one in the world. On one level it is extremely younger in comparison with its American, European or even some of its Asian counterparts. Yet on another level thanks to the overall evolution of the Indian M&E industry it is fairly evolved and far more locally driven than even some of the more evolved markets.
This demand for indigenous content is what is unique about India. Much like our cinema, the local tastes and preferences drive the market. The beauty of animation is that it encompasses its cultural bearings thoroughly while catering to local tastes; and yet remains culturally agnostic when dubbed in local languages of the world. The Indian Diaspora and the spread of digital has brought in North America and pockets of Europe also into the active fold of animation content of Indian origin.
Being much younger than our cinema, Bollywood which has carved its own niche worldwide, animation today has reached many more countries and not just to the diaspora but to the local mainstream markets of these countries. The first Indian IP Chhota Bheem gave birth to the most popular Netflix property in the preschool space and Motu Patlu became the first animated pop culture avatars that got waxed at Madame Tussauds.
Today there are a slew of IPs that are changing the very notion of how animation content is perceived globally, like one of our own non-dialogue shows which has become the first Indian show to get co-financed by an international digital studio. And the modern-day tales of the Indian animation are replete with such rich business anecdotes, which will drive folklore in the days to come.
Global giants like Disney, Nickelodeon, Turner; through their channels created a culture of animation consumption for the last two decades and today there is a significant volume of audience for these shows in India, paving the way forward for new genres like pre-school, animation for pre-teens, animation for older audience among others.
Indian companies are focusing more on commissioning original animated shows and constructing their own library as opposed to simply licensing international content. This local demand is what is fueling the growth of this industry which is eventually making its mark on the global market.
The success of some of our Indian IPs globally has confirmed the significance of region agnostic content and the quality of home-grown IPs. The effortless access to acquire global content has changed the audiences’ preference and raised the bar for all creators. The OTT allure has given creators an opportunity to experiment with new ideas, stories and characters. The world has become a smaller place and there is so much potential to do stories which are from India.
India is recognizing the global value of its property that has been driven by the arrival of various OTT platforms. We are producing high quality, original content that the world is likely to devour. The future undoubtedly is digital, though the beauty of India yet again lies in the simultaneous growth of TV as well; creating a unique situation for us with more avenues to monetise content.
While over many years, the work-for-hire design largely attracted studio margins, now the benefits of having one’s own registered characters; trademarks and content have driven companies towards investing in local IPs. The conventional outsourcing design is no longer the surviving reason for Indian animation studios, they have started to own and produce Intellectual Property. Indian broadcasters and studios have been working towards delivering content that is rich, entertaining and customized to local tastes.
Indian animation companies are progressing on the value chain to own and co-produce IP rights. Content creation has peaked in the country and big studios are progressively making their presence felt in global markets. This is a drastic flip from outsourcing animation production from international studios. In addition, with the entry of global giants in India and a host of leading cartoon channels in search of content from India and its rich cultural heritage, the business has thrived.
There is a massive opportunity for Indian animation companies to measure, open doors for alliance between creative minds to work across various platforms and create demand for local animated content.
The author is CEO of Cosmos Maya.