By Anish Mehta
The Indian animation industry has certainly come a long way and a 100% ‘Made in India’, non-dialogue, culturally agnostic show of Indian descent, Eena Meena Deeka selling to more than 100 countries worldwide is a shining testimony to this. Indian IPs are here to stay and thrive and make their mark not only in India, but around the world.
The Indian animation industry is arguably the most unique in the world. On some level, it is extremely younger compared to its American, European, or even some of its Asian counterparts. But on another level, thanks to the overall evolution of the Indian M&E industry, it has evolved quite a bit and is much more locally driven than even some of the more developed markets.
This demand for native content is the uniqueness of India. Like our cinema, local tastes and preferences drive the market. The great thing about animation is that it covers its cultural aspects thoroughly and at the same time responds to local tastes; and yet it remains culturally agnostic when dubbed into the local languages of the world. The Indian diaspora and the proliferation of digital have also brought North America and parts of Europe into the active fold of animation content of Indian origin.
Be much younger than our cinema, Bollywood which has conquered its own niche worldwide, animation has today reached many more countries and not only the diaspora but also the local mainstream markets of these countries. The first Indian IP Chhota Bheem gave birth to the most popular Netflix accommodation in the preschool space and Motu Patlu became the first animated pop culture avatars to be waxed at Madame Tussauds.
Today, there are a slew of IPs that are changing the idea of how animation content is perceived globally, such as one of our own shows without dialogue, which has become the first Indian show to be co-funded by an international digital studio. And the modern stories of Indian animation are full of such rich business anecdotes, which will boost folklore in the days to come.
Global giants such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Turner; through their channels created a culture of animation consumption over the past two decades and today there is a significant audience for these shows in India, paving the way for new genres such as kindergarten, animation for preschool children, animation for elderly audience among others.
Indian companies are more focused on creating original animation shows and building their own library, rather than simply licensing international content. This local demand drives the growth of this industry that ultimately leaves its mark on the global market.
The success of some of our Indian IPs worldwide has confirmed the importance of region agnostic content and the quality of home grown IPs. The effortless access to global content has changed audience preference and raised the bar for all creators. The OTT allure has given creators the opportunity to experiment with new ideas, stories and characters. The world has gotten smaller and there is so much potential to tell stories that come from India.
India recognizes the global value of its properties that has been driven by the advent of various OTT platforms. We produce high quality original content that is likely to devour the world. The future is undoubtedly digital, although again the beauty of India lies in the simultaneous growth of TV; creating a unique situation for us with more opportunities to monetize content.
While the job hire design has largely attracted studio margins for many years, now the benefits of having your own registered characters; trademarks and content have prompted companies to invest in local IPs. The conventional outsourcing design is no longer the surviving reason for Indian animation studios, they have started owning and producing intellectual property. Indian broadcasters and studios have worked to deliver content that is rich, entertaining and adapted to local tastes.
Indian animation companies are making progress in the value chain to own and co-produce IP rights. Content creation has reached its peak in the country and major studios are gradually making their presence felt in the global markets. This is a drastic turnaround due to the outsourcing of animation production from international studios. Additionally, with the arrival 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 is thriving.
There is a huge opportunity for Indian animation companies to measure, open doors for alliance between creative minds to work across platforms and create demand for local animated content.
The author is CEO of Cosmos Maya.