‘Brand India’ animation ready to boom

Industry pacts with foreign companies

Ten years ago, India’s animation industry was keen to promote the “Brand India” label, a pitch that suggested the quality of work might be better than foreigners imagined. Nowadays, nearly all the major animation studios in the world have some kind of Indian presence or make use of Indian facilities and personnel.

The last year alone has seen Thomson and DreamWorks invest in Bangalore-based Paprikaas Animation; Disney pact with Bollywood’s top-ranked live-action shingle Yash Raj Films to make three animated films; and UTV commit to build a full-scale animation “pipeline.”

Animation houses have been producing in India for more than 25 years, and South Korea and China were in the subcontracting sector long before Indian companies, so why has the pace of change picked up now?

“Twenty years ago the boom began to happen for the software industry in India; now it’s animation’s turn,” says Taapas Chakravarti, who heads DQ Entertainment, which recently listed on the Alternative Investments Market section of the London Stock Exchange, and also chairs Ficci’s (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) committee on animation. “The IT industry has brought tremendous organizational and educational skills into this country.”

He also points to young Indians’ growing interest in non-traditional jobs. “We are not shy anymore. Media has opened the eyes and ears of many Indians, and you don’t have to be a civil service clerk to get on in life, you could go to one of those new animation schools.”

“Of course, cost is an advantage, but compared to other competitor countries, China or the Philippines, India has a huge talent pool,” says animation house Toonz prexy Prabhakaran Jayakumar. “Plus we have English-language skills and a huge entertainment market at home.”

Until recently, that home market in India was not a big consumer of Indian animation.

But, powered by a mushrooming TV market, domestic demand for animated content is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 49% for the next four years, according to a recent Nasscom research report. That means animation production for the local market is going to keep pace with the growing overseas demand for Indian toons.

“How can you tackle the international market if you don’t have strength at home?” asks Chakravarti.

The Ficci has been lobbying the government for help in developing the home market. So far support has been slow in coming.

Animation was not given “industry status” automatically when the rest of the film sector achieved normality in 2000; protective quotas were not forthcoming; and the federal and state governments have been reluctant to fund the establishment of training colleges.

But adversity has strengthened the biz. Just as is happening in the steel and software industries, Indian toon companies are now becoming more aggressive in the global hunt for projects and more predatory at the corporate level. DQ this month bought a 20% stake in theFrench tooner Method Films.

And it is unlikely to be the last investment by an Indian company.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content