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Humour is the best form of content for kids: Krishna Desai on Andy Pirki

Pogo has launched yet another home-grown animated series, ‘Andy Pirki’. Created by Mangaluru-based AUM Animation Studios, the silent slapstick comedy went on air on December 3, 2017 and will air every Sunday at 9.30 am. A weekly show, ‘Andy Pirki’ celebrates the friendship between Andy, a pink dinosaur, and his friend Pirki, a short, grown up man with the heart of a child. Andy is an intelligent pink dino and the last of his species, while the simple-minded Pirki is separated from the human world. Their unique circumstances led the duo to develop a special bond and become the best of friends. 

The new show caps off a strong year of original productions for Pogo, following the successful launch of ‘Tik Tak Tail’ in September. 

Commenting on the brand-new show, Krishna Desai, Executive Director & Network Head-Kids, South Asia, Turner India, said, “Kids love light-hearted humour more than ever before – with ‘Andy Pirki’, we bring forth a truly unique non-dialogue show with contemporary storytelling. This brand new homegrown weekly, will air in prime time on Pogo. We hope that our audiences will not only enjoy, but also relate to ‘Andy Pirki’s lovable characters and the ever-attendant hilarious situations.” 

Shreekaanth Dass, Managing Director, AUM Animation Studios, added here, “The initial idea to produce ‘Andy Pirki’ came to us in the inception year of AUM Animation Studios in 2009. ‘Andy Pirki’ has already won multiple industry awards for best animation in India and international markets. We are excited to bring this fun-filled, action-packed entertainer series to the audience through Pogo. The characters have a lovable persona of their own that promises to take them on a fantasy quest.” 

Awards won by ‘Andy Pirki’ include:

  • Ficci Frames BAF Award 2015, 2016 and 2017 - Category: Best animated episode (National)
  • Ficci Frames BAF Award 2015 and 2017 - Category: Best animated episode (International)
  • DIGICON6 India award 2015 - Category: NextGen India

Pogo is Turner’s only-for-India, kids’ entertainment channel since 2004. The channel airs popular shows like ‘Chhota Bheem’, ‘Mighty Raju’, ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Mr Bean’. The channel launched a new show ‘Tik Tak Tail’, the biggest chase-comedy of the year in September 2017. 

In conversation with Adgully, Turner India’s Krishna Desai speaks more on the conceptualisation of ‘Andy Pirki’, the importance of humour in kid’s shows, the digital side content consumption and more. Excerpts: 

What brought about the inception of ‘Andy Pirki’ – two quirky characters with equally quirky names?
We started when the creators of the show, AUM Animations from Mangalore, approached us around two years ago and their concepts with rough sketches, rough storyline and some rough animations. So, that is when we picked up the idea that we loved. It was like an unpolished diamond and then our conversations became more frequent, the whole property got developed further and polished with creative interactions. The show per say went through lots of iteration before we finalised the final look and feel of the final show that you see now. 

The Indian cartoonscape has seen quite a few primitive cartoon characters earlier as well. What makes ‘Andy Pirki’ so special and different? Why did you decide to make it a silent comedy?
We always ask this question to ourselves while we are developing or commissioning a new property. In this case, we saw many unique things in it. Firstly, the whole premise of a silent show of seven minutes, we loved the format. We do not get too many shows in a silent format these days, apart from a few classics like Tom & Jerry. The advantage of a silent show can be seen only when the team is really talented; only then can they pull off a dialogueless show completely reliant only on visual storytelling, where you have to get the timing and the character design right, when you already have enough of things going on the visual narrative as such. 

The AUM Animations team, which has created the entire show, is very well equipped and we were very impressed with them. Secondly, the advantage of this format is audio entertainment, which gets less attention with story with dialogues. Here, they have created an original audio and music score for the show. 

Another point that makes ‘Andy Pirki’ a unique show is the characters. Andy is a pink dinosaur and Pirki is a caveman with the heart of a child. They are very affectionate towards each other, they look out for each other, but they are naughty as well. What makes this show stand apart is that while the story is of primitive characters, the storytelling has many themes which are contemporary which children will relate to. While they would be having an adventure in the jungle, Andy and Pirki are hired as pizza delivery boys; another story is based on hair styling. The entire strategy for the content line-up is to keep the consumer at the centre of the things. 

Will this be a finite series?
Yes, we have three 7-minute stories put back to back to occupy a half an hour slot on Sunday mornings, a well sought-after slot. The storytelling has scope to be infinite due to its settings. The premise is such that we can do as many stories. But for now, we are doing a launch which is slow and easy and then we have planned out the content line-up for 2-3 years. Hopefully, the kids will love it and we will do more and more of it. Pogo has a wider audience than just kids, which includes 15 years and older as well, just like the characters we have here, some of our audience is also like child trapped in an adult’s body. 

You have also been involved in a lot of research for content online and for kids’ platform as well. Which categories are considered to be the most appealing content for kids’ viewership?
With kids’ content, it’s very simple – they love content that makes them smile and laugh. Kids today do not prefer watching the content they watched probably ten years ago, like more of action. They have an inclination towards lighter, fun content due to their hectic academic and extra-curricular activities schedule. Humour is the best form of content for kids. However, this does not mean that Pogo is only making humorous content. We have a variety of content lined up, where you have different genres of shows that are popular with kids. 

Taking a break from action-based programmes, laughter is the best medicine, it helps in de-stressing. Humour can be portrayed in various ways. For instance, humour in ‘Andy Pirki’ is very different from the humour in ‘Mr Bean’. There are a lot of things that one can do to in the face of humour, but to describe it in one word with efficiency, it has to be comedy. In shows like ‘Ben 10’ and ‘Chota Bheem’, though there are lots of moments of humour, you can’t classify them as comedy shows. There are some lighter moments in the show that we add to make it a wholesome package for children.

For kids, apart from light humour, what kind of content has been the most successful?
It is surprising to know that out of, say 100 minutes spent on TV by kids each day, approximately 80 minutes are spent on content not targeted at kids, including GECs, music, movies, etc. Kids may like humour, but as a subset of what they watch in the kids’ genre. Out of that, they might not necessarily watch only comedy. Having said that, for Pogo and CN, the target audience is wider than just younger kids and older kids. These channels are gender agnostic as well, even though CN targets more of the boys, unlike Pogo. 

In ‘Andy Pirki’, the characters have a 3D look, a visual rendition which is very popular amongst kids today. It is a high budget production, so what kind of technology has been used and what kind of budget has been allocated for the same?
On the technical side, there were open sourced modules that were used for the production. 2D vs 3D is a good debate, but the format is not as important as the storytelling is. But if a particular storytelling requires you to use a high budget 3D format, so be it. We had debated on the issue of 2D vs 3D earlier, but there are pros and cons for both the formats with their production values, time taken and other production issues. But the final rendition for the look of the show was more suitable in 3D, so we decided to go with it. Yes, it is a high budget show in terms of production values, with high level of animation used. It all boils down to the heart of it and what you want to showcase. 

Are there any third-party collaborations made for the show by the channel?
No, there are no third-party collaborations for the show, but we are involved in a large number of promotional activities. For example, since the last 3-4 weeks we have been showing micro stories of the shows at a high frequency on the channel to make the kids familiar with who the characters are. But the mainstay of the show is promoting through giant ads. This hopefully should be fun! 

With the growing march of OTT in India, do you think this is the right time for the kids’ genre to delve into the digital medium?
I wish there was a simple answer to this. But how we view the digital side of content consumption is as one more way for our audience to view their content. It is, therefore, seen as a complimentary way of seeing our content. So, if kids love watching ‘Andy Pirki’ – and a certain number of children are also watching this type of content online – we would definitely make it available on the OTT platform as well.

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