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We need to look at comedy & A-rated animated content: Tejonidhi Bhandare

Reliance Animation, a Reliance Entertainment company, is powering Discovery Kids’ latest offering – ‘Little Singham’ – with its animation prowess. The animation series, which goes on air from April 21 at 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm, aims to fill the gap in ground-up Super Heroes in India. Reliance Animation has engaged as many 250 animation artists on this project, who have been working for than 6 months to get ready for ‘Little Singham’s’ mega launch. 

Reliance Animation has been striving hard to revive the culture of story-telling by characterising animation in the world of fantasy and has won quite a few international recognitions and accolades over a very short period of time. 

At present, the studio is busy with back-to-back Feature Film projects, while JVs for International CG Feature Films are also under active consideration. The studio has made it its vision to establish Indian Heroes in animation format, which is reflected in its creations like ‘Krishna Aur Kans’, ‘Shaktimaan’, ‘Little Krishna’ and now ‘Little Singham’. 

In a brief interaction with Adgully, Tejonidhi Bhandare, COO, Reliance Animation, speaks about the growth of the animation industry in India, the challenges, changing viewer dynamics, comedy & adult animated content and more. Excerpts: 

Please tell us about Reliance Animation’s association with Discovery Kids.
The making of ‘Little Singham’ started a year back. ‘Singham’ was already established in the market because of Ajay Devgn and Rohit Shetty and thus, we decided to launch something that would cater to our target audience, which are kids. We basically cater to the kids’ genre. That’s how the whole idea came into existence, of creating something like ‘Little Singham’. Initially, we created a pitch for this and approached Discovery and that’s how the whole project came into being. 

Also read:
Little Singham is an Indian IP, taking forward the Make-in-India agenda: Uttam Pal Singh

What are the key developments that you have seen in the animation category in the past few years?
We all have grown up with some mythological characters and those characters are already developed in the viewers’ mind-set. For example, we can see Ram, Hanuman, Arjun and the very famous Bheem. Talking about the animation category in India, initially the animation industry did not have that kind of funds for marketing the characters. But if we look at the western markets, we have Superman, Batman and many more such established animated characters that can directly draw a connection with the viewers. They spend a lot of funds on establishing the character to create a huge reach. Our industry was basically an outsourcing industry to the western countries. But now, the conditions are maturing in India as well. We are trying to create new characters in order to create something new in this category. 

You have mentioned that animation requires a lot of funds. So, how open are broadcasters for such content?
For kids, you have to first love the character. For broadcasters, this is a chicken and egg story. The broadcasters might like the concept, but the idea behind getting money depends upon the sponsors that they get on board. And sponsors will only put in their money on recognised brands. 

What are the major challenges facing the animation industry?
While content remains a major challenge, for India, pre-production is the biggest challenge, because we don’t have that kind of pre-production talent in the country. Though we are growing and we do have some very good talent, but not the right kind of talent as compared to other international markets. We are still lagging behind. We are strong in animation and post-production, but pre-production is something that we have to work on. 

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What are your views on the changing viewer dynamics?
Currently, the viewers are spilt on television and digital. So, it’s very difficult to say what will work and what will not. 

What are some trends and developments that you foresee in the animation category?
I think we need to start looking at comedy and A-rated adult animated content. There is huge talent available and stories to show in animation, which we can’t show in the form of live action. Apart from this, the biggest need today is to generate awareness about animation, because when we talk about animation people think only cartoon. However, it is much more than that. Animation is for all ages.

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