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Indian Animation Industry Dawdling Despite Double Growth

Animation in India

India is the second-largest entertainment industry in the world. It is fortified well with impeccably talented, affordable, and trained professionals in the field of animation. With the increasing demands in outsourcing, various animation companies have emerged across India. Animation companies are forming animation hubs in major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Trivandrum, and Hyderabad. Most of these companies also have cutting-edge technologies in studios capable of executing extensive projects for companies from across the world.

Is India A Good Market For Animation Studios?

The animation and VFX industry is on the boom and witnessing a surge in its growth like never before. India is also on the map now, showing its great mettlesome growth for the past few years. In fact, the massive progress of the technological revolution has been the starting gate of 3D in India. And ever since then, the Indian CGI companies have earned the confidence of the global entertainment giants such as Disney, Warner Bros, and Sony in giving their 3D animation projects outsourcing requirements. 

As a matter of fact, both Indian and American-born animators all across the globe are looking to relocate. Yup—you heard that right! Americans of Indian descent are chasing back to their roots. They are heading to Indian cities for the massive amount of technical jobs created by the country’s incredible technology boom.

Why All Roads Lead To India Today?

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.

Cities like Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore are some of the booming cities popular for animation studios and academies. Especially, Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of the East with 1,500 transnational technology companies—a number that is growing quickly. The city is never short on industry events or animation inspiration with its near-incessant stream of film and animation festivals. It includes the Anifest in Mumbai, the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films, the cross-India Silver Salt Animation Festival, and the Jaipur Animation Film Festival.

India is one of the first choices when it comes to a service provider country in the animation industry. They find the perfect set of enough man-power and quality of work at an extremely low training and hiring cost here. A full-length animated film that costs over $100 million in the US will cost between just $15 million to $25 million in India. Thus, when you combine the extremely low production cost with a huge base of well-trained, English-speaking workforce, you’ve got the right conditions for a prolonged animation boom.

US Media Is Investing In Indian Animation Scenario

After a decade of extensive growth in the market of animation, “Indian animation is finally ready, it just needs a little guidance“, said Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios, Amsterdam, during scouting for tie-ups with similarly driven (starve up) animation companies in Pune.

I have been watching India for the past couple of years and kept thinking the market was not yet ready, in terms of graphics and marketing techniques. It was not very advanced. Then, I attended a Nasscom seminar in January and saw that the market was ready: the animation and youth markets are flourishing.

Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios
Khaleesi and Drogon

Animation has peaked in the country and big studios are progressively making their presence felt in global markets. One of the astounding feats in the history of Indian Animation scenario is the creation of Khaleesi’s Dragons in Game of Thrones. Prana Studios, based out of Goregaon in Mumbai took upon this mighty task.

It took the hard work of 800 employees of Prana’s Mumbai enterprise. It includes visual artists, animators, light and sound experts, and technology specialists– to finally create the dragons; also the brave-hearted Drogon, using CGI.

The producers wanted creatures that had a level of sophistication very high for any television series, and very realistic and engaging as the characters of creatures.

 Arish Fyzee, CEO and creative director of Prana Studios, told Quartz

Since then they have taken up various notable projects with other animation studios in this field.

Prime Focus Ltd

Other than Prana, quite a few more India-based companies have contracted with many in-home and foreign projects. For example, Prime Focus is an Indian-based service-providing company known for its post-production services in many Hollywood hits. Another example would be, Dhruv Interactive Studio, now acquired by Rockstar Games; was India’s leading game developer, providing game development and art production services to the global games industry.

Even with so many feathers in their hat, the Indian Animation industry is still struggling within the country. Here’s what the experts have to say about this:

Why Is The Indian Animation Scenario Still Struggling?

India is brimming with incredible art and creative animation talents. Yet still in 2021, the medium as a part of art and culture, we find it lagging big time. Our home-grown contents are either awkwardly made or non-existent. Why is that?

It is because India is not ready to risk its resources in self-production. Most of the studios and companies in India deal with outsourcing projects and providing skills and services to other countries. The idea that ensures high profits at minimum risk has created an environment like this.

Self-production is a huge leap to take for any media business. We can never say that after a huge investment of time and money a show will be successful. There is always a 50-50 chance. So, that is why the Indian Anime Industry is taking the shortcut to success. It is focusing on investing its efforts in a stable outsourcing income.

Lack Of Courage And Imagination

India has provided talent and services to several animations and visual effect-heavy films of the West and major Bollywood studios. But their local animation movies and series like Bahubali, Roadside Romeo, and an (unreleased) Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, have acquired little success.

In an article in The Hindu, E. Suresh, the founder of Studio Eeksaurus mentions one of the main reasons for the deficit of creating animated content- is the lack of passion. Of some 10,000 animators, we may have only 10 animation filmmakers who are passionate about making a film using the animation medium.

Suresh adds two other reasons for animation being stuck in limbo here: “The lack of original stories; of writers who can think and write animation,” and second, the lack of producers and studios who see merit or money in animated content. “Instead,” says Suresh, “they just lament that there’s no market for animated content in India.”

The Hindu

The difference between us and the West as industries is that they are fine-tuned to think out of the box. They encourage creativity and different formats. But here we only want to follow a formula until someone comes and rewrites it. And that is a problem. We don’t want to break the ice first yet we want all the profits when someone shows the way.

Lack Of Funding

Indian mindset has self-programmed itself from thinking out of the box. Even in the 21st century we are repeating and re-repeating our one-shot hits- Ramayana and Mahabharata in every medium. They have become our only inspiration. Or if we want to create new characters, it is hard to find good investors.

The Jungle Book

Even we cannot make movies like Jungle Book, where the main character Mowgli is an Indian just because we lack enough funding. Further, the fact that the Hollywood film (and many others like it) is already dubbed in local languages like Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu makes the opportunity for Indian animation even smaller.

Animation is still considered a children’s medium in India, whereas it is a powerful medium across the globe. That is why the few self-production Studios that are functioning avoid “hard-to-catch-areas”; as they direct at the smart and adult audiences. India is yet to explore that side of the medium. And so they go for home-grown shows produced only for children with unoriginality. Because the quality of the show doesn’t matter in the case of young minds; some colorful characters with familiar names will do the trick.

Despite the lack of original and unintelligent content, the immense population seems to have vacuously settled into accepting the subpar content that is being fed to them. However, this behavior has led to the Indian animation industry still earn a huge amount.

Indian Animation Industry Growth Compared To Previous Years

From a report of consultancy firm KPMG, we see a mixed picture of the state of animation and VFX in India. It grew from 53 billion rupees (USD$719 million) in the fiscal year 2016 to 101 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) in FY2020; animation accounted for 21.8 billion rupees, VFX, and post-production for 79.5 billion rupees.

And it is estimated the market will grow up to 156 billion rupees by 2022; at a compound annual growth rate of around 18 percent for the industry in the measured time period. On the other hand, India’s gaming market is projected to reach Rs.143 billion (US$ 1.96 billion) by FY22, due to a rapid increase in consumption.

KPMG data 1
KPMG data 2

The main reason behind this growth is not only the universal demand but also home-grown contents. We cannot overlook the streaming sites and OTT platforms that have certainly added to the market. This includes Mighty Little Bheem-Netflix’s first animated series from India. Also, there is a growing market for animated spin-offs from Bollywood franchises, such as the upcoming Dabangg.

As for VFX, there is a rising demand from both Bollywood and international producers. With the “prevailing anti-China sentiment”, from the overseas clients, India might just get a front seat in the outsourcing service department.  

But due to the pandemic, the report projects that the animation and VFX industries might reduce to half in size in FY2021. This can plummet to 49 billion rupees — a sharper fall than in any other segment bar films. Much of that contraction comes in VFX and post-production, dependent as they are on the disrupted live-action industry.

Even so, there are opportunities in the pandemic. The rebound in VFX is likely to be spurred by increased demand for previs as producers seek to minimize time spent on sets. Animation studios may well devote more resources toward creating their own Intellectual Property. This will diversify their revenue and become more self-sustaining.

Ultimately, the animation, VFX, and post-production industries are projected to bounce back to 77 billion rupees in FY2022.

These numbers provide hope to the Government of India and understand the potential in the AVGC industry. Hence, it is encouraging young talent to create business opportunities in the sector and put India on the AVGC industry map again.

Government support and Job opportunities

The Indian animation and visual effects industry, which commands around 10% of the global market share, has the potential to reach 20-25% by 2025, according to the latest media and entertainment industry report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Finally, it is time the Government of India has acknowledged the demand for animation as a driving force for the country’s economy. They have increased the FDI limit from 74% to a full 100%. The Government introduced the National Digital Communications Policy 2018(NDCP 2018) for affordable digital communications infrastructures and services.

Within the M&E sector, the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comic (AVGC) sector is growing at a rate of ~29%, while the audiovisual sector and services are rising at a rate of ~25%. It is going to be one of the champion sectors as estimated by the Government of India. So as a gesture of encouragement for a better future, the government also announced to set up a Centre for Excellence with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay to launch courses in AVGC and promote entrepreneurship in the sector.

The two segments, Animation, and VFX which have together grown 17% from 2015 to 2019 can now create 75,000-120,000 jobs over the next five years with their contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product rising by 0.06-0.08% over the same period.

“It is time that these professionals started doing more of this for our own films so that the use of animation and graphics in Indian films grows manifold.”

Information and broadcasting minister,Prakash Javadekar 

As a matter of fact, Animehunch Private Limited is also not far behind while moving towards a brighter future in the Animation industry. We are grooming comics artists and story-tellers and providing them a platform for enthralling stories inspired by the Japanese art of manga drawing. We are aiming to be one of the greatest Indian Anime content creators in the country. Eventually making India a competitor to countries like China and Korea.

Final Thoughts

India has a legit Animation Industry as we speak. It is growing and the growth graph looks pretty stable. Over the decade the industry has expanded very well trying its best to compete with the outside world. But what we lack is a speedy exponential growth in the market. Even though it has become better than what the industry was 10 years ago, technology never stops. If we took 2 steps forward, the rest of the world is ahead by 4steps.

We cannot say for sure, India is going to top in animation content very soon, but yes the rising wind is there. Indians have broken free from the shackles of monotonous romance stories and mythologies. They have started venturing into the unknown world of “intellectual property(IP)” and developed a thirst for quality content and smart cinema.

And the clock has started ticking when the Indian Animation Industry has to change its way from outsourcing to self-production even if they are reluctant to admit it. The number of Indian anime fans, video-game players, and web series watchers is increasing drastically every year. And with these followers, the Indian pop culture will peak the market exponentially; resulting in attracting business partners and producers from all over the world.

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