Free Press Journal

There is great future in Indian animation and we have just started: Chhota Bheem creator Rajiv Chilaka


Rajiv Chilaka creator of Chhota Bheem-1Rajiv Chilaka creator of Chhota Bheem

Green Gold Animation, which has created and built the legendary Indian brand Chhota Bheem, is coming up with another interesting animation film ‘Hanuman vs Mahiravana’. The film, a mythological one based on an untold story from the epic Ramayana featuring Hanuman, will be released in English, Hindi and Tamil language on July 6.

In an email interaction with FPJ Web Editor Renin Wilben, Rajiv Chilaka, CEO and founder of Green Gold Animation, discusses about the film, the Indian animation industry in detail, why mythological tales must be told, and his ‘Walt Disney’ dream.

Why do you think a film on mythology, ‘Hanuman vs Mahiravana’, will appeal to today’s tech-savvy kids?

The current generation of youngsters follow the genre of mythology and fantasy type movies and books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings etc. Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Norse mythological stories are quite popular amongst Indian youngsters. We want to bring to them interesting stories from Indian mythology and tell it in a visually fascinating way.

Mahiravana is a dark lord with immense magical powers and the ruler of the Patala Lok or the Netherworld. Mahiravana used his powers to capture Rama and Lakshmana and it is upto Hanuman to rescue them before the sunrise. So, it is an interesting and untold story from the Ramayana and has lot of action, suspense and is set in the Netherworld. Further, we are releasing this in 3D as well for the visual treat. The movie releases on 6th July.

Watch the trailer below

Also, don’t you think the Indian animation industry should start exploring topics beyond mythology?

The characters, the settings, the era of stories from mythology are something we should introduce our current and future generations to. But having said that end of the day the story and the concept is what really matters. Today, there are shows like Super Bheem and Mighty Raju, which are set in current and future time. Hence, Indian animation is definitely coming out with stories and concept which are fresh, new and relates to the current generation.

In terms of technology and content, Indian animation industry is way behind the likes of Walt Disney. How can the gap be bridged?

Indian animation industry has grown at a fast pace in the recent years. The amount of studios that have been started tells us that there is a lot happening with animation. In terms of technology I believe that we are at par and the quality of animation has definitely caught the attention of west. But yes we will still need to support this growth and ensure that there is quality education evolving for our young aspirants.

You said you want to be the Walt Disney of India? What is it about Walt Disney that makes it the best animation studio?

Disney is an institution that has given life to cartoons and the animation industry. It is Walt Disney’s aspirations that drives me and my team to create wonders and bring smiles across the millions of kids who watch our shows in India and globally. It’s a mix of outstanding content, world class animation and a great team that makes Disney a class apart and one of the best animation studios in the world.

I will proudly say that Disney is the inspiration and the bedrock on which Green Gold has formed.

Hanuman vs Mahiravana
Hanuman vs Mahiravana poster

How did the idea of Green Gold Animation germinate?

As a kid, I was always infatuated by comics and would easily loose myself in this world. Cartoons were the other exciting world that I would live in. But as I grew up, the realities of life shifted my focus and I moved towards engineering and work. But somewhere these exciting worlds were very much alive and kicking inside me. In the US, I had the chance to experience animatic much closely and the experience made me realise the dream of venturing into the world of animation.

I would say Mr. Walt Disney has been my biggest inspiration and his force made me dream big, helped me take risks, motivated me when I lost hope and pushed me when the time came for creating exciting content.

When I ventured back in 2001 in India, what I basically realised was that it was a challenging time, there was a great scope of animated content requirement and a greater demand for its consumption. This started Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd.

There are numerous cartoons shows and channels. So why do you think, ‘Chhota Bheem’ has managed to stand out from the crowd?

Chhota Bheem is an inspiration from Bheema of Mahabharata. The concept was thought with a single point of view to create an Indian show which will have the right mix of entertainment, action, fun and very story that teaches kids to be positive, humble, caring, respectful, and overall be happy and cheerful. These aspects made the show popular and Chhota Bheem dear to his fans.

Do you think there is a need for more Bollywood celebs to come out and back the animation industry in India?

Collectively we all should come together and promote the animation industry in India. This is the next sunshine industry and packs with it loads of creative flows and exciting stories that entertain everyone. At Green Gold we are producing two movies this year starting with Hanuman vs Mahiravana releasing on 6th July in 3D followed by Chhota Bheem Kungfu Dhamaka again a 3D movie by end of this year.

Chhota Bheem & Friends

Chhota Bheem & Friends

As a career, animation is a very niche field. Being an expert, what guidance would you give to those keen on joining the industry?

Animation is no more a niche field. There is a lot happening here and there is more to come. I would always tell my team to believe in their work and work hard. Hence I would tell the same to all who are joining this exciting field and dream big.

Finally, having been in the field for so long, what do you have to say about the current state of animation in India, as opposed to when you joined it?

Animation in India has grown by leaps and bound. I have seen a great movement in animation from the early days I started, to Chhota Bheem and now Hanuman vs Mahiravana. The field has become dynamic and the stores have become more creative and spellbound. No doubt there is great future in Indian animation and we have just started.

Viewer Question

(This one’s from the mother of a 7-year-old, whose daughter is a regular viewer Chhota Bheem) Since kids follow their cartoon heroes closely, don’t you think Chhota Bheem should be shown going to school much more often in the show? It would be encouraging to kids as well.

All I can say is that we have created Chhota Bheem to entertain kids and to give them a good time. Hence we would like to create exciting stories and give the kids the best in entertainment. Having said that, yes we will surely note the suggestion and will try our best to include it in our stories.