Animation in India– a disillusioned illusion

by Mamta

 Posted on 06-Dec-2015 02:47 PM

The Indian animation industry has surely come a long way since its first fully animated production,The Banyan Deer, in 1957. Our media claims that it has transcended national boundaries with a highly skilled taskforce, state-of-the-art technology and low cost of production.The buzz goes that Hollywood blockbusters like Shrek, Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3, Harry Potter movies, Avatar and many more would not have seen the light of day without India’s contribution to their animation and visual effects (VFX)…The Indian animation industry has generated multi-million dollars in revenue, is steadily growing, waiting to boom…Quite a vivid array of colors !Pretty much like a cartoon…isn’t it? Well, the truth is that we are on a self-glorification trip.

As an animator-in-training who intends to pursue a gratifying career in the field, I have always pondered over a rather pressing question ; while our ‘highly competent’ industry is a ‘global force’ to reckon with, providing VFX content to almost every other Oscar-nominated flick, why haven’t we been able to produce anything of Hollywood proportions in India as yet ? Is our media just touting a fledgling industry as the world’s next Pixar? After all these accolades and recognition all we could trickle out was a mediocre Chhota Bheem for our domestic market?

 While animation was embraced and nurtured with love globally, we, in India, failed to realize and tap its potential.Not many Bollywood big-wigs invest in animation due to negligible public demand.The audience in our country is not even aware of the fact that animation is beyond cartoons.Duh, we see our movies for our favourite stars …who cares for what was created on the green screen behind them? Does it even matter that visual stunners like Baahubali and Ra One are marvels of animation?

Coming to cartoons, aren’t they meant for kids?That is the notion contrived by our blissfully unaware audience.We adults, in India, put up a hoax of derisiveness at cartoons while still laughing out hard at ‘Tom and Jerry’ on the sly.Hence,the targeted age-group for animated productions is usually reduced to pre-pubescent kids.That leaves an equally pint-sized budget for an animated production.Kids are little angels anyway…not many will bother about a choppy cartoon character with subminimal movements.Why put in more money?

India has been dubbed the outsourcing hub for animation content.But the kind of work we are mostly entrusted with, by animation moguls, will certainly not win us any bragging rights on an international platform.Our animation studios, barring a few big names, mostly acquire low-end computer graphics (CG), VFX and gaming jobs for us.The truth is that despite claims, not many of our studios have the cutting-edge VFX or animation technology to give the desired high-end output.Not a single Indian animation firm could make it to the top 50 list of influential animation studios around the world.And believe me, our global employers are fully aware of this fact. We are passed down secondhand jobs that are too trivial for them.

There is not much better news about schools for Animation Studies in India. Students have gone to the extent of lambasting their ‘technical’ training. There is hardly any effort put in teaching actual animation skills to students by our oh-so reputed animation schools. They simply teach the use of tools and current software to accomplish sub-par CG and VFX tasks.The training imparted by these schools is entry –level in exchange for thousands of Rupees as their fees.And the unguaranteed placement that awaits after completing a course might not even be in the animation industry! With so many animation firms shutting shop in a short span, it comes as no surprise that more talented animators from India are headed West.

The Indian animation industry was a non-existent entity a few decades back.We do have one now but it hasn’t really taken off. It surely is sending ripples across the borders all set to generate a humungous wave.We have no dearth of gifted human resources waiting in the wings.All we need are a few investors who are passionate, aware and just as willing to spread the awareness about the scope of animation in India.With their aid,a few groundbreaking animated flicks can relaunch and help us soar our flight of fantasy (no pun intended) to dizzying heights.


Photo from Flickr

TAGS : animation india jobs vfx computer graphics cg

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