‘Chhota Bheem’ creator Rajiv Chilaka ventures into toy manufacturing with new factory in Telangana

The Indian toy industry is getting a new player in Benny And Bunny Toys India, which is a venture by none other than the man who created the single most popular kids’ iconic character of ‘Chhota Bheem’ in today’s day and age – Rajiv Chilaka, along with his partner and long time friend Arvind Ayyappa.

“I have for long desired to create toys and with Benny and Bunny Toys India, I can now live that dream. The name of factory was kept keeping in mind that we will be catering to kids and it should be something that can easily come to mind,” expounds Rajiv.

Rajiv-ChilakaThe Indian toy industry is a major market for both domestic and international players, owing to low penetration (0.5 per cent) as well as growth in the size of the middle class. India’s toy industry has a meager share of 0.51 per cent of the global market. The Indian toy market, whose size is estimated at about just a tad above Rs 10,000 crore, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent in the next couple of years.

In recent years, cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune have become the most important manufacturing sites of the Indian toy industry. Among the local manufacturers in India about 59 per cent still focus on the production of cheap and unbranded toys which appeals to the price-sensitive Indian consumers. But Rajiv clearly has bigger plans and wants to be a leader in the toy manufacturing space in India in the coming years.

“The idea is to set up infrastructure in India to resonate with the thought process of Narendra Modi to ‘Make in India’. Besides soft toys related to our IPs we will also have a catalogue of various other characters and toys that can be explored. We have met a few international companies too, and within the next 6 months we would be in a better position to cater to their needs as well,” beams Rajiv.

Only 20 per cent of the Indian market is served by Indian manufacturers, with the rest being accounted for by imports mainly from China and Italy, which offer wider variety at lower prices and attract children of all ages. These imports include fun games, electronic toys, board games, construction toys, stuffed toys, educational games and toy cars.

It’s been less than six months that the factory has been set-up in a 10,000 sq feet area in Apparel park, Telangana where lot of manufacturers are already present and skilled labour is easily available. “I was surprised to see such high quality of labour being available in India. We are currently importing fabrics from China, but all the stitching and stuffing is being done locally,” he adds.

The ‘Chhota Bheem’ creator is still trying to figure out the fabrics to start complete production in India itself. There are 50 employees currently working in the factory, 30 of which are part time and 20 are full time. “We will soon start employing permanent people. The factory started functioning on 2 May and the first line of toys that we are working on is in the Plush range. So, as and when we get more and more demand we will scale up to 50 full-time employees,” states Rajiv.

Currently Green Gold is a client for this company, and the factory is manufacturing Chhota Bheem and friends’ characters, which will then be followed by Arjun – The Prince of Bali. “We have soft launched a new batch of Chhota Bheem and you will see that there is a much better value for money and its much softer and very kid friendly,” he informs. 2000 soft toys have been delivered to Green Gold Stores already.

With the setting up of Benny And Bunny Toys India, Rajiv has played a master stroke as now with a factory and his already flourishing retail stores under his other company Green Gold Animation, he would now stand a better chance to save import duty and cost of production, while having more control over the products directly under his purview.