How do you bring the public and private sector together, along with the centre and the state for the growth of the AVGC industry? In a panel at FICCI Frames 2023, Graphiti Multimedia founder and FICCI AVGC Forum co-chairman Munjal Shroff shared how his studio is creating a show in collaboration – a first of this kind – with GOI’s I&B ministry. In response, I&B secretary Apurva Chandra pointed out that for this collaboration, part of the marketing is done by Shroff so “the return also comes on what we are putting. So, if this experiment is successful, it opens doors for us to put in money, and that money is coming back.” Expecting the government to put in the money and not get anything in return will not work out.
He further revealed that the talks regarding DD Kids are going on, however, they are figuring out a model which will be beneficial not only for the animation industry but also the government as they will have to put in crores. He stressed on the fact that there should be a return on investment. A no profit no loss scenario is also viable.
The AVGC sector in India is rapidly growing and has the potential to make India a global content leader. With a large and talented workforce, favourable government policies, and increasing investment in technology, the sector has the ability to provide high-quality content that can compete with global players. This sector has already seen success with several Indian companies creating globally recognised content. However, challenges such as funding and infrastructure still need to be addressed for the sector to reach its full potential. Overall, the AVGC sector presents a promising opportunity for India to establish itself as a major player in the global content market. Now with AVGC policy coming in place, what’s next?
This question was addressed by a panel that comprised of Cosmos Maya CEO Megha Tata, FICCI AVGC Forum chair & Punnaryug CEO Ashish Kulkarni, Deloitte partner Jehil Thakkar, Technicolor India country head Biren Ghose, Shroff and Chandra. The panel was moderated by Primus Partners MD Sameer Jain.
Chandra said that the industry stakeholders themselves have worked with the government to create the AVGC Task Force and push for policies in this sector. The core of making manpower and talent available are skilling and education. To facilitate this, Chandra and his Task Force are in touch with GOI’s education department, NCERT, and other stakeholders like All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to incorporate AVGC-related courses into school curriculums. He revealed that The National Centre for Excellence (NCOE) will launch soon in Mumbai where they want the private sector to be a part of it as that will bring in more flexibility in terms of operations, hiring faculty and manpower, and for designing courses. “We also want to create [at least] six regional centres for NCOE so that we can bring more and more people to meet the needs of the industry,” he said.
Shroff’s show – which is being done in collaboration with the government – will have some unsung stories from India’s independent struggle. “We are focusing on north-east and women characters as well in this show,” he revealed. “As we dived into this, we realised that there are so many such stories. In our own research, we found lots of amazing children’s literature that exist in virtually every state which needs to be brought out, This content resonates not just within our country, but even outside our country. There’s an opportunity for every state as well to look at their own culture, their own stories down the street, and help bring out those kinds of stories. There’s potential for some very unique content. And there’s a market now.”
Speaking about his experience of promoting this sector, FICCI’s Ashish Kulkarni – who has been championing the cause of the AVGC industry for years – explained why it is difficult to get a policy for the AVGC industry. “Some of the states have the AVGC vertical under the culture ministry, some have it under the tourism ministry, some have it under the IT ministry,” he shared. AVGC is overshadowed by a lot of other industries which is why there is a need for a separate policy on this sector. “We are making rounds at media and entertainment schools, universities and state boards, and asking them to start this programme. So collectively it becomes an ecosystem. Then, the critical mass of artists will get created and once that critical mass is there, a good studio from somewhere would like to have a branch there.”
The AVGC industry has nothing to do with manpower, it is to do with talent, stated Biren Ghose. “It is about converting manpower into highly specialised skill sets,” he said. “If we want to be global in what we do, we need to reorganise India by lines of craft, because every frame of film that anyone on this stage makes, has almost 12 to 14 different specialisations.” He also objected to the term “back-end work” referring to the AVGC sector, “because many of us do end to end work.” Explaining what his team did at Bengaluru’s Centre for Excellence, he said, “What we did there was make sure that we get the equipment set which could not be afforded by the industry so that small, medium and large companies can do photogrammetry and create digital humans.”
According to Megha Tata, “the evolution in the creation of the Indian content has happened, but in my view, there is some kind of plateau we have reached right now.” She pointed out that everybody desires to create that Indian piece of content which travels the world and becomes a phenomenon, like the Korean content has become. “But in the world of animation, there is a limitation on multiple levels,” she said. “One is talent and the other is the economics of running a business.” She believes that we need these different policy recommendations to converge, to help create businesses which are sustainable, “so we are able to bring the best talent, create content which cuts across not only the audiences in India but also globally.”
FICCI Frames 2023 is being held in Powai, Mumbai from 3 to 5 May.