Rajiv Chilaka’s animation has been India’s answer to Walt Disney. The Chhota Bheem creator has now set eyes on the US market, and he’s now all set to enthral kids with his new series SuperBheem. As a kid, Rajiv was completely fascinated by the world of comics. In 1979, his father took him to his first animated movie “The Jungle book” and there he fell in love immediately. Soon, Doordarshan started airing several cartoon series and Rajiv never missed any. “I always wanted to meet my favourite animated characters, but realized that none of them live in India. It made me wonder, why India doesn’t have its own animation shows or its own super heroes. It’s due to this deep desire to make something original that I setup Green Gold,” shares Rajiv on his start-up story.
While doing his Masters in Computer Science in the USA, Rajiv fell upon a book, which was about the life of Walt Disney. The book instantly inspired him and he felt a need to replicate what he had achieved. Later, Rajiv attended Academy of Art, San Francisco to learn animation. And, soon after he finished school, he setup Green Gold in India.
On out of all the characters, why he shortlisted Bheem, Rajiv is quick to add, “Bheem, from the Mahabharata, has been one of my favourite characters and I felt he resonates with kids the most. He has a child like soul, yet strong.”
When Rajiv started Green Gold, members of his family put together Rs 75 Lakh as initial investment. The idea has always been to develop a 360 degree environment for content and create business units along with each platform. The company soon took to theatrical distribution. “We now have a full fledged business unit. Initially, we joined hands with PVR and Yash Raj, but after producing four feature films, now we are on our own. Our merchandise production is a gigantic business, and every product is a miniature business, so we work with numerous vendors,” states Rajiv.
At present, Chhota Bheem is valued at Rs 300- 400 crore. Today after 15 years, Green Gold is a financially stable company clocking 20 per cent Year on Year(YoY) growth. Since 2012, the company has been cash positive. It has now started a new studio in Los Angeles, USA. “We are looking at adding talent over there to cater to international markets and a wider audience. Right now, we are about 500 strong and growing rapidly,” claims Rajeev. On keeping the content fresh, Rajiv says, “Kids believe, they have a world of their own. They are far more thoughtful and discerning than what we can imagine, especially this generation. They are exposed to so much of information, so we can’t fool them at any level. Even if you are creating an imaginary world for them, it has to be believable and based on strong reasoning.”
(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)