Today when I look back, I believe it was sheer destiny. As a youngster working successfully with the Government on an international project and handling finance, there was a part of me that always wanted something more innovative and challenging. This is when, due to a chain of positive incidents, initial brainstorming on a new venture started and I forayed into the animation industry as the CFO of Toonz Media Group from day one of its inception in 1999. Getting involved deeply, I realized that the industry needs a perfect amalgamation of artistic excellence and strategic thinking. Anyhow, it was during the period of recession in 2001, when the industry got affected and Toonz was too not spared from this rough time.
"We have a lot of great talent, but not enough in numbers to uplift the quality of our animation in par with the international expectations"
That is when the investor family asked me if I could take over as the CEO and though I did not have any preparedness. I said yes, to take-up such a gigantic responsibility, maybe because of the undeniable passion that I had inside me. From then the journey initiated, the journey of understanding the artistic sensibilities and the business nuances. Filled with challenges on both personal and organizational level, the initial years was not smooth but remarkably my wonderful team always had my back. So many years down the line, now I assume that though I had made some wrong decisions, the right ones were more in number and scale. So in the big picture, it helped the organization.
A Dearth of Talented Professionals
We have a lot of great talent, but not enough in numbers to uplift the quality of our animation in par with the international expectations. I attribute this scarcity to mediocre training handed over in the most of the animation academies and the handful of great talent that you currently see in India is the product of their own personal effort, research, and practice. Having a bracket of talented learners around us, it's obvious if they are polished by the right trainers and mentors, they will shine in the industry. In most of the animation schools, the kids undergo a course which is designed without any vision and by the time they finish the course, they might have learned some software, but not the art or medium of animation. Also, more parents and students instead of considering animation as their last option should realize the possibilities of taking up animation as a career. Their attitude will compel the animation schools to change their ways of providing training.
Scopes and Job- Readiness
The animation industry is at a phase where the possibilities are limitless. The medium of animation is now not used just to create a TV series or feature film. It has branched out into gaming, apps, AR, VR, IR, licensing and merchandising, and many others. This is a time when every product or experience conceived goes through a visual or designing process before it is finalized and executed. But unfortunately, most of the young animators and designers who come out of the academies are a far cry from what is expected by the industry. The digital boom has urged the blooming of thousands of animation schools across the country in an indiscriminate way.
Most of the schools fail to render neither a strong foundation nor substantial exposure needed to become competent and once they are out into the real world, they either end of taking up a low-paying job or turn into faculties in numerous academies. The only way to rectify this is through the perfect training and exposing the students to the scopes and possibilities of the industry. Every course curriculum has to be set by an expert body which focuses on the holistic artistic development of the student. The education should start by creating a strong base on which every artist can build his own style eventually. There needs to be a bureaucratic realignment in the accreditation process for all animation academies in the country.
The Way Ahead
Whether it is for entertainment, edutainment or pure education, the medium of animation and animation related fields are going to be required increasingly. Kids' broadcasters who focused on dubbed content earlier have changed their strategies in the last decade and urge to create Indian content with a desi flavor. The launch of new age broadcasters like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and so on in India is drastically changing the animation content creation and consumption in the Indian sub-continent. Creators and broadcasters are finding strategies to elongate the shelf-life of every show by creating brands out of them. With this in mind, an array of products and experiences related to this content are also envisaged and executed. Thus, India is looking at a quickly expanding horizon in animation.
Henceforth, as per my observation and popular studies, the intellectual capacity of every generation is better than its preceding one. So, the good news is that the current student community stands a better chance to be more talented than my generation. The only difference is that the competition in the current generation is hundredfold compared to its previous generation. Nonetheless, if you stick on with dedication and an incessant striving to polish your skills, you can soon achieve creative as well as financial satisfaction. Do not join a studio impulsively. Research about it, ask your seniors and mentors and make sure that it is the right place for you. Once you have made the decision of joining a place, put your complete focus on giving your fullest to that place. Otherwise, you would soon be sidelined, for there are a thousand other artists behind you. Above all, be humane and be in touch with your innerself.