In this Industry Spotlight with Creative First, Ashish Kulkarni, Founder Punnaryug Artvision and AVGC industry veteran, joined Lohita Sujith, Sr. Director, Copyright & Digital Economy, Motion Picture Association for an enlightening conversation on the history and future of animation, visual effects, and gaming in India and abroad.
The conversation primarily focused on Ashish’s rich experience and on-the-ground work in changing policy and building educational infrastructure to grow and develop AVGC in India with a ready workforce.
Though he has decades of experience in animation, Ashish actually started with brand building, advertising, and marketing. It was a meeting with a cartoonist in the United States that spurred Ashish’s curiosity regarding what India could be for the world of animation. In 1998, he left Mumbai to start animation in Hyderabad at a time when animation was still hand-drawn. He explained the difficulties of the growth path. Over the years, he interacted with many experts across the globe in order to develop animation in India to a world-class level. In 2002, he got his first Disney series, and from there animation outsourcing grew tremendously.
Ashish spent a great deal of time and energy developing India’s animation skills, creating educational programs and seminars in more than 400 cities pan-India.
After some time, Ashish’s focus moved to a more formal education platform. Ashish pointed out that now, in every major city in the world it is possible to find Indians working in animation. This is inspirational considering it was once considered a non-traditional career path.
During the discussion, Ashish gave a broad overview of the history of the animation industry in India, starting with the entrance of Cartoon Network and dubbed content, and moving on to high rating Indian animation series such as Chhota Bheem. Ashish explained that one of the difficulties with animation was that viewership alone isn’t enough, but rather the marketing impact of ads—which makes it hard.
He narrated the genesis of the upcoming National Centre of Excellence in Maharashtra. Through his hard work, he also influenced policies regarding the qualifications and practices in higher education for animation. He discussed the impact of this on other states as well, and how many other states are changing their own policies and building Centre of Excellences of their own.
Next, he spoke about heavy-lifting he and others did over long and disciplined calls during COVID to discuss what AVGC really needs in terms of government support. This resulted in a lengthy document proposing policy, the implementation of a task force, and identifying infrastructural needs. In addition to a national policy, they also developed a sample state policy to help states to develop their own AVGC parks, villages and funds.
The conversation wrapped up with Ashish reminding the viewer that India is a very large market with a huge consumption pattern. It’s important for the talent pool to find work within their vicinity and contribute to the creative economy. Then, he affirmed that an IP needs to be recognized as an asset with proper valuation.
Overall, Ashish Kulkarni & Lohita Sujith covered many aspects of AVGC in India and had an extremely insightful conversation tapping into Ashish’s wealth of knowledge and thoughtful perspective.