Company Name- Chhota Bheem
Founder- Rajiv Chilaka
Chhota Bheem is the name of an animated character created by Mr. Rajiv Chilaka. First aired in India on Pogo TV in 2008, this cartoon series of the same name has been one of the most popular children’s shows on Indian Television channels. Chhota Bheem has been the proud recipient of the “Best Animated TV Series Award” at the Golden Cursor Awards, 2009 being held in Mumbai.
The show initially started as a 13-episode television series in 2008, then got extended owing to its huge popularity and 277 episodes have been aired till date, along with 26 television movies and 3 full length feature films already released and a fourth movie titled “Chhota Bheem – Kung Fu Dhamaka” is ready to be in theaters soon. The “Chhota Bheem” brand was evaluated at around Rupees 300 Crore in 2013 with its large fan following and over 500 products merchandized in its name along with books, toys, comics, children’s utilities and many others.
Rajiv Chilaka, also known as Sitarama Rajiv Chilakalapudi, is the younger son of eminent technocrat Madhusudan Rao Chilaka and hailed from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. He did his schooling from Hyderabad Public School and graduated with a BE degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Osmania University, Hyderabad in 1995. Rajiv Chilaka subsequently went to study for his Master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Missouri at Kansas City, USA and also worked there for three years as a software engineer.
His childhood fascination with cartoons and animation led him to switch careers and he joined the Academy of Art University at San Francisco, USA to study animation as a subject.
After coming back to India, Rajiv Chilaka founded Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd. in 2001 to pursue his passion in the field.
In the beginning, he struggled to secure work as Indian animation industry was almost non-existent and was unable to compete with the more advanced international offerings both from Japan and USA, among others. Most indigenous animation work done in India were based on mythology and there as hardly any original creative ideas.
Amidst these detrimental issues, Rajiv Chilaka was able to showcase his company’s potential by creating children’s animations series named ‘Krishna’ followed by “Vikram Betal”, which were aired on Pogo TV, the kid’s channel owned by Turner International. Impressed with his dedication to the craft and the quality of his productions, Pogo TV was willing to give another chance to Rajiv Chilakia and his company. Thus “Chhota Bheem” was aired in 2008 for the first time on the channel to unprecedented popularity for an Indian indigenous cartoon series.
The Success Story
Rajiv Chilakia had prepared the concept of the “Chhota Bheem” character since the year 2004. He took his time perfecting the character, story outlines, settings, supporting casts and other details so that he can deliver his best work to the public. At the time of “Chhota Bheem’s” release in 2008, Rajiv’s company Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd. was only contracted for thirteen episodes.
The Pogo Channel was set to go off air shortly afterwards due to it not making enough profit for sustenance. But such was the reception and popularity of the cartoon series that it bought the channel back from the brink and the “Chhota Bheem” series was continued to run for over 200 successful episodes.
The universal appeal of the character lay in its easily relatable characters, straightforward plots and simple language easily understood by children. Even though Rajiv Chilakia’s original idea had been to present “Chhota Bheem” as the early-life story of the great Pandava warrior-prince from the epic Mahabharata with similar attributes of strength and valor, it was later changed to a simpler form for more diversity in its setting.
He was also influenced with his own childhood memories of reading Tintin, Amar Chitra Katha and other superhero titles along with watching the popular Disney shows.
“Chhota Bheem” is set in the fictitious town of Dholakpur where the main character “Bheem” resides along with his many friends. There are seven important members of the team including Bheem, Chutki, Jaggu, Kalia, Raju, Bholu and Dholu. All of them appear regularly in almost every episode of the show as the protagonist, antagonist and comedic characters along with a plethora of others playing different roles according to the storylines.
There is no specified timeline and the stories routinely incorporate diverse plots and themes from the medieval times to the modern age with all its inventions and technologies. The idea is to entertain the kids with absorbing, eye-catching visuals showing the ultimate victory of good over evil and the superhero Chhota Bheem prevailing over everyone at the end.
Indian festivals according to their celebration periods in the year are also routinely shown and are various competitions depicted to be happening in and around Dholakpur in “Chhota Bheem’s” numerous episodes and movies.
Chhota Bheem’s huge success can be attributed to the creativity and originality of Rajiv Chilakia and his team of animators at Green Gold Animation, also to the professional marketing and promotional campaigns undertaken after the initial success.
- Pogo TV’s extension of the initial contract with Rajiv Chilakia’s company, showing their belief in his talent and hard work to come up with what would eventually become India’s first successful original animated cartoon series, on par with the international shows in terms of popularity in the country
- The initial simplification of the story, plot and character backgrounds to make the serial easily understandable to children in the age group of six to twelve years, the original target audience of the show
- Launching of spinoff shows, comic books, mobile games, products and merchandize related to the popular character Chhota Bheem was also instrumental in further spreading its reach among children
- The show had also expanded to overseas markets in Sri Lanka (where it was aired as “Chandi”) it is also a popular children’s show in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran contributing to its overall popularity in the region
- Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd has also opened its own franchise stores all over the country to sell “Chhota Bheem” merchandize further adding to the character’s popularity
“Chhota Bheem” is currently India’s most popular children’s show with over forty million viewers in the country. The brand has become increasingly popular among the children and its episodes are still among the most watched features on Indian television. With such loyal viewership and fan following, “Chhota Bheem” is perfectly poised for furthering its popularity and brand value to compete internationally in the near future.
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