‘Chhota Bheem’ new episodes to arrive on POGO this summer after a gap of three years

Chhota Bheem fans can rejoice, as the Dholakpur hero is all set to come back with new episodes on POGO, this summer, after a gap of three years. 

Since its inception in the Indian animation industry, Chhota Bheem has been a game changer with a humongous fan-following across the globe. More than 72 per cent of Indian kids are aware of the show and follow Chhota Bheem in his actions and values. 

Commenting on the new development, Green Gold Animation founder and CEO Rajiv Chilaka told Animation Xpress, “I am delighted to inform the loyal fans of Chhota Bheem that brand new episodes of Chhota Bheem will be back on POGO. It’s been three years since we have produced episodic content of Chhota Bheem in 2D and we all are very excited to be working again on India’s #1 Animated Character in its original avatar. About 52 episodes of Chhota Bheem will be produced in 2020 which means we are going to have a very busy year.”

After all these years, the graph of the ‘brand Bheem’ has only gone higher! It has grown from strength to strength giving birth to other successful IPs – Super Bheem, Mighty Little Bheem and the very recent musical Chhota Bheem in Jadooi Adventure live theatrical adaptation apart from the feature film Chhota Bheem: Kung Fu Dhamaka

All rights are reserved by Green Gold Animation

After the 2D version made its mark in the animation space, Green Gold Animation had explored many dimensions of the IP, and also forayed into 3D animation to make the character and the stories more appealing to the younger audience.

Well, we are now waiting to see what Chhota Bheem does new!

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The Jungle Book: Two visions, two creators, one story

We wonder if Rudyard Kipling ever imagined that his fantasy tale of a boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India would be told through various mediums. We wonder if Kipling as he was penning the story, ever thought that it would see the light of day on celluloid and be up for global consumption.

Jungle Book and Mowgli

Based on the famous Kipling story, The Jungle Book and Mowgli mixed real actors with computer-generated animals to tell this fantasy-adventure story.

Having inspired movies like Elephant Boy (1937), Rikki-tikki-tavi (1975), The White Seal (1975), Mowgli Brother (1976), Zoltan Korda’s Jungle Book (1942), Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967), Adventures of Mowgli (1967 to 1971), the 96- minuter feature film (1973) and the Japanese anime Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli (1989), Kipling’ Jungle Book has its made its mark as an absolute classic that stood the test of time and regaled generations.

Recent adaptations like Disney’s Jungle Book and Netflix’s Mowgli demonstrated how two seemingly analogous films can still vary in storytelling, tonality, CGI technology and the directorial approach.

While Favreau’s version was stylised as a family entertainer that was deliberately diluted to dovetail well with Kids’ viewing standards, Serkis’ Mowgli was a much darker retelling of the story that featured a more raw, violent and adult undertones in its treatment. As it were, turns out that was not the only difference!

Interestingly Andy Serkis’ Mowgli was in development before Disney’s The Jungle Book was even announced. But the Disney film was able to finish the production sooner.  We recently caught up with the senior creature animator Dhanu Muddikuppam who had co-incidentally worked for both the movies. While he served for a shorter amount of time for Serkis’ Mowgli, he played a prominent role in the making of Favreau’s The Jungle Book.

He shares, “Mainly I was there in Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book more than the Andy Serkis’ Mowgli. I was only involved in the beginning of the process for Mowgli.”

Elaborating on the difference in the approach of depicting the animals as in the popular performance capture technology in Mowgli vis-a-vis the more naturalistic portrayal in The Jungle Book, he shares, “It depends on the silent choice of the director you know.. Jon Favreau emphasised upon realistic performance. He wanted it as natural as real animals so when you do that you try to actually cut down the whole thing, you don’t want to push too much stylisation because then it becomes a bit cartoonish. When it’s real, it almost like ‘less is more kind of deal’. In Jungle book, we were trying to avoid so many accents deliberately that if you notice they’re not actually mouthing each and every line. We have tried to put realistic behaviour of animals and just added lip-synch to it. We did not go down the route of getting them to mouth each and every dialogue which you can see in other Jungle book versions.”

Highlighting the subtlety and importance of toning down and not completely replicating the facial expressions of the actors onto the animals, he reflects, “So if you see the Jungle Book they have even toned down the acting to even more minimum and not gone the documentary style like Lion King.”

Enlightening us about the process of previsualization in the preproduction stage, he shared, “But for both of them, they gave us a lot of references and starting points as what they were aiming for. Before the movie, they conducted experiments and tests as in animating a few creatures; with acting or sometimes without acting.. Naturalistic, realistic performances as to how a lion would behave or a tiger would do act. We did that in the Jungle Book basically, finding the right balance like what works well. The amount of acting that would suit rather than pushing it too much on the face. So finding the right balance and we kind of followed the same style for the entire movie.”

While they were seemingly identical films made by different studios, within two years of each other, there was a world of a difference in the twin films. There are balladeers and detractors for both styles yet these movies showed how extraordinary classics can be brought to life using modern technology and artistry.

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Studio of the Week | Studio Durga

Name : Studio Durga

About : We are the first Indian animation studio that creates anime, or 2D hand-drawn animation in the art-style of Japanese manga comics, wholly independent of foreign collaboration. We believe in telling powerful stories through the medium of animation, and design original entertainment that can be enjoyed by teens and young adults.

Location : New Delhi

Projects : Karmachakra: Episode Zero, an 80-minute film is our debut project under this freshly-formed studio, expected to finish production in mid-2020.

1. What are the current trends you’re seeing in the Indian Animation space?

As the cultural materialists would say, artists and their art cannot happen if they do not have a stable and abundant financial background. In today’s world market however, economic strata has more to do with the league of university you end up going to rather than the brand value of the company you are likely to work for. In other words, not only is there a disparity between your qualifications and your acceptance in a certain firm, largely dependent on the job market, but also a widely observable break between your institution of training and your actual skills, largely dependent on yourself. So in the world of free information, there are many ways to subvert the system, some of which can, in a freak chance, prove to be eventually profitable.

Within this market, India has two distinct spaces. When it comes to animation, there is the corporate framework that primarily churns out kids’ content, either for the Indian audience or for foreign companies. That’s the money-raker, even in markets where there is a sufficiently developed parallel non-kids market, such as Japan’s. Alongside, there are independent small-businesses like ours, and there are quite a few, who are putting Indian animation on the world map in a way different than the corporates by taking the pains to showcase a broader and more evolved original animated product, which may or may not eventually be of interest for the buyers/distributors to license or promote, and largely depends on when (and if) they aware of its potential and foresee its commercial viability. Both the art style and variety of stories within Japanese anime have a wide appeal in the Indian animation fan base, which includes us, and so we decided to go for the same.

2. What are the challenges in this ecosystem?

There is a certain break between what we’ve grown up to admire about foreign entertainment and how most of us (are widely conditioned to) conduct ourselves in the Indian creatives industry. Broadly speaking, the socio-economic movements of say the US, UK or Japan, are both chronologically and essentially different from those in India’s history. So both the Indian market and the (nascent) ecosystem work differently for people trying to pursue creatives in a fashion other than the style of mainstream media, and more so when the work contains a certain level of integrity in terms of global aesthetic trends or emotional maturity. Simply put, there is an alienation that is felt by many creators similar to us, many of whom hope to escape it by altogether abandoning the thought of working in India and for the Indian audience. Then again, it’s the age of the internet and of a radically aware and up-to-date global audience, including Indians. It would be a waste to not leverage this phenomenon, and it’s one of the reasons why we went social although the project isn’t funded yet.

We’ve found it extremely difficult to find people with the specific skills for this project, mostly due to the lack of inclination or need to flex the muscle given the nearly non-existent scope for 2D hand-drawn animation within India for people who want to make a livelihood out of it. Besides, our product was rejected by Indian agents/aggregators (we couldn’t contact the platforms directly) who sell to every major broadcasting/OTT platform, for fear that it will be a financial failure with the Indian audience because it does not contain titillation, graphic violence, oversimplified plots and other massy elements, although they were thrilled with the quality of the product and praised us for following international benchmarks in animation. Apart from humongous production efforts that all of us at the studio share, also being the producer who has invested money in the production of this movie (I don’t like when anybody works free for me) since day 1 more than two years ago, and not having made a single penny from it till date, I have realized well that there is no other way this could have been done. Pre-destination and free will have become two sides of the same coin, and so ‘motivation’ has proved to hold little significance to me.

3. What’s one message you’d like to share with the aspiring enthusiasts?

Don’t wait for things to change, and don’t compromise or settle for less. If it’s anime or manga you want to eventually make, refine your skills towards that direction, instead of getting stuck with something you are not really into. The ‘odd-jobs phase’ is important for you to understand how the market runs and realize the value of money within it, but it shouldn’t be the arbiter of your entire career. It’s not necessary for everybody to take the path of most resistance that we have taken and create content like this within India, there is a lot of scope abroad, so if you feel you will blossom and flourish better, go ahead and do that. Almost every creative product out there has taken years of dedication and hard work on part of the creators to make it what it is, and an unbelievably long process to bring it to you. Respect that journey, and continue to try and fail, because it’s really all you can do. Don’t compete with others, compete with yourself. Build momentum.

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In memoriam: Arnab Chaudhuri

It has been almost a month since the unfortunate demise of industry veteran Arnab Chaudhuri.

While there was an immediate sense of shock and sadness throughout the industry, soon people from across the world started sharing their condolences while reminiscing the good times that they have spent working or collaborating with the Arjun director and how he inspired so many of them.

In a mail to the director’s family, Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra mentioned, “I remember Arnab so clearly. I remember everything about that film, because it meant so much to me get it right. And getting it right he did.”

The aforementioned film was a live action documentary piece for MRV – the Mahindra Research Valley, on which Chaudhuri had worked.

The chairman further adds, “I mourn Arnab’s passing all the more because he was a part of India’s creative fraternity. One is left with a feeling of real sadness at what the world has missed with his premature passing and what he could yet have accomplished, had he been granted a few years more.”

Arnab Chaudhuri speaking at Kochi Design Week, 2019

As we had mentioned earlier, his most notable contribution to the Indian animation industry was Arjun: The Warrior Prince. Alongside Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV, Arnab Chaudhuri directed one of the most iconic animated feature films from India.

Says Ronnie Screwvala, “Arnab and I go back over a decade to when he was contemplating moving back to India from Hong Kong to pursue his dream in animation and movie making. Arjun is his legacy to the highest level of quality animation and story telling coming out of India and have only fond memories when we worked together. His talent, attitude and creativity was unique and he will be missed by all.”

The film was released in 2012 as a Disney film since Disney had acquired UTV. The same year, Arjun: The Warrior Prince earned a Best Feature Film nominations at numerous prestigious international animation festivals. From Annecy to Holland International and Ottawa International, the list was long. In India too, it had brilliant reviews even though, it ran for a limited time.

But what actually put the stamp of excellence on the feature was that – Walt Disney, U.S submitted five films that year for the Oscars and Arjun: The Warrior Prince was one of them. Putting up an animated feature which was acquired and not created by Walt Disney or Pixar, the companies which create some of the best animation in the world, is a clear indicator that Disney considered Chaudhuri’s film as a potential Oscar winner, and it was in the long list.  What is interesting is that it wasn’t an India submission, but the Walt Disney Worldwide submission.

The company screened the film at the prestigious El Capitain Theatre, released ads in LA Times and hugely backed it. In fact, the critic blogs at that time were truly appreciating it. Even Jerry Beck, the famous animation historian, wrote about it of being “a worthy possibility for nomination.” However, it was unfortunate that it had to be taken out of the short list running owing to a technical reason just a week before the shortlisted films were announced.

Right after that, John Lasseter of Pixar Studios, invited Chaudhuri to showcase the film at Pixar Studios in the U.S.A and even presented him with a small memento in the form of the film’s disc, thanking him for making the film. This was the first time that an Indian animated feature was being showcased at the Pixar Studios, in fact there has been none since then either.

Apart from his stint around Arjun: The Warrior Prince, Chaudhuri has been instrumental in other roles across brands.

At Turner, he held the position of senior creative for South Asia – Cartoon Network and Pogo. He helped create Turner’s first pre-school block in the region, Tiny TV, which was an instant hit.  Then, in late 2003, the team was apparently given 90 days to create and launch a totally new kids channel for India which required them to find a name and create an identity from the ground up.  The result was Pogo, which launched on 1 January, 2004.

Orion Ross was then the regional creative director for Turner Entertainment Networks Asia Pacific. He shares, “Arnab mocked up a logo animation early in the process to show everyone how it would work—nobody in management really understood the name until they saw it, but afterwards they were totally convinced.  Arnab directed a live action shoot to create the launch promos and channel branding, with real kids shouting, bouncing, flying and being covered in paint.  They loved every minute of it, because Arnab treated them all like his family and brought so much love to the set.  I think we won 17 Promax awards year.”

A still from ‘Marinate You’

Chaudhuri wrote and directed a menacing Tom and Jerry spot called Marinate You inspired by Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, which was performed by Channel [V]’s deep-voiced former creative director Rob Middleton. According to Ross, Chaudhuri brought his NID training, and his NID network, into play for Pogo’s new arts program M.A.D. (Music Art Dance).  He infused the show with his usual mix of attention to detail, a passion for excellence in design and execution, and irreverent counter-cultural comedy.  He was also at the heart of development for Turner’s co-production with Sesame Workshop, Galli Galli Sim Sim.

Says Ross, “Throughout his career working in children’s media, he never dumbed down his work or shied away from sophistication; if anything he was driven by a responsibility to make things extra special to engage, delight and inspire a young audience.”

Ross, who is now VP of original programming animation, media networks Europe and Africa, The Walt Disney Company further adds, “Arnab was a brave, boundary-pushing creative explorer who tackled every brief with heart, soul and wit—and a drive to always make something both fresh and excellent.  He made friends with everyone, learned from everyone, respected everyone—and then pushed everyone to do something better than they’d ever done before. I missed him when he left Turner to move back to India and direct Arjun—but I always knew he was on his way to bigger things and was incredibly happy he had this opportunity.  I remain profoundly grateful for the time we had working together, and for everything he taught me. Arnab remained a dear friend to the end and I am utterly bereft by his sudden passing.  He had so much more to give.”

During his time at Channel [V], as everywhere, he made a position for himself.

Famed actor Vinay Pathak had the opportunity to work with him during his time at the channel. Shares he, “Arnab Chaudhuri, my friend, buddy, and an ex colleague (at channel V) , was someone that I always aspired to be like. One very seldom comes across a creative mind like his. He was the head of promos when I joined channel V, and the impressions he’s made on me , are still intact and going to last forever. He was a true artist. Immensely talented , great visionary and a ‘Real Genius’. Genius is not a term I use loosely, but for Arnab, Genius is where the adjectives commence with for him. He had a gift of simplifying anything complex, and most creations are complicated. He’d indulge in anything that required improvement and would make it seem so easy, like a Gene Kelly’s uber machismo and that dancing grace.”

A shot from “Arjun:The Warrior Prince”

Even when he decided to part ways with Channel [V], the team rallied in support of his future endeavours. In a note to the internal team, then Channel V creative head APAC Rob Middleton said, “Arnab has made more than this mark here, he’s the epitome of everything that’s good about us. His incredible prolific ability…. constantly churning out the best in himself and all those around him is the stuff of legend. His belief in what we do and our reason for being inspired more than those working directly for him. I have seen depressed, down-beaten, ulcer-ridden salesmen come out of his office with a look on their faces normally reserved for television evangelists. When there was a problem, he beat away the drunken swine of finger pointers with a ‘how can I help?’ at once sobering them up and getting them to work together for the greater good. If he put his mind to it, I’m sure he could be leading the free world in a matter of months. He taught me a lot more than I could ever teach him about the idea of a team.”

Pathak concludes, “Arnab was a magician who could do/fix/create anything, but he never acknowledged that in his own polite, unassuming way. He didn’t know how to take a compliment. That’s the first thing I learned from him, because it was not a deficiency in his case, it was his elegance. I’ve always been in awe of my friend Arnab, and till date I remain so. He’s left us very soon, too too soon. It’s truly a huge loss, personal, and (let me tell ye) social. He was a true liberal, and how we need him now, and always.”

Apart from his career being a stellar one, Chaudhuri undoubtedly inspired a lot of individuals throughout his journey. According to one of his juniors at NID, after Chaudhuri had completed the course and would come visit the campus for some presentations, the entire college would know that he had come. In the message the junior says, “He was among those legendary super seniors who could start a party around him in 15 minutes!”

Another individual who was his junior at NID and had worked with him post that shared, “All of us who worked with him or within the creative platforms he put together, I think have variations of the same sense of having experienced something that left holding points for being irreverently serene with what happens. And not allow squalor or sloppiness in the application of self. He was way, way up there as an example, interacting with him however didn’t require a pedestal.”

All that said, the industry indeed has lost a true legend. Going by the testimonies of people he had worked with, irrespective of the time frame, Arnab Chaudhuri left an everlasting, somewhat surreal, yet a very real impression.

Of creativity and professional splendour, the demise of Arnab Chaudhuri will definitely leave a void in the Indian industry, but we hope his legacy continues to live!

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Animation studio Xilam acquires 50.1 per cent of Cube Creative

French animation house Xilam has finalised its acquisition of 50.1 per cent of the capital and voting rights in Cube Creative, a French CG and 3D animation studio. The acquisition will be consolidated in Xilam’s accounts as of 20 January 2020.

By joining forces with Xilam, Cube Creative will benefit from the strength of Xilam’s sales in France and abroad and privileged relationship with major digital platforms, as well as the company’s know-how in the realm of digitalisation, its resources and its editorial expertise.

Founded in 1999 by Marc du Pontavice, Xilam owns a catalogue of more than 2,000 animated series episodes and four feature films, including such brands as Oggy & the Cockroaches, Zig & Sharko, The Daltons, its first preschool series, Paprika and animated feature I Lost My Body.

Cube Creative has successfully developed proprietary productions, including the Athleticus series (broadcast on Arte), Kaeloo (on Canal+, Teletoon+, C8), and Tangranimo (underway for France télévisions), as well as Pfffirates (underway for TF1). The company also has a variety of high-quality projects in development.

Xilam will secure a singular team of talents with expertise in these cutting-edge technologies and a will be a strong brand that is well-established in the market. The merger allows Xilam to continue accelerate its delivery of animation programming and to expand further in the medium term.

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Marvel will be releasing a new ‘Black Widow’ comic series in April

Marvel has announced a new Black Widow comic series, releasing in April, written by Kelly Thompson, drawn by Elena Casagrande with covert art by Adam Hughes. This is the character’s first solo series since 2019’s Black Widow and The Web of Black Widow and will follow Natasha Romanoff as she investigates a new mystery in San Francisco.

Natasha Romanoff has been a spy almost as long as she’s been alive. And she’s never stopped running, whether she was working for the good guys…or the bad. But Natasha’s world is about to be upended. Beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate lies a mystery that only the Marvel Universe’s greatest spy can solve. Don’t miss the heartbreaking thrill ride of 2020!

“I’m very interested in the duality of Natasha… so look for that to be a recurring theme in this first arc as she struggles against that and leans into it,” Thompson said.

Apart from the titular character, the series will feature Russian super-soldier Red Guardian and fellow Black Widow Yelena Belova. The characters also have their own series, Widowmakers: Red Guardian and Yelena Belova, by Devin Grayson and Michele Bandini.

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Myanmar-based Joosk Studio raises funding to make animation feature film

Animation start-up Joosk Studio, based in Myanmar has received a six-digit sum investment from Vietnam’s venture capital firm Nest Tech VN, joined by Yangon-based EME Myanmar.

Joosk is currently working on animated feature, Sassy Bound The Movie, based on popular webcomic series Sassy Bound which will hopefully be releasing in theatres nationwide by 2021. Joosk’s studio’s debut into cinema will bring Myanmar’s first feature-length animation to viewers across the country.

(From left to right) Ko Thet Paing Kha, Ko Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, Hitoshi Ikeya and Zeyah Htet

Founded and managed by artists Ko Thet Paing Kha and Ko Zeyar Htet, Joosk has worked with local and international companies as well as NGOs including Facebook, CB Bank, Tenor and World Bank Group. In September 2019, Joosk’s proprietary animation series Sassy Bound won the Myanmar Influencer of the Year Award for Art and Design.

Last year, EME Myanmar invested in five more start-ups, including Joosk Studio and CarsDB, bringing the total number of invested companies to seven.

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Amazon Prime Video India unveils its 2020 slate full of big releases

Amazon Prime Video India has revealed its upcoming 2020 slate full of big releases through a new video. The global streaming platform has collaborated with notable creators such as Raj & DK, Kabir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Nikkhil Advani, Reema Kagti, Ali Abbas Zafar and many more to up their game in the competitive space of original content.

While fan favourites, Mirzapur, Four More Shots Please!, Made in Heaven will return with their second instalments, a slew of new originals will make their way to the platform. 

Four More Shots Please! will return with the women continuing their friendship ab=nd has been shot in Turkey apart from Mumbai. Despite the dry season two, Inside Edge season three has been greenlit and the cast – Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Aamir Bashir, Angad Bedi, Sayani Gupta, and Sapna Pabbi will reprise their respective roles. The Family Man that received rave reviews, will have its sequel this year too. 

On the newer side, Kabir Khan’s The Forgotten Army is a much- awaited Indian original, featuring Sunny Kaushal and newcomer Sharvari in lead roles. The series is based on true events and charts the journey of the many men and women, who fought for the country’s independence as part of the Indian National Army (INA), led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Another upcoming original, Bandish Bandits, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Singh Chaudhry, is a romantic musical series directed by Anand Tiwari. The story, penned by Amritpal Singh Bindra, follows a unique story of two extremely different personalities Radhe and Tamanna who, despite coming from very different worlds, set out together on a journey of self-discovery to see if opposites, though they might attract, can also adapt and be successful in the long run.

The video also includes a preview of the documentary series Sons of Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers. Though not much is known about the series, the preview includes clips of the team during training and a glimpse at Jaipur Pink Panthers owner Abhishek Bachchan.

Bachchan is also going to make his digital debut with Prime original Breathe 2. Amit Sadh, who played a pivotal part in the first season of the psychological thriller, will reprise his role of a cop police in its second season as well. The series will be directed by Mayank Sharma.

Dilli and Gormint are the newest additions to the list of political dramas. Dimple Kapadia will be seen in Ali Abbas Zafar’s Dilli, along with Saif Ali Khan, Sunil Grover, Mohd Zeeshan Ayub and Sarah Jane Dias. Veteran actor Amol Palekar, who will make his digital debut with Gormint, will star alongside Manav Kaul, Shikha Talsania and Girish Kulkarni in the drama.

The Last Hour is another addition to the list. It’s a crime thriller created by Amit Kumar with Oscar winner Asif Kapadia as one of the producers. Starring Sanjay Kapoor and Raima Sen, The Last Hour has a supernatural twist set in the picturesque Himalayas.

A series about the 2008 Mumbai attacks, 26/11, is also in the pipeline from director Nikkhil Advani, starring Konkana Sen Sharma.

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Viacom18 to launch its new subscription streaming service ‘Voot Select’

Viacom18 is soon going to launch its second subscription-based streaming offering called Voot Select. Soon go live on Voot, the all new premium service, Voot Select will give users access to diverse multi genre marquee content experiences.

This new business vertical under Viacom18 Digital Ventures will be helmed by Youth, Music and English head Ferzad Palia. Voot Select will be in addition to his existing responsibilities.

Speaking about adding further scale to the digital business, Viacom18 Group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats said, “The video on demand market is the fastest growing segment in the media and entertainment sector today.  Subscription led business models are going to be the next big growth drivers in the years to come. Having established Voot as India’s second largest premium AVoD platform, we think the time is apt for us to unveil our premium subscription offering, Voot Select. The new premium offering will bring more bespoke content to our always-on viewers.”

 Voot Select is the dawn of a new era in the story of Voot. This is brought alive in the logo which reflects our commitment to providing exclusive content and quality entertainment for subscribers. Minimal, premium, and contemporary, this wordmark distinguishes itself from the mother brand through its form, while being intimately connected with the core brand ethos through subtle gradients and rounded edges. It is a visual translation of the brand proposition to provide the best digital content for a discerning audience.

 “With Voot, the successful launch of Voot Kids and now Voot Select, our aim is to build a versatile and immersive digital ecosystem that will add value to our users. The new offering will provide them with differentiated content experiences across genres and segments. Currently in its final leg of testing, the all new Voot Select once live will see many untapped genres being made available for our users to experience and enjoy,” Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gourav Rakshit added.

 Voot Select is the second subscription based streaming service from Viacom18 and will soon launch in India.

Ferzad Palia, Sudhanshu Vats and Gourav Rakshit

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“Fnatic will want to be one of the best lifestyle gaming brands in India”: Fnatic’s newly appointed India Lead Nimish Raut

Fnatic recently made their entry into the country’s gaming ecosystem with the acquisition of an Indian PUBG Mobile roster in October 2019.

Now, the brand has appointed Nimish Raut as its India lead. He will be bringing in a diverse range of experience to the table as he has previously been associated with brands like Red Bull and Star Sports. Most recently, he was with Riot Games where he looked after the League of Legends leagues throughout South East Asia.

Says Raut, “As the India Lead I am responsible for building a strong Fnatic fan base and provide them with the complete Fnatic experience. The main aim would to be build a sustainable India business with our PUBGM team and launch India’s best gaming facility. The brand will continue to source talent within PUBGM and other relevant games and provide young and upcoming streamers an opportunity to grow their brand. Fnatic will want to be one of the best lifestyle gaming brands in India.”

Fnatic’s Indian PUBG team recently won the PUBG Mobile All Stars (PMAS) event held in Hyderabad in December and competed at the Peacekeeper Elite Championship (PEC) 2019 in Xi’an, China.

Raut had earlier worked with Riot Games, known for their MOBA, League of Legends.  His role at Riot focused more on league operations and long term sustainability of the sport, however in Fnatic, the responsibility slate is much broader and focuses on a much more challenging market.

Says he, “Riot Games is the publisher of the best esports in the world League of Legends and I learned a lot about the team business across SEA market. Fnatic is one of the best teams in the world for the title and I learned a lot about team branding and athlete management during my Riot days. I think India needs the professionalism and right mindset at a industry level to unlock it’s true potential.”

Given the mobile-first shift in the esports ecosystem in Asia, it is of no surprise that global biggies like Fnatic are looking to build a stronghold in the country. With the potential to be a major hub of esports, the budding stage that India is at might as well attract more brands to the country. In the meanwhile, we will have to see how it goes for Fnatic!

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