Outliers 23: Meet Rajiv Chilaka, the man behind India’s animation superhero, ‘Chhota Bheem’

Pankaj Mishra June 28, 2017 1 min

Entrepreneurship stories tend to be mostly about instant success or loud, public failures. Entrepreneurial journeys that are a slow burn are often not talked about. But that’s exactly what excites us at Outliers podcast.

The first time I met Rajiv Chilaka, the founder of Green Gold Animation, a couple of years ago in Hyderabad, he appeared too shy to talk about the story behind Chhota Bheem, a popular homegrown animation hero for Indian kids. For me, and for many watching from outside, Chhota Bheem appeared to be an instant hit.

For Chilaka, 42, an engineer who grew up idolising Walt Disney and fantasising about creating animation superstars, the journey started in the year 2000. But, the real tipping point came in 2008, May to be precise, when Chhota Bheem first aired on Pogo channel.

Ten days before Chhota Bheem went to air, Chilaka’s new office was gutted in a fire accident, a big potential investor developed cold feet, and the lenders gheraoed him demanding their dues

“Pogo was exploring to shut down the channel and I too had had a long journey with failures by then. A lot was riding on Chhota Bheem,” he says.

Ten days before Chhota Bheem went to air, Chilaka’s new office was gutted in a fire accident, a big potential investor developed cold feet, and the lenders gheraoed him demanding their dues.

It was a complete tragedy. Nothing comical about it at all.

And then everything changed. Chhota (small) Bheem brought big fortune to the company. The brand itself is valued over Rs 400 crore according to the industry insiders, and over 60 million watch the show every month.

Listen to this podcast to learn more about Chilaka’s long, slow and dramatic entrepreneurial journey.

Listen to other Outliers podcasts

 

Podcast produced by Shivendra Pandey.

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