“I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised,” replied India’s answer to Walt Disney, who will visit San Francisco and receive an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, Academy of Art University, on May 23, 2016.
President of Academy of Art University, Dr. Elisa Stephens honors alumnus Rajiv Chilaka of Green Gold Animation TV Pvt. Ltd, based in Hyderabad, India. Chilaka, known as “the animation poster boy of India,” has been acclaimed for his ground-breaking contribution to the Indian animation industry. India, with a population of 1.3 billion, includes 50% of that number under the age of 25, resulting in a large audience, ripe for Chilaka’s adventurous and morally appealing cartoon characters.
As an honored guest of the Academy, Chilaka is attending the University’s annual Spring Show to review Animation students’ work. He will also interview candidates interested in joining Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd, the animation studio best known for Chilaka’s famed character, Chhota Bheem.
Launched in 2008, Bheem is the most popular character to come out of the “Green Gold” stable. Bheem was created because, “There weren’t many Indian cartoons that catered to the Indian audience below the age of 14 years, so we decided to come up with an ideal character that could teach good values to children,” says Chilaka. The loveable character Bheem, watched by 40 million children weekly, appeals to young and old alike, with some of the highest consistent television ratings across India.
Chilaka credits his success to his time at Academy of Art University. He was inspired by Walt Disney’s success, even visiting the places in Kansas City where Disney used to live and work. With expertise gained at the Academy, Chilaka returned to India in 2000 to realize his dream. Today his studio employs over 400 animators and has created a successful franchise of 25 Green Gold retail stores across India. Popular branded products include “tiffin” lunch boxes, toys, water bottles, and food products, such as fruit drinks and wafers—all sporting the series’ characters.
“Rajiv Chilaka’s astounding journey from the Academy’s animation classes in San Francisco to his own powerhouse in India has illustrated what many of our students and graduates experience here,” Dr. Stephens remarked. “Learning new disciplines across the art and design world is empowering, and great goals are not insurmountable; dreamers like Rajiv can achieve anything, irrespective of hurdles or challenges.”
While in San Francisco, Chilaka looks forward to sharing Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd’s most recent animation reels, including scenes from the January film release of Chhota Bheem, Himalayan Adventure.