The NASSCOM’s annual Animation and Gaming Summit in Hyderabad, brought together the cream of the India-based industry, last week, for the seventh year running . While the event itself was smaller,if more tightly focussed that ever before, it left delegates with a sobering thought: “ab manzil bahut door hai” – there’s a long way to go -- before Indian training schools can turn out the type of top talent that the industry demands.
When she was not making unsubtle plugs and an extended recruitment spiel for her parent company, Shelley Page, India-based Head, International Outreach, at DreamWorks, managed to prove in fairly devastating fashion, that the output from the world’s top animation arts schools – most of them based in Europe and the US -- was of a quality that was simply not attainable today, from India-based institutions.
So when she said, DreamWorks had been ‘fantastically successful’ in its India initiatives, it seemed she was mostly talking about the engineering , rather than the creative side of the business. It may have been as she said, a ‘no brainer’ for DreamWorks, to set up shop in India – but listeners who had just heard, Biren Ghose, Chairman of NASSCOM’s Animation and Gaming Forum, reiterate that “India can no longer compete on cost but on performance and capabilities”, were left wondering who was making the politically correct statement, and who was sugar coating a harsher truth.
The annual NASSCOM/Frost&Sullivan animation and gaming report had already been published a few weeks ago; so its reiteration at the event lacked the drama of a ‘hot from the press’ announcement. The prediction that the Indian animation industry was poised to grow at a healthy 22 percent to hit $ 1 billion by 2012 was ofcourse welcome news for the assembled studio heads.
NASSCOM chose to spin off the second day’s event devoted to gaming as a separate event – though we could see little logic for this, except that it allowed them to get delegates to fork out twice for the privilege of attending.
Animation and gaming go hand in hand today -- like love and marriage, horse and carriage, if one’s memory of a corny 1960s song is right – and so many of the practitioners seem to seamlessly morph from one role to another that the industry is rightly considered a whole with two operational and creative parts.
- Anand Parthasarathy, in Hyderabad, Nov 5-6 2009