Founder of Indian Animation Studio Presented with Alumni Achievement Award

Sumanth Kalli

UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering recently presented an alumni award to Rajiv Chilakalapudi,  the founder and managing director of Green Gold Animation, which produces many of India’s top children shows and movies.

For the past five years, Chilakalapudi has been the producer of made-for-television movies and a leading animation studio with more than 350 episodes of animation content, which remains unique among all other Indian animation studios. Chilakalapudi realized expanding the brand beyond TV would allow the studio to become a serious player in Indian animation market.

“We ventured into feature film production and have launched our first animated theatrical in summer 2012 which was a runaway hit in India,” Chilakalapudi said.

Chilakalapudi’s most popular series, “Chhota Bheem,”  is a hit in the animation field, totalling more than 34 million viewers. He also created animated films such as “Krishna: The Birth” and “Krishna: The Makhan Chor,” and the animated television shows “Krishna Balram” and “Mighty Raju,” which is broadcast on Cartoon Network India and Pogo. The company also has retail stores, which feature products based on Green Gold’s animated characters.

“I believe that the new age kids should grow up thinking positively and with self-belief. They need to believe that they are the best in the world,” Chilakalapudi said. “Over the last 12 years, I have taken the step from being a software engineer to being the founder and CEO of India’s leading Animation Company. I have created the character Chhota Bheem, with great feeling and connection to the Indian culture.”

Chhota Bheem is followed by 73 percent of India’s children, becoming one of India’s most popular characters, which some call the Mickey Mouse of India.

 

Green Gold is trying to emulate what Walt Disney has done and achieve at least one tenth of what Walt Disney has done.

“My biggest dream is to take Green Gold to the level where Disney and Pixar are today,” Chilakalapudi said. “So far Green Gold has been India’s Disney, but I would like to take it to the international level.”

“While working at Miller Nichols Library on UMKC campus, I chanced upon few books about Walt Disney,” Chilakalapudi said. “After work, I spent a lot of time studying these books and other art books, including some on animation and film making. In my first semester itself, I was greatly tempted to quit my master’s program in computer science and take up fine arts or film making. But I realized that my fine art skills were pretty primitive, and I stood no chance of graduating from the fine arts program.”

His renewed focus on the technical allowed him to excel in the artistic.

“I have learned a great deal of things from Dr. Deep Medhi, who is now a curators’ professor,” Chilakalapudi said. “I liked the way he looked at things and made tough topics in computer science look simple. I have learned to keep things simple from here.”

Chilakalapudi also recognized the importance of networking and leadership skills from his education in UMKC. He recognizes the importance of social, educational and cultural meetings organized by the International Student Council (ISC).

“I was actively involved with ISC,” Chilakalapudi said. “Being the vice president of Indian Students Association gave me good exposure to meet and learn about other international student bodies and their cultures. I also developed my organizational, public speaking and decision-making skills by my association with ISC and the Indian Students Association.”

Rajiv supports programs to expose young people to his craft, having enrolled 30 underprivileged teenagers in a training program at no charge, and eventually hired 20 of them to work for Green Gold. He also established 10 animation scholarships for economically disadvantaged students in India.