Comic legend Chacha Chowdhary will soon make his way into television sets and theatres. Chacha Chowdhary sportswear, toys, stationary products, apparels and other licensed merchandise will be reality by the end of the year. Diamond Comics, the publication which gave birth to the cult comic characters such as Chacha Chowdhary, Sabu and Pinki, has tied up with License India, a division of Franchise India Holdings.
Diamond Comics, which has been in existence for more than five decades, had tried the animated cartoons route on Doordarshan some years ago. Not satisfied with the effort, Gulshan Rai, chairperson and managing director, Diamond Comics, wanted a wider reach and decided to partner with License India.
License India will oversee the expansion of the brand from print to television and films, and in various merchandised avatars. The merchandise licensing business in India has been growing at 50 per cent year on year and the character licensing segment is pegged at Rs 500 crore.
It's a brand that has existed for decades and hasn't been very popular among the current generation of kids. Many new characters have become big in India in the last few years, with the launch of kids' entertainment channels. Players which have a strong television presence, such as Disney, are also strong players in the merchandising business. "It's the time for the Indian comic characters to become popular worldwide," says Rai.
Will Chacha Chowdhary and Sabu be able to beat the popularity of Batman and Spiderman? Anupama Bindra, business head, License India, believes that it's the history behind the character that will be leveraged.
"Kids may not be interested in Chacha Chowdhary because they don't know about him but parents have a sentimental value attached with the character, which they would want to pass onto the kids," she says. Besides, she claims that brand loyalty is not very high in that age group. License India is actively looking at targeting the NRI audience as well.
The readership of comics is substantial in the rural areas, where it is still a preferred pastime. However, the same is not true for urban areas. "The kids in the Tier 2 and 3 cities are very interested in reading comics but the ones in urban cities don't prefer to read, unless it is Harry Potter type story books," says Bindra. For this, efforts will be made to bring the character alive and package the content in a way that is appealing to the kids, while retaining the essence of the comic series and the peculiarities of each of the characters.
Currently, License India is in talks with production houses and broadcasters to create television series and animation films. The channel will tie up with retail outlets across the country for merchandise such as clothes, toys, stationary, and mobile, computer and video games. By the end of 2009, Diamond Comics and License India will come out with the first offering. The resurrection of the characters will be announced by an extensive marketing and promotional campaign.