Exclusive: 19th Hole Studios turns two. Founder & Ex-Army Man gets candid about its journey and future plans

The Indian animation industry has been witnessing steady growth over the last few years. The sector has grown at a CAGR of 11.31 per cent from FY16 to FY20. With animation services taking up a larger pie of the revenue, more animation studios have started opening up. One such studio is Hyderabad based 19th Hole Studios. Founded in May 2018 by D. Tamil Azhagan, 19th Hole Studios has been offering 2D and 3D production as well as pre-production services to Indian animation studios.

AnimationXpress got into talking with the studio’s founder Tamil Azhagan – a man with an interesting background. Being with the Indian army for about eight years post which he joined the IT sector, Tamil finally got into Adobe’s sales team targeting the media segment where he spent his next 10 years. That’s when he began developing interest in the creative field and decided to start his own studio.

The studio’s intriguing name has an equally intriguing story. Diving into the history of why he named it the 19th Hole, he explains, “I play golf in my leisure time and in it the 19th hole is a slang term for a bar on or near the golf course, very often the clubhouse itself. The game consists of 18 holes and very often the players visit the 19th hole after the game. The  idea to begin an animation studio struck me at the 19th hole.”

D. Tamil Azhagan

Looking at the potential of the animation industry, Tamil ventured into the animation industry two years ago. Talking about his journey in this field, he says, “What I learnt is that there is much more that can be achieved in this industry. It looks easy from outside but when you become a part of it you realize that it requires a lot of hard work and there is immense pressure to survive in the market.”

With a strong team of 40 employees, the studio has managed to bag some big clients under its hood. Currently they are working with Big Animation (Little Singham, Golmaal Jr), Paperboat (Sab Jholmaal Hai, Keymon) and Cosmos Maya (Titoo, Gadget Guru Ganesha).

Although the studio is fairly new in the game, the ongoing lockdown due to covid-19 didn’t dampen the spirits of the studio. “During this pandemic, from March to September, we have delivered 15 episodes. Work from home has been a big hit for us. I have provided my team with work systems along with internet facilities. My team is the reason for my success and they have always stood by my side in my ups and downs,” adds Tamil.

With animation IP production gaining momentum in India, Tamil also plans to create his own IP based on a female superhero since as a child, he notes that ‘almost all superheroes have been male and there is a need to break the stereotype.’

Lastly talking about his future plans, Tamil says, “I’m already in talks with international clients. My plans got delayed due to covid but hopefully next year I will reach the international market as well. At the same time, I’m also interested in working with more national studios.”