Zee media blazes a trail of initiatives for aspiring students

As Zee media and Essel Group gear up to launch the first edition of Aesthetics Youth Conclave, a three-day extravaganza specially curated for the students and professionals across the AVGC sector along with other initiatives, We spoke to Essel Group’s Innovation head Mr Sidharth Balakrishna to get exclusive insights about their drive for propelling the AVGC scene through these initiatives. 

Can you tell us something about your work at Zee?

I am responsible for implementing strategic initiatives, especially pertaining to innovation across the Essel Group entities; as well as revamping some of the current business models. As part of this, I have brought in the use of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality across many of the group entities, some of these for the first time in India.

For example, a large number of videos that we produce today is through AI. We are looking to take this forward and use more and more of AI in the newsroom. We are also looking at initiatives to make our programs more interactive with the audience and drive engagement.

Education is another business where we are looking to extensively use technology. Learning in future will be more ‘real’, more interactive and much more personalized. We have also introduced teaching AI and Augmented Reality to the students of our journalism and filmmaking courses at ZIMA as well as the creative arts side at ZICA.

Besides my work at Zee, I myself have trained both students and industry professionals in these technologies so that a wider set of people can understand, use and benefit from the usage of technology- this has been through MDPs and other sessions at IIM Indore, FMS- Delhi and other management institutes.

Besides this, I am implementing or helping to implement other initiatives like a global conclave, new platforms to aid sales, sourcing differentiated content etc

Considering the fact that there is a serious lack of education in the fields of Animation and VFX, We are happy to learn that ZICA is taking steps to address that issue. Could you tell us a bit about “Aesthetic 2019- Youth Conclave”?

We thought it would be best to bring students and youth industry professionals under one platform and provide them with a good industry interface besides fun activities. Accordingly, we have senior speakers from major consulting firms, tech firms such as Adobe, Gist etc to interact with the audience as well as senior professionals from our own entities. There will also be competitions where students can showcase their talent, with their productions being selected to reach a large audience.

Thus those working in the industry can attend the trends as well as new technologies in the space; more than that, they can understand what the industry needs and produce content accordingly.

Do you think people in India are aware of how lucrative courses in VFX and animation are?

 Not really. This is because while people see the end product of animation, they do not really understand what all it takes to produce world-class content using VFX and animation. Perhaps because the producers of this content are ‘behind the scenes’, people do not know how much they are respected and paid. It is certainly a highly lucrative sector for professionals, especially with a lot of production being done in India even for global movies.

We have seen a flurry of Indian movies loaded with VFX and Indian animated IPs over the course of the past year. Surely the quantum of work has increased. Do you think we have the required training that can prepare students to stand the test of current times?

That is exactly the area we are working on. This has two aspects:

  • One, students have to be trained in the latest tools and techniques including understanding where and how Augmented Reality (AR) can come in, as an example
  • Secondly, they need a regular interface with the industry to understand the latest skill-set required and industry needs.

This is where we are trying to bridge the gap and provide a platform. Within our group, we have studios and a production house. We are going to supplement this practical angle with global exposure- for which we are getting the building blocks of international partnerships in place. We are clearly thus able to offer an edge to students- as reflected in how well our students have done in the industry already. We have a number of franchisee centres- and they pleasantly surprise me every day by telling me that their students have been engaged in the production of films, advertising videos etc besides winning awards and recognition.

What inspired you to come up with this concept?    

Our Group Chairman, Dr Subhas Chandra, is the biggest inspiration- this is because he is able to translate his thoughts into action so well. He has chosen this tagline for the group: “Extraordinary Together”. We realise that this is exactly what works- if we leverage the strength of the group as a whole, we offer our customers i.e. students, in this case, the maximum value.


Sidharth Balakrishna holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta and an Economics degree from the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Delhi University. He has over 14 years of experience in the media & entertainment, energy, infrastructure and education sectors.  He is currently an Executive (whole time) Board Director and heads Strategy & Innovation with the Essel (Zee) Group, India’s largest media entity, and is leading several strategic initiatives in digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence etc. In the past, he has led strategy and headed many large projects including in the fields of oil & gas, renewable energy, education, water etc. Mr Sidharth Balakrishna has also been a Strategy Consultant with Accenture and KPMG. Some of the projects that he has led have been awarded nationally and internationally. He is a mentor with MIT, Boston, USA as well as MassChallenge Boston & Tel Aviv to startups. He is a columnist with the Economic Times, India’s largest English business daily and other reputed publications.

We hope Indian institutes take a leaf from such initiatives and continue to inspire the budding aspirants.

Zee Media launches its first ever All India Journalism Entrance Exam in country to hire future journalists

Zee Media, an Essel Group Entity is embarking on a talent hunt journey aiming to recruit future journalists and reporters Pan India.

The selected students will be trained to become multilingual, multi-format journalists skilled in the latest tools and techniques including Mobile Journalism (MoJo) and Artificial Intelligence.

Post their selection into the training program, students will be provided guaranteed job offer letters from Zee Media on Day one (subject to their successful completion of the training course).

The training period will be for a total of nine months starting from April/May 2019; and shall be delivered by Zee Institute of Media Arts (ZIMA); for which students shall have to pay one and a half lakh rupees plus GST as fees.


The training includes three months of paid internship in Zee Media with a stipend of ten thousand rupees per month. The initiative is the brainchild of Mr Sidharth Balakrishna, Head-Innovation, Essel Group and Executive Director, Siti NetworksHe said, “We are happy that two of the Essel entities are coming together to benefit the youth of this country through a structured selection, training and onboarding program. It has the potential to be a true game-changer and will help ensure that students interested in media from across the country get a great opportunity. The inspiration for this initiative comes from the Group Chairman who always inspires us to dream and think big.

The first step of the selection process, the Zee Aptitude Test is scheduled for 27 January 2019 (Sunday) from 10 am to 12 pm. The test will feature a combination of General Knowledge MCQs and subjective essay-based questions.

Zee Media CHRO Sushil Joshi said, “ZAT is Zee Media and DNA’s National Talent Search for creative fresh graduates passionate to join our company as multi-format and multi-lingual journalist (capable of handling broadcast +print + digital news). It is a fantastic opportunity for students from the far corners of the country to build their careers in the media sector with one of India’s largest news networks”.

This all-India written test will be conducted in several cities across India including Agartala, Ahmedabad, Aizawal, Amritsar, Hyderabad, Bhatinda, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Gangtok, Guwahati, Gwalior, Haridwar, Hisar, Imphal, Indore, Itanagar, Kanpur, Kohima, Kottayam, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Meerut, Mumbai, Nashik, New Delhi, Noida, Panjim, Patiala, Prayagraj, Pune, Shillong, Srinagar, Varanasi, Vishakatapatnam. To be eligible for the entrance test, the student must hold a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent and must have secured a minimum of 50 per cent marks or equivalent CGPA. Students who are appearing for the final year of their bachelor’s degree and those who have completed their graduation degree requirements and are awaiting results are also eligible to apply.

Zee Learn CEO Debshankar Mukhopadhyay said, “This nine-month training program launched by ZIMA in collaboration with ZMCL is a benchmark in journalism education in India. Individuals who want to make their career in journalism have got a good opportunity to learn all the skills and techniques of the new age journalism.”

Registrations for the entrance test will be one thousand rupees per student which can be paid online through after filling the registration form in the link here: www.zimainstitute.com/zat-registration.aspx.


The selection process into Zee Media will be comprising multiple rounds including the following:

  • A pan-India national written examination called the Zee Aptitude Test (ZAT) (Round one)
  • Submission of student assignments (Round two)
  • Interviews with Editorial and HR (Round three)

We hope to see more initiatives like this to reinvigorate the spirit of students and buttress their aspirations on a whole new level.

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