Chhota Bheem…

Published May 30, 2012 by vishalvkale

In the old days, especially in my early years, I would always look forward to Mickey and Donald, Tom n Jerry to lighten my mood. It was a fun occasion, a cartoon with no tension and just pure entertainment. The good thing about those 2 cartoons above were their culture neutrality, which made them easy favourites across cultures. In those days, the only Indian cartoons would be beginners stuff served by Doordarshan, which were liked more because they were a novelty than anything else! It was always a given that Indian Cartoons were no good…
Cut to today, and the scenario has changed quite remarkably. Chhota Bheem seems to have caught the imagination of the nation – at least the majority of kids. Even a good number of adults are getting enamored with the cartoon character of Chhota Bheem!. What was once deemed impossible has been converted into a reality thanks to Rajiv Chilaka (above). The show now has almost a cult following among the kids – it plays nearly all day long on Pogo channel. I know since nothing else is allowed at my home – IPL included. Had to fight my kid for TV time! 
Personally, what I like the best about the series is the undercurrent of moral education and the gentle not-so-subtle emphasis on values, morals, right and wrong. This is something that is noticeably absent from western cartoons – Tom’n’Jerry, Mickey & Donald, Bugs Bunny et al. These were all about fun pranks etc. In fact, some of the pranks shown on a few of the episodes are quite frankly a bit too “wise” for my taste! In marked contrast, the Chhota Bheem series is not only fun, it adhers to Indian Values, emphasises right vs wrong. One cannot say with certainty that it builds character – (if cartoons could build character, then all kids would be saints by now!) – but at least it emphasises the right virtues in a manner that kids can relate to. That is the biggest achievement of the series. Every episode has a clear message – forgiveness or honesty etc. The kids learn a little from these episodes – which places the series head and shoulders above any and all animations that have been attempted. There has not been a single episode of the Chhota Bheem series in which I can find anything that is rough, or unacceptable or “wise-guy”ish. The adherence to the underlying values of the series is to be praised!
The other aspect is a no-brainer: the setting is Indian; which makes it relatively easy for us to relate to the cast and get involved in them. The looks, the settings are so close to home that we accept them almost naturally. The background is normally so well done and scenic, with lots of greenery etc being depicted that it adds to the overall beauty. Since the base is a village setting, it seems very natural and comfortable… Each episode has a clear story & message that goes beyond just pranks and fun. That lifts the entire series into a different level entirely! It is this double combination that makes it a cut above most others of its genre…
The movie version has also been deemed a success, which is very heartening. I have seen the movie, and liked it a lot- as did my family, who also enjoyed the experience. I had not expected much of a turnout for a cartoon, but was surprised by the attendance. Obviously, being in a new genre for Indian Cinema, it cannot be expected to run full house for weeks – but the encouraging response bodes well for the Indian Animation industry. The movie was a great one- I rate it beyond any other animation movie for the reasons outlined above – and we can only expect the team to get better from here onwards. The best part of it was the fact that it had a clearly defined storyline, great voice-acting, a message and superb animation. For those who have criticized it, I can only say that having watched most animations I found nothing that was present in them that was not present in Chhota Bheem. The background music was class, and gelled very well with the storyline. If any suggestion can be made, then it is only that I wish the director would make the next Chhota Bheem movie a bit longer, more involved, as we are left wanting for more. That apart, it was a perfect movie. Better than I have seen till date in its genre…
Only feed back for the Director: please dont change the voice-over actors for as long as is humanly possible – we identify the characters as much by their physical appearance as by the voices in a cartoon setting. That is absolutely vital! A definable message, a clear storyline, great voice-characterizations and a lovable cast of cartoon characters are what has made the series a tremendous success… let us hope that it continues to do so.

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