Friday, December 9, 2011

Cartoons and Kids


I am sure that almost all the parents in India is familiar with the person in the picture shown above. He is the latest and most successful "Indian" Cartoon Character ever to hit Indian Television screens. He has caught the attention and imagination of the children of almost all age groups. Its success is unprecedented! I guess no other character has been so easily accepted by kids all over the country. But, does that mean it is good? I don't think so!

For the uninitiated, the picture above depicts the character of Chotta Bheem, (in the show of same name in POGO) a cute little boy of  9 years of age, living in a small kingdom called Dholakpur. He leads a happy life with his friends - Chutki, a seven year old girl; Raju, a five year old and Jaggu, a talking monkey! Bheem is (as all heroes usually are) very good at heart and is always there to help others in need. He is bravery personified...His usual rivals are Kalia and his side kicks, Dholu and Bholu, who are identical twins. The other major characters are the King Indravarman and his daughter Indumati, Dhooni Baba, Tun Tun Mausi (who bears an uncanny resemblance to yesteryear actress Tun Tun), and Professor Dhoom Ketu. Certain other characters like daku Mangal Singh, Kichak etc keeps popping in and out in various episodes. Even Lord Krishna is a character - though he is always portrayed as child and called Kanha...

Now, why do I feel that Chotta Bheem is not all that good for kids? Well, the basic premise itself is wrong. Here is a kingdom, ruled by a king, which invariably lands in all sorts of problems - ranging from dakus (dacoits), flood, black magic, volcanic eruption,crocodiles, ants, vampires and what not! Dholakpur is an ancient Indian Kingdom, where the people are dhoti clad and ruled by a king. So, whenever there is a problem that threatens the kingdom, the King is the one who is supposed to find solution with his able ministers and army. But what happens here is that, only Bheem, a nine year old, can solve the problems in that country. Any threats either within or without is always eliminated by Bheem! And where does he get all his powers from? By eating laddoos!!! Eat them and he gets power to thrash enemies and all evil. The king always call this little boy to solve the kingdom's problem. Then why not hand over him the kingdom itself? And whatever happens, Bheem and his friends always triumph! After all, heroes are supposed to win always...

Dholakpur  is modeled after a typical rural Indian village of ancient times. At the outset nothing suggests that it is in modern India. (Yes, I know  it is an imaginary village). Yet, in some episodes, there are cricket matches (that too 20-20), hockey matches and boxing matches between Dholakpur and its neighboring village - Pahalwanpur. I find it weird... And professor Dhoom ketu is a scientist modeled after scientist, who keep inventing interesting things like hot air balloon. He looks like a scientist from a modern laboratory! 

While Bheem is portrayed as an adorable boy, his rival Kalia is a fat boy with a big tummy, who is greedy and always looking to get the better of Bheem. While Bheem is always there for his country and friends, Kalia never cares for his followers (the twins). (Though they are always on opposite sides, in some episodes, Kalia has also been shown as good person, often helping Bheem for the common good of Dholakpur). Agreed, Bheem is portrayed as virtue personified, who can do no wrong. The element of goodness is always there. Maybe the idea is to show an ideal child. But why is Kalia a fat,selfish and greedy boy? Are all fat boys bully? Why typecast him as a fat ugly boy? Why couldn't he be as cute as Bheem?