Fortunately we have two TV’s at home. This Sunday one was booked by my wife & elder daughter watching a cookery program on TLC followed by a song & dance show. On the other one I was shifting channels between NDTV, CNN IBN, Times Now & KTV – trying to avoid the Ads when my little one (all of 5 years old) put her foot down and said it was Chota Bheem time.
I observed her quietly as she transported herself to Dhaulakpur and the land of Chota Bheem, Chutki, Jaggu & Kalia. For a kid whose attention span is less than 2 minutes – it was amazing to see how this TV serial on Pogo captured her attention for a good 30 min ( that too for a episode which she claimed she has watched many times).
The world of cartoons and comics have changed very fast. From the time we were kids in the 70’s to when my elder one was an avid cartoon fan (6 years back) to now, its amazing.
We grew up when there was no TV and when it did come with Asiad and DD we were too old for cartoons. So our childhood was full of comics. The masked Phantom from Denkali with Goran and his band of Pygmies in an island surrounded by piranha infested waters was one of the most popular reads. The cave brimming with treasures and adventure after adventure used to keep us captivated in the simple easy to read Indrajal comics.
Then there was Dennis the Menace the innocent little naughty boy and his neighbor uncle Williams.
And of course as we grew older there was Asterix & Tintin. The only Indian masala was from Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama – which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Every year during summer vacations our club used to have at least 1 show of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin. The antics of Olly & Stan would make us burst with laughter till our sides ached.
As TV became more prevalent thanks to DD we got to see Lucy , some Tom & Jerry and a few more english comedies – and of course who can forget captain Spock & Star Wars.
On the books front we were slowly graduating from Enid Blyton , (3 Golliwogs, Noddy, Mr Meddle, Five Find Outers, Malory Towers, St Claires….) , to Alfred Hitchcock ( 3 Investigators), Hardy Boys , Nancy Drew , Archie, JT Edson , Louis L’Amour, Sudden, Agatha Christie , Alistair McLean, Desmond Bagley, Jeffrey Archer and finally graduated to Judith Krantz & Harold Robbins.
As Kids we used to trade comics & books. 1 Tintin = 5 Chandamama’s, 1 Hardy Boy = 3 Archies etc. So we learnt the art of value & positioning very early. New books fresh out of print used to have higher trade value and the day these books landed at the local library there used to be a big Q to grab them (with some getting thrown out of the window to a friend standing below)
Things changed 10 years back. My elder daughter tastes were very different. Yes Tom & Jerry survived and was still the favorite. But there were new entrants.
Equally famous were the Power Puff Girls and cute little Dora (These were the birthday party themes for many years) and the wise & mature Arthur.
In less than 6 years things have changed. Japanese Doraemon & Chota Bheem hold total sway over the kids today.
And I ask myself – What captivates Chota Bheem to the kids ? He is a rural hero – has a band of followers – is simple and straightforward – its always good Vs evil – the Laddu is his magic potent – the formula works. He has universal appeal in big cities, small towns and villages. . The simple innocent kids love it. Finally we have an Indian cartoon that has overthrown Disney – and that is no mean achievement.
I don’t know who is the creator of Chota Bheem – but the people behind this deserve a big pat on the back. The brand is growing – you now have Chota Bheem Bags , T Shirts, Mugs , and I hear even branded Laddu’s are expected to come out shortly. The movie was a big hit and with the right investments we could even have a Chota Bheem theme park with his entire gang. That would be our own version of Disneyland. A theme park set in a lovely village called Dhaulakpur.
As I watch Chota Bheem with my daughter I realize that it is indeed entertaining and a pleasant change from corrupt politicians shouting each other down in a TV debate or the loud & garish dance & song sequence that seems to pop up in every other channel.
I have a new choice. The virality has begun and Chota Bheem has one more member in his fan club.