The New Invasion
“Bheeeeeeeem”, the loud song blared from the television as I tried to reach for the remote unsuccessfully.
It’s official. 9 year old Chhota Bheem has taken over India; all the while smiling sweetly and munching on a piece of laddoo. With his army of pink cheeked and brainy Chutki, brave Raju with all of two hairs on his head, jealous friend Kalia, talking monkey Jaggu, spineless Dholu, Bholu, and kind princess Indumati; he has invaded the world of Indian children and their parents.
The sleepy town of Dholakpur is now waking up parents all over the country even as kids clamour for endless Chhota Bheem episodes on the TV that seem to be aired all day long. Even when you step outside the home after managing to switch off the television, you are not safe.
Chhota Bheem stares at you from every corner when you take your kid to the mall – Chhota Bheem DVDs are invitingly placed near the billing counter of the bookshop even as you vainly try to divert your kid’s attention away to a book of phonics. Chhota Bheem t shirts in every colour, Chhota Bheem games, Chhota Bheem mugs and Chhota Bheem photo frames delight kids and send hapless parents in a mad rush to search for a non-existent “Chhota Bheem free zone”
Makes you wonder if fruits and vegetables could also start getting marketed with the Chhota Bheem tag? Now that would be interesting for the parents.
Tom and Jerry never had a chance with today’s kids. The endless cat and mouse chase that kept us in splits when we were young is hardly watched by anybody these days except probably by babies, who are yet to discover Chhota Bheem’s charms.
Our other childhood favourites - Spiderman, Jonny Soko and of course, the mandatory Sunday episodes of Mahabharata would probably make them the current Chhota Bheem generation laugh.
That’s what I feel now. Last year, I was raving and ranting about Doraemon. But, just when I started feeling happy that my kid was finally over lazy Doraemon and his endless gadgets, Chhota Bheem entered our lives.
When I first heard about Chhota Bheem, I was ecstatic. Finally an Indian cartoon based on history! Really interesting way of teaching the Mahabharata to children, I thought. I was sure they would be showing the Pancha Pandavas in all their childhood glory and teach lessons of bravery and honour, justice and honesty.
Of course, an episode later, I realized, Chhota Bheem is not even distantly related to any character in Mahabharata. And his only connection with Bheem apart from his name and his strength is his love for eating – albeit only laddoos.
I must admit, Chhota Bheem must have done wonders for the Indian animation industry. The show, created by Green Gold Animation is supposed to be the most popular animated TV series with 9% market share and has pushed Pogo to the No. 1 channel rating. No wonder, you can watch it almost any time of the day….
But, if you ask parents, you will hear a different story altogether.
Sample conversations at the bus stop while dropping my kid off to school….
“It doesn’t just stop with t shirts! I have to gift my son a Chhota Bheem Rakhi this year…he won’t settle for anything else”
“Generally boys and girls watch separate cartoons… Chhota Bheem seems to have hooked them all”
“Can you believe it; my kid actually bought a Chhota Bheem Tomato sauce bottle. She doesn’t even have Tomato sauce!”
As I shook my head at the all too familiar predicament, my phone rang… Invitation for my daughter’s friend’s birthday party tomorrow.
The theme is… what else but Chhota Bheem!
I wonder if a DVD of Chhota Bheem will be the main source of entertainment at the party! And would kids be allowed to enter only if they are dressed in Chhota Bheem t shirts? And the menu of course, would be incomplete without the customary Chhota Bheem laddoo!
Bheem and Pogo, take some rest. We need another new superhero to save us from the invasion of Chhota Bheem. Till then, parents beware.
Breaking news from the land of Dholakpur reveals that Chhota Bheem is going international now and will soon be travelling with his laddoos to other countries beyond India. And Chhota Bheem and Chhota Krishna seem to be making a joint appearance in certain episodes. And, yes, there seems to be Chhota Bheem film in the offing as well in 2012.
We probably need Chhota Brahma now to recreate a new world for our children – a world with more morals and knowledge, more vegetables and fruits, more outdoor play and less, much less TV, less fighting, less violence and less branded merchandise.
Let’s dream on and continue our fight for the remote.