World News – UA – Powerful Little Global Star: Netflix’s Indian Toddler Superhero


In this photo taken on October 7, 2020, a child watches the cartoon series ‘Mighty Little Bheem’ on a cell phone at his home in New Delhi (AFP / Sajjad Hussain)

It was a quest worthy of a superhero Host Rajiv Chilaka spent years whipping his speech about a superhuman Indian child to Western leaders, to no avail

From his mother’s sari to his love for laddoos, everything about the toddler star is Indian

Its giant fan base stretches from Seattle to Sao Paulo, making it Netflix’s most popular show for preschoolers

Since launching last year, it has been viewed by over 27 million homes.It was Netflix’s best international release of 2019 in the US, and a third season is now underway

But the diaper-wearing superhero’s journey from the South Indian city of Hyderabad to Hollywood has not been easy

« I have been kicked out of every office I have been to, » said Chilaka, who first contacted US TV stations with hopes of catching Chhota Bheem (Little Bheem) – his Indian show popular over a village nine year old boy with superhuman strength – global

TV executives objected, saying Western children would reject him because the setting was « too bright and colorful » and the protagonist was shirtless, Chilaka said

« It didn’t really make sense to me I mean kids are drawn to color and Disney made Jungle Book – an entire movie about a boy in his underwear – years ago, » he declared

Although American studios regularly reach out to Indian animators to create English content for a lower price, the industry has never been praised for original productions.

The streaming giant wanted to break into India’s huge entertainment market and hoped that a Bheem spinoff based on a baby version of Chilaka’s beloved superhero would help do just that.

« We really wanted to have a character that resonates above all with our Indian members, » Dominique Bazay, director of original animation for Netflix, told AFP.

Bheem wears a traditional bindi – a point on his forehead – and lives in a village where everyone is dressed in Indian clothes

Raised by a single mother, he makes his way through all manner of mischief, sometimes including a cheeky monkey and baby elephant in his escapades

The company wasn’t worried about how the show – which has no dialogue – would translate among overseas viewers, Bazay said.

Nonetheless, few expected that the adventures of Bheem and his furry friends would attract such a huge global audience, as it attracted fans in the Black Panther era and the growing demand for more. diversity in entertainment

New Yorker Lisa-Michelle Houck told AFP her children, aged four and two, were quick fans of the show

Bheem’s fondness for laddoos – a yellow Indian candy – was evident to them, she said « It’s just candy »

Bheem’s antics – whether it’s hitting his drum toy non-stop or making a mess around the house – are instantly hilarious to young viewers

And for parents looking for a break from traditional children’s programming and its parade of princesses wearing roses and white protagonists, the show is an easy way to introduce kids to a more multicultural worldview

Bheem’s one-parent family offers important lessons that « there isn’t just one right way to have a family, » Houck said

She and his wife also wanted their Métis children to see that « you don’t have to be white to be a superhero »

« When we started working I was very aware that this was the first animated show in India to find such a big platform, » said the 46-year-old.

« It was a big load on my shoulders, because I knew it could open doors for others »

Bheem’s journey from the underdog to the global phenomenon could be a game-changer for the animation industry in India, he added

He has already transformed the fortunes of Chilaka’s studio, Green Gold Animation, which has seen its workforce grow from 25 to around 1,200 people based in India, the United States, Singapore and the Philippines.

« We’re still pinching ourselves, » Chilaka said, adding that he hoped to produce a film about the toddler at some point

Netflix, Chhota Bheem, India, Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd

World News – UA – Mighty little global star: Netflix’s Indian superhero toddler


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