Hanuman in shirt and knickers and Narada doing a jig while chanting Om Shanti Om on his guitar are all set to storm the kids’ world with Hanuman Returns, says Randeep Wadehra
SOONER or later this was bound to happen. With the wealth of Pauranic and other mythic tales and well-honed craft of storytelling as part of our culture, it was only a matter of time before these found the right medium for reaching out to the national as well as global audience.
The influx of latest technology in the field of moviemaking has given tremendous fillip to the production of full length animated feature films in India. Already, regional animated features like Manikanthan (Malayalam) and Inimey Nanganthan (Tamil) have carved a niche for this genre in the entertainment world. The Hindi scene looks promising too.
Animated features like Krishna and Bal Ganesha have become popular, and banners like Yashraj and Walt Disney have teamed up to give us non-Pauranic toons like Roadside Romeo, while Animation Dimensions has announced the launch of a number of animated features over the coming years, viz., an action film Aiyyaiyyo Balle Balle, and other flicks like Mighty Babies and Bombay Dogs. However, so far, the most successful production in this genre is the Percept Picture-Toonz Animation joint venture Hanuman that hit the popularity charts in 2005. Now they have come up with its sequel Hanuman Returns. But with a difference.
Mythology has been given a modernistic makeover. You can see Hanuman in shirt and knickers, and the celestial seer Narada doing a jig while chanting Om Shanti Om on his guitar instead of the more familiar Narayan, Narayan on the hoary veena. Lord Hanuman is born as avatar in the family of a pandit and his wife Shiela. The child is named Maruti. His prodigious physical and mental growth convinces his parents of his divinity, but they keep it secret.
Among his friends, the smart Munni does suspect his divine antecedents but does not know for sure. There is the chubby Minkoo who is a bit of a geek and is bullied by his classmates. But things brighten up for him when Maruti becomes his friend. The circle is completed with Daddu the dumb-rich brat whose favourite pastime is eating and sleeping. Together, the four kids get involved in several escapades — zany, thrilling and scary. But soon things turn serious when millennia-old enmity between demons and gods resurfaces, threatening the very existence of humankind.
The forces of evil are headed by the guru of demons, Shukracharya, who is ably supported by the mighty twin demons Rahu-Ketu, the evil tantric called Aghori, and a mysterious man who is one-eyed with a tooth jutting out of his shut mouth and is a menace to all things good.
They look unstoppable in their evil intention to wipe out the world, but haven’t reckoned with Maruti’s supernatural powers, and team that includes the shrewd Narada, the wise Brahma and the almighty Vishnu. A thrilling battle ensues. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Hanuman Returns is all set to storm the kids’ world on December 28.
First published in The Tribune dated December 23, 2005