Toonpur Ka Superrhero: Quite Fine Tooned
By MovieTalkies.com, 25 December 2010
To become a real life hero to his kids, who consider him a fake one, 'filmy' superstar Aditya Kumar steps in to save a world full of warring cartoons. It might be twisted logic, but oddly enough, it works for this week's release, 'Toonpur Ka Superrhero'.
Produced by Kumar Mangat and Krishika Lulla, 'Toonpur Ka Superrhero' is helmed by Kireet Khurana, son of Bhimsain Khurana, one of the pioneers of Indian animation. Kireet also pens the screenplay for the story, which is written by Raagi Bhatnagar. Essentially a children's flick, starring Ajay Devgn and Kajol, 'Toonpur…' is India's first live action animation film, and is aiming to be the saviour of India's ailing animation industry.
As the film opens up, we learn that 'Devtoons' and 'Toonasurs', denizens of our primary setting, 'Toonpur', have apparently been at war for years over the usurping of power by one Mr. Jagaaro, who belongs to the latter group. The good guys, the 'Devtoons', are of the belief that 'democracy', whatever that is, is a cartoon's birthright (they keep repeating it, by the way), and by God, they shall have it. The bad guys, the 'Toonasurs', obviously, don't agree.
Having reached an impasse, the 'Devtoons' resort to kidnapping real world filmy star, Aditya, to find them victory against the 'Toonasurs'. Aditya himself is unhappy in the real world that idolises him even as his own son calls him a 'fake hero' for using stuntmen and duplicates in his films. The rest of the film deals with Aditya's attempts to help the 'Devtoons' and prove to his son that he isn't a 'fake hero'.
Right off the bat, the story finds shades of 1996's Michael Jordan Looney Tunes starrer 'Space Jam', which had a similar premise. That the film's makers find a way to Indianise it is a commendable feat in itself. One of its main problems, though, is that it isn't quite sure of its humour quotient and underestimates its target audience, today's kids. Instead of wit, the film largely relies on gags for its laughs. So, kids are expected to giggle at things like characters getting flattened by buses and exploding, face blackening grenades.
While these gags are good for a laugh or two, the film tends to compare poorly with its international competition like a 'Kung Fu Panda' or a 'Shrek', that manage to entertain kids without needing to resort to cheap shticks. Still, while the film's humour may not win it a great many awards, that it still manages to pull out a fair few laughs in between from the audience bodes well for it.
The film also seems to be a bit confused about its characterisations, with some rather oddly gratuitous shots of animated bosoms populating a fair few frames. Though it might be nitpicking to point it out, one must say that they are quite a pointless inclusion in a "children's film". 'Toonpur...' could also have used a bit more imagination in character concepts. For starters, the 'Devtoons' seem to be choc a bloc with Hindi film tropes, with everything from a fat, rolling pin wielding Gujarati ben and an Einsteinesque mad Parsi scientist, to a Marathi 'Pandu havaldar' and Loveena, a boy crazy Anglo Indian girl.
The film also seems to derive 'inspiration' from a variety of sources, with the Gandalfesque Gyaandev (the 'Devtoons' wise old man), the Voldemort meets Yamraj Rubdoot, Bolly, a little sardar who seems a take on the 'tussi na jao' kid played by Parzaan Dastoor in 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' and even a Tazz like mutt who is part of the 'Toonasurs'. However, the giggle inducing Guppy, the rolly polly Bong, with his Elvis like get up and ample bling, singing parodies of Bappida's melodies, quite clearly takes the cake. That he has managed to anger the original is a different matter altogether.
On the technical side, the film shores up fairly well. Though the live action animation interaction is a bit jarring at some points where the production values slip, for the most part they meld nicely. Though the film is in 2D, the 3 dimensional models of the film's characters are all uniformly cute and in sync with their voiceovers, quite unlike most stuff that has been emerging from India's local market in the past. Given the fact that the last animated hit India saw was the hand drawn 'Hanuman', 'Toonpur' is a path breaking experience.
In the acting department, Ajay Devgn is definitely the strength of the film, as he doesn't belie even for a moment the fact that he is emoting with animated characters. Though the second largest role, Kajol doesn't find a whole lot of screen time; still, in her vastu obsessed character, the actress grabs a few laughs and handles her role nicely. The kids, Ameya Pandya and Chinky Jaiswal, though, can use some acting workshops, with the former quite unpolished in his delivery. Other actors, Tanuja, Raza Murad, Delnaz Paul and Mukesh Tiwari come in for literal blink and miss single scene roles and are all quite fair. On the animated side, none of the voice actors find a lot of scope, and come off just about competent.
There isn't a great amount of music in the film, though the two songs actually included in the film are quite deftly done by Anu Malik. Rubdoot's entry number is a real highlight of the film, in fact, both visually and music wise.
Overall, 'Toonpur Ka Superrhero' is an average entertainer, which doesn't quite tread the same path as its international counterparts. While the detractors will say that it is unfair to compare it to the big budget Disneys and Pixars, it must be noted that the film is let down not by its animation, but by its characterisations and screenplay, factors that do not depend on a budget. Still, compared to previous fare passed off as animation in India, the film is a good start. While it might not be quite the family entertainer, the film will still manage to get its share of the kiddie audiences it so craves.