Dholakpur To China
The character of Chhota Bheem, the ladoo-eating hero of Dholakpur, has a fan following among kids, and it always interesting to see what the Indian animation industry can come up with, that is not linked to mythology.
Chhota Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka, takes the hero and his entourage (Chutki, Raju, Kalia, Dholu, Bholu and Jaggu the monkey) to China, set in an indeterminate period of the past. They are all Kung Fu experts and there to participate in the competition organized by Emperor Jian, on his precious daughter Princess Kia’s birthday.
Kia was blessed by the dragon that people of the kingdom worship, which makes her special, but also the target of her evil cousin Zuhu, who wants to acquire the dragon’s powers that are hidden in a firestone, and also grab Jian’s throne.
The film begins with the tournament, where Bheem defeats fighters bigger than him. But when Zuhu appears suddenly to kidnap Kia, he is unable to save her. He promises his buddy Ming, who is also Kia’s friend, and the distraught Emperor, that he will rescue the princess.
He and his gang embark on the adventure to find Kia, followed by some mercenaries, who are lured by the huge reward promised by the Emperor. On the way, he finds an unlikely teacher, and learns how to channelize his strength to fight the powerful enemy.
The film has beautiful animation, but it falters with the plot and pacing. For a film aimed at children, it is much too long and slow, the language is difficult and the songs dull. The humour is off the mark most of the time, and it is sad to see two fat boys constantly mocked.
There are so many Hollywood animation films released in India, which have fabulous dubbing by top stars. Chhota Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka is sorely lacking in the voice department; the characters speak in shrill, cartoon-y voices, that grate on the nerves after a while. Kids will probably not mind it so much, and enjoy the well-done action sequences. The film is undoubtedly an improvement on the general standard of locally-made animation films, but to reach international levels will perhaps take time and a lot more talent.