By Hindustan Times
Toonpur Ka Supehero
Director: Kireet Khurana
Actors: Ajay Devgn, Kajol
Children evidently make for cinema’s best audiences. For one, they never buy less than three tickets at one go. While they’re harder to please, once they do love a film, they express the sentiment better with their parent’s money: merchandise sales instantly pick up, video games flood mall-stores, franchises are easy to roll out.
Hollywood’s built a multi-million dollar empire based on this logical premise. The Mumbai producers here realise this. But if this is supposed to be India’s first live-action animation, top star-cast, Christmas weekend answer to Disney-Pixar, well then, it’s certainly not good enough, or it’s just a good effort at best.
Ajay Devgn steps into a relatively second-rate computer generated planet, abducted by some cartoon characters who bumble around a Toonpur Ka Superheronever-land full of Devtoons. Folks in this hotchpotch virtual toon town appear modeled on someone or the other from Bollywood itself: a hot woman seems a bit like Aishwarya Rai, an old man sounds like AK Hangal, a li’l sardar called Bolly is a movie-buff and could well be the kid from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai…. Of course, the most amusing one is called Gappi. Gappi’s inspiration is unlikely to be equally amused.
I remember doing a television interview with the bling king Bappi Lahiri once, where he had us edit out all references to his name on the show, because I’d called him Bappi, not Bappi-da! It’s not a surprise Bappi (sorry, Bappi-da), a master of “inspirations” himself, has sued the makers of this movie for basing a cartoon character on his gold chains and cute potbelly. How dare they. Seriously.
Gappi might make for a good laugh still. His other cartoon friends are depressed but. Devtoons are warring against another set of computer generated citizens called Toonasurs. Their country's turned into a dictatorship -- not clear how. Devtoons want democracy back, whatever that means. They suggest it is a “cartoon's right”. They're right.
Ajay (Devgn), they believe, is the human hero who can help them. He’s a movie star by profession. They’ve seen him pull off action sequences on the big screen. He uses ‘body doubles’ for those stunts. But the cartoon characters don’t know this. The hero’s kids at home do. And they don’t think much of their “hero” daddy. The superstar wants to impress his kids. The film wants to impress yours. The human hero fights the cartoon villain as he moves up levels in a video game. It’s all pretty lame.
The connect is somewhere lost. Sure, you don’t quite feel like the target audience of this film (and you’re perhaps not -- at least I’m not). Which says more about the film than your age. Ever felt old watching, say the incredible Up, Kung Fu Panda, Despicable Me…. Why reinvent the wheel. I’d rather Devgn dived into a well-written, world-class Disney world instead.