Sweetness and Light

Just want to bring a smile to the reader's lips - and an occasional thought. Will try to stay away from controversial topics - rather create my own! And would definitely welcome comments. :-)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Animated Laughs

I watched Ice Age 2 yesterday. And thoroughly enjoyed it. Rolled in laughter, so to speak. Which might have disappointed my mother who could never fathom what I enjoyed in cartoons but always hoped I would grow out of them. Well, I have grown out of a lot of things - both vertically as well as horizontally - but not my love for animations. :)

The affair started with Mickey and Donald Show, 9 a.m. sunday morning on DD-I. Remember? That was a perfect way to start the sunday - get ready after bath and breakfast for 30 minutes of unadulterated fun, broken in between only by jingles like "Chalo chalein hum, le kar apni, Tobu cycle-ein....." It is still quite hummable, by the way! The show would start with a strip of Mickey, usually accompanied by Goofy, Minnie or Pluto, then there would be a strip of other characters like Chip 'n Dale, and then the grand finale of my favorite character, Donald Duck. After the show got over, there was always a feeling of emptiness, mixed with regret that the next sunday was, well, as far away as it could be. When Mickey and Donald was taken off the air (I still wonder why), I was heart-broken. Sundays lost their charm. Somehow I could never enjoy the replacements like He-Man - too predictable and hardly funny.

Then things got better once again with Jungle Book. Apart from giving a generation its anthem (Chaddi pahan ke phool khila hai - to be applied especially in hostels whenever a guy was caught in short shorts, or something even shorter), the brilliant animation accompanied by some very competent dubbing held me spellbound for weeks together. And this was when I was in 12th standard - not exactly a kid. But I still remember discussing the previous day's episode with friends at school on mondays, marveling over Sher Khan's wickedness (Nana Patekar's voice, by the way) and Baloo's goofiness. Normally dubbed versions have a horrible look and feel about them, but then, this had a touch of the sublime - from Gulzar himself. What else can you ask for?

At least till you get exposed to Tom and Jerry, that is! Can animation get better than this? Never mind, it's a rhetorical question. Whatever made me laugh in Mickey and Donald, was present here in extra helping. The colors were brighter, Tom dumber than Goofy and Jerry more wicked than Donald at his worst. I don't think I can really put it in words - those who have watched these cartoons will know. At time, my heart would really go out for Tom - no one deserves an adversary like Jerry.

Then there are these full length movies that take things to a different proportion altogether. I enjoyed movies like Lion King and Aladdin, but somehow the idea of going to a theatre and watching "cartoons" never seemed particularly appealing. That was till I saw "Finding Nemo". I first watched the movie on a flight back from London to Bombay, on a really small screen, but aided by a personal audio system that allowed me to listen to some side-splitting dialogues. I was completely fascinated by the dude turtles, student fishes who went to a different school on an Exchange program, sharks who were trying hard to turn vegetarians, the clownfish who couldn't tell a joke, and of course, the extremely helpful Dori with a rather volatile short term memory. I think at last count I have seen the movie five time - in screens of all sizes - and am still going strong. Finding Nemo is not just about funny characters or mind-blowing animation, it is also about life. Sample this dialogue between Marlon (Nemo's father) and Dori:

Marlon: I promised Nemo I will never let anything happen to him.
Dori: Well, thats a funny thing to promise!

Another movie that I love not only for the laughter it generates but the beauty of its sheer concept is Monsters, Inc. Top Scarer Sulley and his Scare Assistant Mike are adorable, as is the baby Boo, but the whole idea that there is more "power" (literally and figuratively) in making people laugh rather than scream is ageless, isn't it? Beautiful concept, beautifully executed, this is a heart-warming movie. My current count here is 3 and going strong again.

Anyway, a lot has changed in animations in my own living memory - from the sunday morning 9 a.m. shows to full length movies in theatres or CDs. My kid sister, who in her childhood was a model of Victorian primness and hence objected strongly to my laughing out loud at the antics of Donald, (imagine being scolded by a 6 year old sister for laughing at cartoons!) has since gotten some sense in her head and now laughs alongside with me on the rare occasions we watch Tom and Jerry together. And now I also have company in my seven year old nephew, Jerry (named thus by me since all I could think of when I first saw him at the hospital was a small mouse - Jerry), who rattles off the timings of all the cartoon shows on all the cartoon channels, and arranges his schedule accordingly.

It pleases my heart when I find more adults unaccompanied by kids than otherwise at movie halls for these movies - like it happened yesterday. As long as we have not lost the child inside us, I guess there is still hope for humanity - or at least, for laughing out loud! :-)

P.S. I finally managed, with a help of a less technologically challenged friend, to insert links to some other blogs that I like, and also to some websites that I frequent. Check them out at your leisure.


At 5:56 PM, Anonymous thpthh said...

REALLY! You *really* named your nephew Jerry? As his real name!! Cool.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Divya said...

:-),I so understand, these animated movies can never ever get boring, or rather I would never grow up so much that I dont enjoy them. The very fact that they give you that really 'nice' feeling, is enough for me to watch them over and over again!

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Prashant said...

talking of full length animation movies and no mention of Toy story or Shrek...hmm..if you havent seen them..I seriously recommend them. Also Timon and Pumba would be a nice addition to must-watch toons on a Sunday morning :)

At 6:28 PM, Blogger kundalini said...

loved this post, pankaj. :)

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Pankaj said...

Thanks Kundalini.
Yes thpthh, my nephew is actually called Jerry by everyone, though his legal name is Ayan.
Nice feeling - sort of sums it up, Divya.
Prashant - absolutely right. Its criminal not to mention Shrek. Toy Story I actually haven't watched yet.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Saurabh chakrabarti said...


How could you forget to include 'Lion King" in your list ?? I think the movie is fantastic and ever so enjoyable. I watch it still whenever I get chance with Anusha and there is so much philosophy in that 'funny' film' with the 'circle of life' and 'Hakuna Matata - always be happy' songs thrown in. The bond between Lion King and his son 'Simba' is absolutely great to watch ! Simba's growing up through pain and struggle to assume his rightful position in the jungle after his father's tragic death is so much poignant and heart-warming.
And yes, I would agree that Ice Age and Finding Nemo too are great animation films that touch the heart !! Thanks to Anusha, we have a full library of these movies at home now !!


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