On 16 September, Motu Patlu, one of kids’ most favourite shows, had completed 1000 episodes, and that too in less than a decade! Created/produced by Cosmos-Maya and launched in October 2012 on Nickelodeon, Motu Patlu has captivated millions of viewers across the world and has enjoyed a consistent top TV rating (as per BARC).
AnimationXpress spoke to Motu Patlu creative director Suhas Kadav who reflected back on the illustrious journey of this animated IP and its world-famous characters. Here’s what he said:
> Congratulations on the 1000 episodes! Please tell us about the journey of this iconic animated IP since its inception?
The journey of Motu Patlu from 2011 until now has been stupendous, to say the least. We have completed 1000 episodes and the excitement feels just like the first episode. Motu Patlu was mostly a very popular comic series in the UP and Northern India. When the owners of LotPot comics came to us with the idea of making this into a live-action comic series, we convinced them to make it a 3D animated series. And once they agreed, the rest is history.
> How did you start adapting the characters from Comics to Animation?
When our team started working on this animated series, the first big challenge was how to make these bald, grown-up heroes likeable to kids. At that time, Chhota Bheem was very popular amongst the kids, so we conducted a detailed survey of their likings and dislikings for animated characters and stories.
We weren’t sure how the animation, or the stories would pan out in every episode, hence we decided to make a two and half minute promo of the IP first. The promo was made keeping in mind that we wanted our grown-up heroes Motu and Patlu to be buffoons yet heroic in their own ways. We wanted Motu Patlu to stand out as an animated series, unique and different from any other shows on air.
For the two and half minute promo, which was my idea, I got the backing of my team as well as Ketan [Mehta] Sir who gave me the freedom to explore and experiment. The promo was a huge success, and brought in story, comedy, action, drama and emotions in a beautiful blend that the channel loved very much. With the approval from the channel [Nickelodeon], the journey of the 1000 episodes started.
> Did the team make additions or introduce new characters?
Motu, Patlu, Ghasitaram and Jhatka were retained from the original comic series, but Inspector Chingum was our brainchild as we needed a police in the world of Motu Patlu. We read a lot of the comic book stories but we decided to keep the essence of it alive while making new stories in animation.
We also added a villain named John and worked on unique dialogues for each character that was envisaged. Their costumes, behaviour, comedy timings, and so on was very precisely designed to give a different blend of comedy and entertainment. For instance- Motu saying “Khali pet mere dimaag ki batti nahi jalti”, or Inspector Chingum saying “Chingum ke changul se bachna yumpossible bole toh Impossible” were the brilliant catch phrases that we sketched for the characters.
Minute details regarding storyline, flow, action sequences, and more were neatly designed to meet the entertainment needs of the kids. In today’s world, kids watch every type of content across different genres. We kept this aspect in mind and started making stories for the IP. Even after 1000 episodes, as a director, I still sit with the writer and work on the storyline, graph, comedy gags, action, flow of the episode to give it a perfect entertainment quotient for the kids.
> Please tell us how you managed to keep the comedy elements genuinely funny that kids would enjoy and not just over the surface?
We took great care of the kind of comedy we show to the kids. Some of the comedy sequences are pretty harmful for the kids as they try to replicate the same but we kept the comedy very simple yet funny. We kept it very spontaneous and organic, but we made the action sequences larger than life so that kids enjoy them most.
The element of comedy was also imbibed in the setting. We designed Furfuri nagar for Motu Patlu, a small village where they lived in a small house, visited a small tea stall where their friends would come and talk or share their problems to Motu Patlu who’d solve it. This was the basic format which we kept throughout the series. Other locations had a police station, bus stand, Jhatka’s lab, which made the village the primary location for all the stories.
Over the years, we kept improving and improvising the quality of storytelling, animation, locations, texture, rendering to give the series an international look and feel. The first season had a simple looking FurFuri Nagar which we modernised in the next few seasons. In seasons five and six, we made FurFuri Nagar a modern city and Motu Patlu’s small house was changed into a big flat with a big swimming pool. Going further, Motu Patlu traveled to London and used more than 30 locations there to bring an international feel to the IP. We even explored locations in the entire Europe and also added Germany to the travel list of Motu Patlu. In the latest development, Motu Patlu will be traveling across India to bring the flavour of our country in the IP.
> What factors do you guys keep in mind to make these iconic characters retain their fans with engaging stories over the years? What according to you is the reason for the IP enjoying huge popularity even today?
We have kept the characters very simple so that children connect to them easily, and instantly feel that although Motu Patlu are grown-ups, they make mistakes too. We want the kids to have fun and resonate with them-like, Motu getting powers once he eats samosas. The stories revolve around Motu Patlu [and team] trying to solve any problem while imparting values, with a happy ending. A sense of justice prevails and makes kids realise problems people face in everyday life and try to overcome them.
Our stories sometimes involve a villain robbing people by making them unconscious with chloroform or sometimes Motu given the task of cooking something for Patlu and himself as they are hungry. Taking such small problems, we try to give messages to kids as well as excite them by bringing superficial anatomies, believable and exciting stories. Right from the first episode, we have kept the flavour of our stories simple, engaging full of anecdotes of everyday life so that children stay connected with the characters.
> How challenging to make a show for kids with adult characters?
Actually it is quite difficult to make adult characters likeable by the kids. Because if you see the perception around the animation world, an adult character is more or less a superhero whether it is Superman, Spider-Man, or our own Shaktimaan. So it was difficult to carve out the characters. Also, the combination of Motu Patlu wasn’t easy to create as both of them had varying characteristics. While Motu was short and fat, Patlu was slim and tall, both of them were bald. Also having different characteristics for Ghasitaram and Jhatka. Yet we used these contrasting attributes to create the world which kids love.
> Tell us about the tele-movies you have created till date around the characters. Do you have any plans for a theatrical feature with the characters in the near future?
We have already produced more than 1000 episodes including a theatrical. It was a huge success and according to me, the movie was the most successful in terms of viewership and revenue collected than any other animation movie made in India. We have also made 21 tele-movies around the IP. They’re quite similar to theatrical movies as they are also 80 mins. films but are meant only for the television. We are very proud of these as they always ranked number one in TRPs. The 22nd and 23rd tele-movies are now in production. We would make a minimum of 100 tele-movies and the process of theatrical feature film is also in the future plans.
> How did you ideate the characters’ look, mannerisms and features for their animated versions?
We had to stick to their look and costume as in the comics. We took some creative liberty with costumes when Motu, Patlu were put in a night scene given night suits. We have used Motu’s costumes with images of samosa or Patlu’s costume with images of bulb’s or given them different suits when they go for a party and so on. Also, we have taken extensive care in using Hindi language for our characters to communicate and have even used a lot of Shudh-hindi words at times so that kids get to know and learn about the language and understand the meanings. This idea clicked and we received phone calls from a lot of parents saying that their kids were learning good Hindi by watching Motu Patlu. We follow all the SMP rules to make our episodes and its message goes to every kid. For eg. learning ‘muhawaras’ and understanding their meaning to use and communicate in real life.
We also researched extensively on the behaviour, mannerisms before we went into production. We researched how the characters would walk, talk, fight, run, and so on. Motu has a big tummy, so we had to come up with a way to make him fight and run. Right from backgrounds, lighting, cloth technology, behavioural pattern everything was researched extensively. We tried to keep the world, characters, costumes and everything realistic so that the kids can connect with Motu Patlu very easily.
We also worked a lot on the voices of each character. The voice dubs are unique and we worked with the artist to give a funny yet distinctive feature to their voices.
This animation IP is so close to my heart, that I would want this IP to have more than 10,000 episodes and more than 1000 movies while its popularity keeps growing everyday. We’d keep showing our rich Indian culture and heritage to our young generation with lots of entertainment and comedy.