Disney, Graphiti’s funny yoga show ‘YOM’ begins airing

With Prime minister Narendra Modi giving a push to yoga through the institution of Yoga Day, it is no surprise that even Disney India is taking that route come 1 May.  It is all set to debut a flash animation series called YOM (Yogendra Omprakash Mathur) at 4:30 pm for five days a week Monday to Friday. Created by Munjal Shroff who heads Graphiti Multimedia, the show is an attempt to make yoga look cool – not boring like most 11 year olds normally think it is. The 52×11” show  is about a 11-year old yoga enthusiast who performs asanas such as eagle, camel, monkey, crocodile, dolphin, cat etc. He then imbibes the strength, skills and powers related to that animal after whom the asanas are named. The young adventurous lad then uses this special power to protect his city, Chotasheher against the evil threats lurking around. “We started developing and have been working on this project since 2011. Often when we think of superheroes or superpowers, we imagine some alien source of power or mutation. So, we thought, why not look at an Indian aspect as a source of superpower. That’s how the idea of yoga came into picture. We decided to do something cool about yoga and at the same time make the character relatable. A character which will have a vulnerable side too and goes beyond his powers by using his intelligence or simple act of bravery as that’s what we believe makes an enduring character. Once we were ready with our show and character bible, we went ahead and pitched it to Disney in 2014 and from thereon we started working with Disney during  the production stage.”
However, YOM has taken some time to hit the mousehouse channel. The announcement of the its production happened in 2015; the airing date was slated to be 2016. However, in November 2016, Disney Channel introduced The Astra Force which has gone onto to become its  second highest watched show. And YOM’s premier date was pushed ahead to summer 2017. Shroff says what makes YOM funny despite its fast-pace, and adventure, is the fact that the boy retains the traits of each of the animals for 11 minutes, during which he also has to battle his desire to chase and eat mice (as an eagle), resist his desire to drink milk (as a cat in the cat asana) and even lice (as a dog)! And through all these cravings he has to fight his enemies and other crooks. Additionally, he can use these powers only for the betterment of humankind and of course most importantly ‘he cannot tell anyone.’ However, his frenemy Riya is the only one who knows his true identity. Whenever Yom transforms into his super-hero avatar, Riya gets a watch that alerts them about how much time he has left before he transforms back. Riya is his time-keeper, his guide when his aasanas go berserk, an expert lab technician and…much to his irritation…a total Ms Know It All! While Riya is an extremely book-smart, straight-A student with a mischievous sense of humour, who always thinks she’s right, our hero is also not far behind. He is a science-freak and keeps making bizarre, fun contraptions but gets bullied in school by the Gutli gang. In his personal life, the latter bunch of hoodlums and his class teacher are his biggest bêtes noires. But bigger challenges out there in the city make his personal problems diminish. Describing the villains of Chotasheher, Shroff elaborates, “We have three main villains in the show who try to terrorise and rampage the city. There’s Dr. Cheentimal who is a genius gone wrong, next we have Don Doodhwala who wants to be the richest ‘Doodhwala’ (milkman) in the world and sarpanch Gafledar who wants to steal the supposedly buried treasure in the Chotasheher School.” And each of these villains have their own interesting sidekicks. Dr. Cheentimal has Totapari who idolises him but at the same time is the dumbest kid; Chipkoli is Serpanch Gafledaar’s protégé who is a sullen rebel, a fashion disaster and the one who speaks English horribly; whereas Don Doodhwala has two loyal henchmen – Paplu and Taplu – the dumbest dudes to ever walk the earth. The unique aspect about YOM is the real time counter shown on the TV screen. During each episode, a 60 second countdown pops up on the TV set which would also be the last one minute on Riya’s watch. Shroff has creator, co-producer, and co-development credits for the show while Tilak Shetty serves as the co-producer. Abhijit Nadkarni is the executive producer. Umesh Padalkar, Svani Parekh along with Shetty are the rest of the co-developers. YOM has been written by Svani Parekh, Yogesh Chandekar, Sandeep Patil, Sweksha Bhagat, Kaushalendra Singh and the music has been provided by Vidyut Goswami. With the launch of a new channel Sony YAY!, the competition in the kids TV genre has become intense, with each one grappling to capture more eyeballs. And this is why it’s the best time to be in kids’ content animation creation, says an observer. “The acceptance and hunger towards homegrown shows is on an upward trend. YOM not only is indigenous but also while entertaining and engaging kids with the content, it tries to subtly educate them as well,” says she. The IP of YOM is owned by Graphiti Multimedia. By the looks of the promo, it looks interesting, has been neatly animated and does have an international appeal to it. Shroff is in talks with international channels and VOD platforms as well. Though yoga has its roots  in India, it’s been widely followed worldwide and with a show which is trying to inculcate its values to kids, it might interest international platforms as well. Shall we do a sukhasana for that?