Director: Nikhil Advani
Voice Cast: Swini Khara, Govinda, Akshaye Khanna, Suniel Shetty, Urmila Matondkar and Boman Irani
In India, making animation films automatically means you’re making a film for kids. But times are a changing and so is the way filmmakers today think about this genre. Nikhil Advani’s Delhi Safari is the perfect example of the way animation films are broadening their horizons. This 3D animation film can best be described as an entertainer with a social message. It has enough humour to please the kids and it has just the right content to allow its adult audience a long hard think.
Rapidly axed trees and dwindling animal numbers are two of India’s biggest ecological challenges today. Credit to Nikhil Advani that he conveys this confined to news reports and government files message in a fun way. It ensures the right kind of message reaches the audience and they understand it too. The unique part of this film is that it tells that sensitive story through animal characters.
The story kick starts into motion when humans encroach upon the jungles in an attempt to construct new buildings. In the process they rob the fauna of their natural habitat and they also end up killing Sultan the leopard. All this as the humans set up a promotional board that asks settlers to come live in harmony with nature. That the story conveys this irony is good, but the execution is far from credible. Nevertheless, the animals headed by the resolve of Sultan’s young son Yuvraj, decide to take their problem of encroachment to the Parliament in Delhi. In order to be able to communicate with the humans, they seek the help a pet parrot and make him a spokesperson.
Yuvraj’s party includes his mother, a bear, a monkey etc. These animals have been voiced by popular Bollywood stars like Urmila Matondkar, Boman Irani, Govinda and Suniel Shetty. You might think it adds value to the film but its effect is the exact opposite. Advani would have done better to hire regular voice over artistes, because the familiarity with the voices of B-town stars robs the animal characters of their original charm and makes them seem like the actors voicing them. For example, the monkey is voiced by Govinda. The primate is supposed to be loud-mouthed and over confident an exact template of the countless roles we’ve seen Govinda play in David Dhawan films.
Not just that, Advani’s stuffed the film with innumerable songs like a regular three-hour Bollywood feature. It makes the narrative less effective, distracting the viewer from the more important and engrossing story of the film. The film also meanders into unnecessary plot developments with wolves and honey bees. You can see these developments are included to create entertaining situations targeted at a young audience. While these sequences are funny, they don’t add to the story.
The 3D is nothing to write home about either. But the CGI detailing on the animals is fantastic. That the story holds weight also works in favour of the film. If only Advani had not strayed from the social subject and made a tighter and breezier film. Watch this with your kids and you’re guaranteed smiles all the way.
Written By: Raghuvendra Singh