Film: ‘Bird Idol’; Voiceover: Atul Kinagi, Shraddha Srivastava, Prroshant Narayanan, Saahil Chadha, Bhavana Balsaver; Director: Jyotin Goel; Animation and Design: Prasad Ajgaonkar; Rating: *** 1/2
Religion is so entrenched in the Indian psyche that even its entertainment industry began life with movies on gods. Animation films followed the trend with films on Lord Hanuman and Lord Krishna. The animation industry in India needed a sign, a moving away into the creative possibilities of animation. ‘Bird Idol’ provides just that. And thank ‘god’ for that.
‘Bird Idol’ is a very ingenious, imaginative and intelligent film. Unlike the usual trend with animation films of having animals, fishes, birds, even cars replace humans in the world ‘Bird Idol’ creates a parallel world of birds, one coexisting with humans. It develops a whole language and idiom surrounding birds that will have the audience in splits.
In the jungle, birds of different feather flock together. But the punishment for inter-specie love and marriages is death. When Pari and Pancham fall in love, they have no option but to run away to the city.
Here, they live in anonymity and raise a son, Hummi. When he aspires to participate in the ‘Bird Idol’, his parents fear that his appearance on TV will give away their identities. Hummi, however, manages to participate in disguise. Hell breaks when the judges expose his identity before a live TV audience.
When his parents are kidnapped and on the throes of death, it is up to Hummi, his girlfriend Surili and other friends to rescue them.
The analogy of ‘Bird Idol’ is brilliant. Throughout April the death sentence given to five members of a Khap in Haryana over the honour killing of a couple who married inter-caste made headlines worldwide. ‘Bird Idol’ attacks this narrow minded and orthodox customs of much of rural India, albeit in a light-hearted manner.
Unlike other animation films made in India, rooted either in mythology, or a western ethos, ‘Bird Idol’ has an urban middle-class Indian mentality. The language is a mix of ‘Hinglish’, just like we speak in cities.
There are enough witty puns, innuendoes and digs made on real people (Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik, Alisha Chinoy etc.) in the film for the pleasure of the discerning viewer. The writing and dialogues are witty. The direction of Jyotin Goel is sharp. The voices are good, and Prroshant Narayanan as Dhamki is brilliant. There’s not an idle moment in ‘Bird Idol’.
Animation films in Hollywood have budgets as high as $100 million. Consider that ‘Bird Idol’ was made in $1 million and you will begin to appreciate the hard work and frugality of the team.
What is, however, extremely ingenious of the film is that it manages to hide its flaws with wit and intelligence, making you barely notice it.
‘Bird Idol’ is a must watch for parents and kids. Even compared to the normal Bollywood fare released this summer, it is notches ahead – in story, direction, dialogue and intelligence.