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This one breaks hearts and laddoos – Beyond Bollywood

Green Gold Animation’s much-hyped maiden live-action film in the Chhota Bheem franchise is extremely disappointing. From the cast to the writing, screenplay, and direction, filmmaker Rajiv Chilaka gets most things wrong. Child artistes Aashriya Mishra and Advik Jaiswal are the lone saving grace.

Rating: ⭐️  (1 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

12 years ago, there was Chhota Bheem and The Curse of Damyaan, the first animated film from Green Gold Animation to have a theatrical release. 12 years later, Chhota Bheem creator Rajiv Chilaka has chosen the same story for their first-ever live-action film. Naturally, it has some changes, with this live-action film penned by the duo of Sridisha Dilip and Niraj Vikram. The earlier film was penned by Richa Ingle Deo and Seeta.

Rajiv Chilaka

After 16 years of the franchise, hundreds of episodes, and over a dozen films, why did Rajiv Chilaka choose The Curse of Damyaan tale for their first-ever live-action film? The filmmaker cited the example of Disney, which also made live-action films of their classic musicals like The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.

The challenge with any such film is whether it can achieve the same emotional connection, both in terms of character design and voice quality. Except for the blue monkey Jaggu and Damyaan, all the leading characters in this film are humans. Mukesh Chhabra and his casting team have put together a cast led by child actor Yagya Bhasin.

We haven’t seen the cartoon film, so we can’t point out the differences, if any. This live-action film begins with Skandhi (Makarand Deshpande) and Takshina (Navneet Kaur Dhillon), the servants of demon snake Damyaan arriving in Dholakpur seeking a brave warrior to help them retrieve the buried city of Sonapur. King Indravarma (Sanjay Bishnoi) falls prey to their plan and assigns Chhota Bheem and his little friends for the mission.

The desert setting and Skandhi tricking Chhota Bheem and his friends are reminiscent of Jafar tricking Aladdin in the 1992 Disney musical. However, the Green Gold Animation film follows its own unique journey thereafter.

The Damyaan story is fine and intriguing, but the disappointing aspects here are the mediocre writing, screenplay, and the unconvincing leading cast. One should never be critical of child artistes; the onus lies on the director to get the best out of the young talents. Prior to the release, we felt that Chilaka and his casting director, Mukesh Chhabra, had found the right faces to play the marquee human characters. Sadly, save for a couple of child artistes, the rest fall flat.

Yagya Bhasin

Young Yagya Bhasin has been in the industry for a few years now. We first saw him as the adorable child of Kangana Ranaut in the film Panga [2020], where he left a lasting impression. While Chhota Bheem doesn’t have curly hair, casting isn’t about finding exact clones. Bhasin and others seemed suitable for their roles, but unfortunately, Bhasin appears visibly burdened by the task of portraying the iconic cartoon character. The lisp only adds to the viewer’s frustration. What further disappoints is how the makers didn’t even use the trademark ‘Bheeeeeeem’ appeal in the film.

Kabir Sajid is fairly decent as Kalia. However, Chilaka bizarrely chooses to ignore the classy Bheem vs. Kalia duels. Apart from Aashriya Mishra and Advik Jaiswal, who play Chutki and Raju, respectively, there is a lack of energy from the other child artistes.

Aashriya Mishra as Chutki

Young Mishra impresses with her smile and energy. You look at her and it feels like Chutki coming to life. The key to any work involving a child is to let them be themselves. Mishra and Jaiswal seem to genuinely enjoy themselves throughout this 145-minute arduous film. Young Swarna Pandey is undeniably adorable, but perhaps too young to justify more scenes for Princess Indumati.


Damyaan is a CGI creation, but the voice behind him isn’t convincing. It’s common for villains to have trademark dialogue, but it doesn’t need to be repeated in every scene. Here, each time Damyaan appears on screen, the viewer is forced to endure the painstaking line, “Kape ki dharti, thar tharaega aasmaan, duniya pe raj karne aaya hai Damyaan”.

Makarand Deshpande,  Navneet Kaur Dhillon (R)

Makarand Deshpande is a doyen of theatre, but how often does he flatter to deceive in movies? Here, as Skandhi, he tries too hard to be funny but ends up being even more annoying. Meanwhile, Navneet Kaur Dhillon is a gorgeous lady with tremendous screen presence and has the best costume in this live-action film. However, the former Miss India has miles to go as an actor.

Anupam Kher

Anupam Kher doesn’t appreciate being called a veteran. The seasoned actor, who also runs an acting institute, fails to convince us as Guru Shambu. If Guruji had all the magic in the world, did he really need Chhota Bheem to stop Damyaan? All it needed was one prophecy years ago to justify Chhota Bheem’s presence in Guru Shambu’s era. The one thing that Kher inadvertently gets right is by reminding the writers that badhai is more appropriate than mubarak. The latter word perhaps didn’t exist during the Chhota Bheem era.

The one character that truly tests your patience is Raja Indravarma. Frankly, we’ve never been fond of this king who relies on young children to save Dholakpur. While the subpar child artistes can at least claim age as a factor, what excuse does Sanjay Bishnoi have for such an amateurish performance?

The most disappointing aspect of this film is how Green Gold Animation, a pioneer in Indian animation, has delivered such average visual effects. Aside from the colorful creations in one song, the rest of the visuals are rather unpleasant. Additionally, except for the Jamboora song crooned by Sukhwinder Singh, the other tracks lack appeal.

Rajiv Chilaka aimed to follow in the footsteps of Disney. However, it’s worth noting that Disney has also faced criticism over its live-action adaptations of classic musicals. Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin [2019] was considered a disaster, and even Jon Favreau’s The Lion King [2019], which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, failed to impress everyone. While this reviewer enjoyed The Little Mermaid [2023], directed by Rob Marshall, it received its share of criticism, particularly for casting an African American as the mermaid.

Yours truly and the generations before have all grown up watching Western cartoons, and there’s no harm in it. We felt a great sense of pride the moment Chilaka gave us Chhota Bheem. It felt like India was having its childhood. Fans eagerly awaited the moment when Chhota Bheem & co. would come to life on the big screen. Unfortunately, this maiden live-action film does not do justice to the legend of Chhota Bheem. And this breaks our hearts, and laddoos.

Watch the video review below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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