For some strange, inexplicable reason, animation movies have not been embraced warmly by Indian moviegoers, although the last two movies [ARJUN THE WARRIOR PRINCE and KRISHNA AUR KANS], both 2012 releases, had some gorgeous images to offer. Now DELHI SAFARI makes an earnest attempt to match up to the toon flicks served by Hollywood. Also, this one's in stereoscopic 3D.
DELHI SAFARI goes beyond the boundaries of a "cartoon film" and attains a much elevated status. There's humor, there're sad moments, also songs, witty one-liners, loads of excitement and fun, but along with the joy and amusement, DELHI SAFARI carries a message: It raises its voice against deforestation and protection of wildlife habitat. In fact, the message is hammered well in the final moments of the movie. Clearly, DELHI SAFARI is not merely an attempt to delight the kids, but grown-ups as well.
A thunderous noise breaks the silence of the national park. A closer look reveals the jungle has been raided by man and machine. Sultan, the king, tries to fight a futile battle and ends up losing his life. The animals discuss their fate of losing their habitat to human beings. Everyone is convinced that it is futile to fight humans and the only option is to leave and move to a safer home.
The hot-headed monkey, Bajrangi, wants to declare a full-scale war against humans. But Bagga, the bear, has a more civilized suggestion. He believes that all problems could be sorted out through peaceful discussions. So the best way to get back their homes is to have a dialog with humans. The problem is, no one can speak the human language. The pigeon recommends Alex, the talking parrot, who can come to their rescue. Yuvi, Sultan's cub, Bajrangi and Bagga decide to kidnap Alex from his luxurious golden cage. However, their hope turns to despair as Alex hates animals. Loves humans.
The journey to Delhi begins. A motley group of animals travel across India with a message. A message that they discover not only plagues their homes, but the homes and lives of thousands of other animals on the way.
DELHI SAFARI has several brilliantly stylized sequences, like the one at the very outset which brings back memories of THE LION KING. The fight with the hyenas in Gujarat and the wild chase by honey bees, which results in a roller coaster ride, also knock you off your feet. In fact, it's a treat devouring these portions in 3D. Conversely, the leisurely pacing [at times] and a few unwanted songs and sequences act as roadblocks. The culmination - the Prime Minister promising to address the issue - could've been persuasive. It seems abrupt.
DELHI SAFARI takes giant strides as far as animation goes. Of course, we still have a long way to go before we match up to the Hollywood standards, but you can't deny that the efforts are getting superior. In fact, I'd go to the extent of saying that DELHI SAFARI is the best animation film to come out of India. Besides, notwithstanding the hiccups, it's cleverly written [screenplay: Nikhil Advani, Suresh Nair, Girish Dhamija], has smart and witty lines [dialogue: Girish Dhamija, Rahul Awate, Milap Zaveri] and is delightfully rendered in 3D.
Advani has roped in reputable actors for voiceovers. Akshaye Khanna [parrot], Govinda [monkey], Boman Irani [bear], Suniel Shetty [leopard], Urmila Matondkar [leopard] and Swini Khara [cub] add credence and authority to the on-screen characters. Prem Chopra, Saurabh Shukla, Sanjay Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal and Girish Dhamija have done the voiceover for other characters.
On the whole, DELHI SAFARI offers something new on the platter. There's ample for the kids, but there's enough for the grown-ups as well.