Hindi cinema is truly evolving. Diverse themes are being narrated on celluloid by dream merchants. Technology too is slowly being given importance these days. We aren't 'there', but the Hindi film industry has started taking baby steps. The process has begun!
In the past, BHAGGMATI - THE QUEEN OF FORTUNES and HUM TUM merged live characters and animation in the narrative. The success of HANUMAN triggered off the trend of animation films here. Now MY FRIEND GANESHA takes the story ahead.
Let's get one thing straight before you read further. When you switch on a kiddie TV channel, you know what to expect: Programs that cater to this segment of viewers. Similarly, when you saunter into the auditorium to watch MY FRIEND GANESHA, it would be foolhardy to expect path-breaking or ground-breaking stuff vis-a-vis its content.
MY FRIEND GANESHA knows its target audience -- kids and kid at heart. So don't wear your thinking caps to introspect every frame of the film. The film is watchable because it doesn't get preachy. Sure, the sub-plots running parallel with the main story should've been far more convincing, but the moment Lord Ganesha is introduced in the plotline, things only get better.
The final word on MY FRIEND GANESHA: If the kids loved HANUMAN, there's a possibility that they may take to MY FRIEND GANESHA as well.
The story revolves around a family of four -- Aaditya [father; Kiran Janjani], Aarti [mother; Sheetal Shah], Ashu [8-year-old son; Ahsaas Channa], Aditi [father's sister; Aarya] and a maid [Gangutai; Upasana Singh]. The parents of the boy are too involved in their daily lives and hence cannot give much time to the boy, who always feels lonely. He would only get to be with the maid.
On one rainy day, the boy saves a mouse from drowning. He tells the maid about it, who explains to him that he has saved Lord Ganesha's pet ride. Gangutai explains to him the full episode of Lord Ganesha and Mushakraj.
Ashu tells Gangutai that he feels lonely and needs a friend and she responds by saying that Lord Ganesha can be his friend. The boy gets excited at this thought. The family undergoes a crisis, but Gangutai convinces everyone to bring Ganesha home this festival.
Ashu is excited, Ganesha comes to their home and things start getting better for the family. Ganesha becomes Ashu's friend and also solves the various problems faced by the family.
You don't take to MY FRIEND GANESHA initially. A lonely, neglected child craving for love, attention and companionship -- these portions are plain ordinary. But things start moving the moment the animation track begins. The entire portion revolving around Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Mushakraj, in animation format, not only enlightens the viewer, but takes the film to a different level. Also, the interaction between the kid and Lord Ganesha is wonderful. The only sore point is the writing. The father's problem at the bank, the mother's at her workplace and the bua being blackmailed by her lover, the writing is half-hearted.
Direction [Rajiv S. Ruia] is interesting in parts. Music is fair. 'O My Friend Ganesha' [music: Sameer Phaterpekar] and the aarti towards the end are nice. Cinematography [Jai Nandan Kumar] is fair. Animation is impressive.
Ahsaas Channa, the kid, is confident. Kiran Janjani does well. Sheetal Shah doesn't have much to do. Ditto for Aarya. Upasana Singh goes over the top, but the kids will like her. Mushtaq Khan, Aroon Bakshi and Anil Nagrath are adequate.
On the whole, MY FRIEND GANESHA is a decent attempt that's targeted at the kids. Businesswise, the film could've done with a far more aggressive promotion and a better release period [ideally, it should've released during the summer vacations. Not now, when the schools have re-opened]. Yet, in all fairness, if the kids take to the film, the numbers would only multiply.