Hinduism is filled with numerous mythological stories. There are the stories of the ten avatars of Vishnu, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad Gita etc. Along with them, there are various stories associated with the many important characters in each of these epics. The Indian culture and history too are teeming with stories on icons like Prahalad, stories on Lord Shiva, Ganesha tales, Panchatantra tales, Jataka tales, stories on Buddha, the Akbar-Birbal stories, the Tenali Ramakrishna tales, and many more.
It was considered necessary to pass on these parables down the generations as these contained a lot of wisdom. These stories actually depicted the valuable teachings of the ancient Hindu sages. The story format made them highly retainable in memory. These stories not only entertained but educated one too.
In ancient times these stories were the curriculum for educating Shishyas or students and were passed on by learned gurus in the gurukuls. In the recent past, they were narrated by grandparents or parents to the young ones to enrich and educate them. Then came the illustrative story books which passed on these tales down the generations. In the present day the vehicle to pass on these beloved stories has been animated films.
Ganesha in Animated films
With technological advancements, there are many animated films that have been made for the young in the past decade all over the world. The young audience in India has been exposed to a number of animated fairy tales, films, and cartoons from the Western world for many years. Having observed the lasting impact that these have on young children a number of filmmakers and animators have slowly started tapping the rich cultural lore of India. The many Hindu gods and goddesses have made good subjects for the animated exploration. Also, there is the belief that the stories and attributes of these gods and goddesses strengthen our spirit and propel us to improve the powers of our body, mind and soul, hence they are popular subject choices.
Since most of these films are targeted at the young audience, these stories too have been about a young Krishna, a young Bheem, a young Ghatodgacha or a young Ganesha. These films carry a twofold purpose –they educate the young child in the ways of Hindu mythologies and stories, and also provide entertainment to the target audience which anyway is extremely fond of watching animated films! Hence such explorations are becoming hugely popular.
Ganesha has been a very popular subject in the area of television serials and animated films. But in most of them, Ganesha has been portrayed as a child so that the target audience can identify very well with the adorable character. The mythology of Ganesha, the story of Ganesha being the scribe of Sage Vyasa, the important story behind Ganesha’s elephant head, stories of his valour as a child, his fondness of sweets, his witty and wise nature, his adventures with the modern day gadgets and children have been some of the topics of the many animated series and films created with him as the central character.
These animation films indicate the love and reverence people have towards Ganesha and how they have succeeded in integrating him into their way of life and making it possible for a traditional Ganesha to be modern and cool at the same time! This is truly a wonderful example of the evolution of religious Ganesha culture into a popularistic culture.
A few examples of this genre of animation films with Ganesha as the central hero are presented below:
*Hamara Dost Ganesha
This is an animated movie in the Hindi language about the adventures of Ganesha and his band of his kiddie friends. This was aired on the Cartoon Network channel of India.
* Bal Ganesh
Bal Ganesh is a 3D animated musical feature film by Shemaroo Entertainment’s Animation division directed by Mr. Pankaj Sharma. The film is about the adventures of Lord Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god as a child. The film is about 100 minutes long and has 6 to 7 lilting songs by eminent Indian singers like Asha Bhosale, Usha Mangeshkar, Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan and Kailash Kher.
This film has the distinction of being the first Indian animated film to be promoted at the International Cannes Film Festival Cannes Film Festival.
The premise of the film is about the fact that the elephant God, adored and loved by millions worldwide, was once a little child. As an endearing, intelligent child, he had his own set of adventures in which he had a lot of fun. The movie presents Ganesha as a naughty prankster whose childhood antics are spiced with foot-tapping music, delicious Modaks and a naughty Mooshak (mouse). The narrative is endearing to the target audience.
* “My Friend Ganesha” series
My friend Ganesha was made in the year 2007 in the Indian language Hindi. The story revolves around a family of 4 members which includes the parents, an eight-year old boy and their maid. The parents are busy with their lives and that leaves the boy lonely. He has only the maid for company. One rainy day he rescues a mouse from drowning and brings it home. The maid is a devotee of Ganesha and tells him that he had saved Ganesha’s pet and goes on to extol about Ganesha. She also tells him that Ganesha is a friend on whom everyone can count. This propels the boy to deeply believe so. At this time to sort out a crisis that the family is going through, the maid convinces everyone in the family to bring in a Ganesha idol to celebrate “Ganesha Chaturthi” at their home and receive Lord Ganesha’s blessings. The boy is excited and a young Ganesha does come to him as a friend. Together in the 11 days of the Ganesha Chaturthi, they both have many adventures and a lot of fun too. Ganesha also helps him solve the family crisis. In the end, everyone in the family turns out to be devout Ganesha followers believing that god is always there to help.
This is a film where real actors have interacted with animated characters including a young Ganesha, which is why it is even more exciting for the target audience. The movie strikes a chord and also entertains, which was the original purpose of such a plot and choice of characters.
The popularity and success of this subject have led to the creation of a second and third instalment of films –“My Friend Ganesha 2”, and “My Friend Ganesha 3”. These films have songs too as is the norm of most Bollywood films. The song “O My Friend Ganesha” from this film is quite popular with the young audience.
Thus the imagination of the filmmaker has created a young Ganesha who is fun along with being an effective god. Apart from just the popularity of these Ganesha animation films there are dedicated blogs on the various social networking sites on the internet, fan following and also there are numerous sites that provide Ganesha wallpapers, ring tones etc. This trend clearly indicates that the current generation believes in the concept of Ganesha but is interpreting Ganesha in media and forms that are familiar to them. Thus the spirit of Ganesha is only growing and encompassing one and all!
My Friend Ganesha- the movie CD cover(Image source)
“My Friend Ganesha 2 -Movie”(Image source)
“My friend Ganesha 3” desktop wallpaper(Image source)
Ganesha in the entertainment industry
The presence of Ganesha can be clearly felt in the entertainment industry of India!
There are a number of films in Hindi and some South Indian languages in which there are instances where the actors are shown praying to Ganesha either to fulfil their wishes or to thank him for the boons received.
The Ganeshotsav or the 10 days of Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations too have been seen to play key roles in a few Bollywood films. There are songs choreographed around this event in the films. For example the song “Deva Shree Ganesha” in the 2012 version of the Hindi film “Agneepath”.
*”Ganesha Mahime” *
Ganesha Mahime – a Kannada (the language of the state of Karnataka in south India) feature film on Ganesha.
This was directed by Mr. Mani Murugan and was made in the year 1981, by Mamatha Movies.
Apart from exploring the benevolence of this beloved God in the film, there are many songs praising Ganesha in the movie like “Ganesha Ninna Mahime Apaara”, “Jaya Ganesha Jaya Ganesha”, “Paarvathi Deviya Mai Bevarininda”, which make it a classic and must watch the film for Ganesha devotees and followers.
* “Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev”
“Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev” is a mythological drama series based on the legends of the Hindu god Shiva, also known as Mahadev. This is being aired on the Indian television channel Life OK. The show narrates the most famous of Shiva’s legends, sourced from the Puranas and the works of the well-known mythologist Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, in an episodic fashion. Since Ganesha is Shiva’s son, there are many episodes which carry the stories of Ganesha too.
The roles are portrayed by real actors and this drama series has become very popular and has a huge fan following. This is also an example of entertainment that educates too!
Life OK Devon Ke Dev Mahadev Ganesha (Sadhil Kapoor) Photos(Image source)