A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Motu Patlu is an animated series that's inspired by a Hindi comic strip and originally aired in India before being subtitled in English, French, and Spanish. Viewing it with subtitles makes it a somewhat difficult watch for viewers in the United States, but it's a visually and comically appealing show that will draw fans anyway. The stories center on friends Motu and Patlu's absurd adventures together, from swapping physiques (Motu's short, rotund stature for Patlu's taller, slender one) to tag-team teaching a naughty sibling duo. There's a hefty amount of violence in the show, most of which is played for humor despite being fairly serious in real-world terms (beatdowns, a man flattened by a vehicle on the road, etc.). It's also worth noting that the characters take turns pulling pranks on each other and otherwise reveling in their friends' misfortune, which has iffy messages for kids. That said, the fact that the show is set in a (fictitious) town in India does expose viewers to some simple representations of customs in different places.
What's the story?
MOTU PATLU centers on the farcical misadventures of best friends Motu (voiced by Saurav Chakraborty) and Patlu (Chakraborty again) in and around their hometown of Furifuri Nagar. Each episode sees the friends stumbling into some ridiculous predicament -- often of their own making, and sometimes accompanied by their friends Dr. Jhatka (Chakraborty), Ghasitaram (Chakraborty), and Chingum (Chakraborty) -- and having to figure a way out of it. Occasionally they encounter the local thug and aspiring mafia boss, John (Omi Sharma), and his henchmen, Number 1 (Sankalp Rastogi) and Number 2 (Brian D. Costa), who try to exert their dominance over the community but usually fall victim to Motu and Patlu's knack for luck.
Is it any good?
Cultural discrepancies complicate English viewers' overall enjoyment of this series, but the fact that it's so different from the typical U.S. fare means it's intriguing, too. The protagonists are two balding (or, in Patlu's case, bald), seemingly unemployed adult men with copious amounts of time in which to immerse themselves in the ridiculous plots the show sets up for them. Bad guys are less threatening than they are laughable, although they do employ physical tactics to assert themselves and, in the case of John's goons, blindly follow orders.
Motu Patlu isn't a series that will impress upon kids much that's positive. Most of the characters use violence on some level to vent anger or to get their way, and pranks and jokes at the expense of one or more of them are common. More than the obvious physicality of their interactions, there's a pervasive theme of revenge that exists among the characters. When one person is wronged, he looks for a way to even the score rather than use gentler tactics like communication to reach a solution. It makes for some funny moments, but it also sends questionable messages about conflict resolution and interpersonal skills.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Motu and Patlu's relationship. Is their friendship reliable regardless of the circumstances? How do they show their commitment to their friendship? What, if any, character strengths do you recognize in Motu and/or Patlu?
Does it bother you that violence is so common in this show? Does it ever solve anything? What about in the real world? Are there times when violent tactics are justified? Who gets to decide that?
Kids: What kinds of adventures do you have with your friends? Where do they take place? Why are they fun?
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love animated fun
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