Baby Bim has all the advantages of the little Indian, from the sari worn by his mother to his love of traditional lido sweets, but the popularity of this cartoon character has crossed the borders of India, attracting families from around the world seeking an alternative to the white superheroes. “Mighty Little Beam”, which launched in 2019, is now in its third season. It is the most popular series among young people on “Netflix”, with more than 27 million families watching it, according to the platform. This curious and strong baby has seen a hard labor from Hyderabad in southern India all the way to Hollywood.
It took several years for its author, Rajiv Chilaka, 46, to convince Western TVs of his superhero Indian hero. “I have been kicked out of every agency that knocked on the door,” he tells AFP. The officials, who were exposed to the “Little Bim” project, did not care about the idea of producing a work starring a nine-year-old child who lives in a village and has extraordinary abilities, thinking that this shirtless character and living in a “very bright and colorful” decor would not appeal to Western children. Rajeev Chilaka admits that this point of view did not convince him. “The children love colors and Disney produced” The Jungle Book “years ago, which is a complete movie about a boy in panties.” American studios regularly use the Indian animation industry to obtain low-cost content in English, but the industry has never been distinguished by its original productions.
And “Netflix” has come to turn the equation, as the American group aspires to enter the promising Indian entertainment market and is betting on a version of the cartoon with this famous hero in a baby costume. “We wanted, above all, a character that resonates with our Indian subscribers,” says Dominic Bazai, director of original animations at Netflix. The issue was not at all related to adding Western touches to the series, according to Bazai. Bim has a mark on his forehead (what is known in India as “bindi”) and lives in a village where all of its residents wear traditional dress. And he does tricks with his single mother. “Netflix” was confident that this talkless series would resonate with viewers outside India, as “there is no limit” to children’s curiosity, according to Bazai. But she wasn’t expecting this massive success for the young hero.
Bim jokes make the kids laugh. This series is an opening to a multicultural world for people who want to distance themselves from traditional programs with their white characters. Lisa-Michael Hook, who lives in New York and whose two sons, aged 2 and 4, watched the series, said she wanted to show her children that “the superhero does not need to be white.” “When I started working, I was fully aware that it was the first animation series from India to find a stage of this importance,” said Rajiv Chilaka. “The load was great because I was aware that this project might open doors for others.” The Green Gold Animation production studio has grown from 25 employees to around 1,200 in India, the United States, Singapore and the Philippines. “We can hardly believe what happened to us,” Chilaka admits. “This little boy turned my life upside down.”