As the animation series completes 10 years, the head of Hindi Mass Entertainment & Kids TV Network, Viacom18, sheds light on its role in cementing the channel's leading position in the genre.
In an interview with afaqs!, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, head, Hindi Mass Entertainment & Kids TV Network, Viacom18, talks about how the show not only helped the channel cement its leadership position in the kids' genre for eight consecutive years, but also changed the Indian animation world.
"The show pioneered this whole space of Indian stories that have relatable Indian families, diet, school, curriculum and festivals. The impact was not limited to the category, but also gave a huge impetus to the Indian animation world. It opened doors for Indian IPs to tell stories in different genres with different characters that were sensitised to India, and are now going global."
The series, produced by Cosmos Maya, was inspired by the characters from a comic strip in the kids' magazine Lotpot Comics. The journey began in 2011, when the channel realised a gap for domestic Indian content in the kids' genre. At the time Nick India was at the fifth position in the pecking order.
A lot went into taking these two adults from the print form into the children's lives.
"We laboured over this decision for too long. It was a risky option to make two adults the protagonists of a kids' show. We were wondering how we would do the show, how would we recreate the stories and reinvent these characters. They had been in the comics for many decades. We decided to take up the challenge and do something different," Jaipuria says.
Motu Patlu was initially set in a fictional town called Furfuri Nagar, the heartland of India. Over the years the show was contemporised and the characters moved into 'Modern City'. In the next stage, the twosome went globetrotting to Europe, visiting Switzerland, Eiffel Tower and London Eye. Recently, they also set out on a Bharat Darshan, visiting Taj Mahal in Agra and the backwaters in Kerala.
"The show quickly climbed to the top of the category and continues to be in the top five, week after week. It also got us to the number one position, and we have maintained it for eight years consecutively. The characters have also evolved from being toons to icons and now into best friends, role models and superheroes for the children," she adds.
For the show's fans this is a parallel universe they dwell in. Everything about the show has special significance, whether it is Motu's favourite snack Samosa or their comical dance moves.
Today, the series extends across OTT, consumer products and games. It has over 1,000 stories, 560 episodes, 25 movies and 20-plus games across iOS and Android. The show contributes to over 45% of the channel's total ratings.
"Because of its popularity, ‘Motu Patlu’, in a way, started representing Nick. It still drives preference for the channel," adds Jaipuria.
In the real world also, the characters have come a long way since its adoption from the classic comic strip. It reaches out to over 289 million viewers in seven languages.
Today, they also have their statues at Madame Tussauds in Delhi, the first-ever Indian animated character duo to make it to the prestigious museum. In 2018, Google Trends declared ‘Motu Patlu’ as the most searched Indian TV show in the world.
The show's viewers are not limited to its core audience of 0-14 year olds. Co-viewers, which includes parents and grandparents, form 65% of its viewership. Its immense popularity has paved the way for brands across categories to collaborate with it.
Several advertisers, including Colgate, Casio, Parle Products, Pratap Snacks, Perfetti Van Melle, ITC and Dabur, have integrated through product licensing, brand films and in-content product placements.
Does a show as popular as ‘Motu Patlu’ tend to overshadow the other IPs of the channel? Jaipuria says, it doesn't.
"Over the last 10 years, Nick has launched 11 IPs and they are equally popular. There is really no cannibalisation. Each show is in a different genre. We have chosen wide spaces and, therefore, the characters in each show are different.”