Disney Exports American Superhero Fantasies to Bollywood with Zokkomon


It’s not such a small world, after all. A kid’s movie dictated with second-language stiltedness, Zokkomon is the latest chapter in the ongoing effort of the Walt Disney Company to master its Hindi phrasebook and win hearts and minds in the Subcontinental market. The first live-action Disney-Bollywood product, Zokkomon imports a progressive, science-fetishizing youth-empowerment superhero fantasy—as perfected in American comic books—to a nation already rich in indigenous pop mythologies. (Zokkomon also carries a relatively compacted Western runtime of 109 minutes.) Toothsome adolescent Darsheel Safary stars as Kunal, an orphan lorded over by a wicked schoolmaster uncle (Anupam Kher) who schemes after his charge’s inheritance. In a double role, Kher also plays the hermit “Magic Uncle” who equips woebegone Kunal so that the boy can become a tween masked crusader, while Manjari Fadnis’s street artist provides a mother substitute and further believe-in-yourself platitudes. The songs are by Shankar Ehsaan Loy: “Eena Meena Maina Mo” is the certifiable banger, while “Suno Brother” revisits the worst of mid-’90s “alternative” radio. The CGI effects are a marginal advance upon the usual Bollywood fare—though “advance” really isn’t the appropriate word for anything here.