When I was little, my after school staple was cartoons. Before my mother could yell at us to do our homework, we’d blissfully escape into the folds of Thundercats or Transformers. We’d beg for “just ten more minutes” of Duck Tales or The Smurfs. We were kids of the ’80s and ’90s, who were lucky enough to have families that could afford satellite television in Pakistan and VHS tapes of Western cartoon serials.
But looking back on my childhood, I wish we had more options that celebrated our own culture and heritage, that taught morals and values from a nuanced and indigenous perspective, that gave us our own heroes to look up to. (No offense to Lion O, though. He was pretty awesome. Thundercats HO.)
The new Chotta Jatt animated series promises to be all that and more. The cartoon draws inspiration from a line of Lollywood films from the 1970s (i.e., Waishy Jatt, Shera Jatt, and the most iconic one – Maula Jatt). According to Creator Daniyal Noorani (who wrote & produced the song “Find Heaven”), “The character “Chota Jatt” uses his strength to fight for justice and to battle against corruption, feudalism, and extremism. The series will be high octane, action packed and hilarious.” He added to me, “The hope is that this show can be used as a vector to instill solid values such as equality, perserverance, and standing up against injustice,” ultimately universal values expressed through a Pakistani lens.
The series just completed a trailer to generate buzz about Chota Jatt, and Noorani is now looking for distribution on a Pakistani channel, noting that they will soon be releasing a three-minute “webisode.” The Chota Jatt team includes Marria Khan and Ryan for Character Design, Abdullah Saeed for music, Zahid Gill for animation and Shahjehan Khan for narration.
When I asked Noorani what he hopes children take away from this animated series, he answered, “A character whom they can relate to and to whom they can turn to for moral guidance. You know how kids go, What would Superman do in such a situation? I hope that kids can someday say, What would Chota Jatt do in such a situation?“