Delhi Safari (2012)

There are more than a few lessons woven into the plot of Delhi Safari, but at crisp 95 minutes, watching this film is a fun for young as well as adults equally, though the level of animation never achieves Pixar level.

A young leopard cub, Yuvi (Swini Khara), inspires a group of animals to head to the Capital to protest against the takedown of their wildlife reserve, after their leader, and his father, Sultan (Sunil Shetty), is killed by redevelopers constructing a residential complex in its place. Bajrangi the chimpanzee (Govinda), Bagga the bear (Boman Irani), and Yuvi’s protective mum Begum (Urmila Matondkar) enlist the help of a domesticated talking parrot, Alex (Akshaye Khanna), as they head Delhi-wards to get their plea heard. But it’s a bumpy journey ahead as Bajrangi and Alex repeatedly get into scuffles, and the group encounters all manner of obstacles along the way.

Featuring a gallery of well etched characters along with the snazzy voice work, especially by Govinda, Akshaye Khanna & Boman Irani, who infuse characters into their respective beasts, makes the makes the film more palatable. Govinda’s manic senapati monkey is the scene-stealer here with his Bhojpuri-laced dialogues, his devious plotting against Alex, and his interactions with his two cowardly sidekicks. Akshaye Khanna too, appears to be having fun with the part of Alex, who can’t understand why these animals would seek freedom and independence instead of enjoying the luxurious lifestyle of a kept pet. Boman Irani delivers plenty laughs as the posh bear who speaks in an Anglicized accent, and lands some of the film’s best one-liners.

The film’s best scene is an Indiana Jones-style set piece in which our protagonists are chased through a quarry by a swarm of angry bees who assume different shapes, like that shoal of fish in Finding Nemo. On the flip side, too many songs stretch the film’s narrative pointlessly, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score is okay. The animation itself is good, best amongst  many Indian animation features, but much bigger budgets may be required to achieve the texture and the detail one sees in films like Ratatouille and Madagascar.

Despite of its own quibbles, the film works on account of its charming characters and some hilarious dialogue. I’m going with three-and-half out of five for director Nikhil Advani’s Delhi Safari. Take your kids for this one, chances are both of you will come out smiling.