In a movie theatre, amidst claps and cheers, emotions are running high. It’s the auditions scene for the Rap Battleground in the movie Gully Boy. The rappers are trying to insult each other to win. Suddenly one rapper tells another, “Tu Chhota Bheem nahi Chutki hai,” and the crowd erupts into loud laughter and cheering.
Another day, my 7-year-old son is playing with my friend’s 11-year-old daughter. They decide to play Superhero. My son plays Chhota Bheem and the girl is Chutki.
He is strong, powerful and mighty and shows his muscles. She wears two plaits, puts on some pink blush, starts cleaning the table and keeps laddoos for him.
I was shocked.
The gender stereotyping of Chutki in the children’s TV show Chhota Bheem is having a huge impact on young minds.
I asked a few people, mostly parents, what they thought about the character of Chutki and they all said the same thing - Chutki needed to become a better role model for the thousands of children watching the show.
Sign my petition asking the Producers and Creative Directors of Chhota Bheem to not only strengthen the character of Chutki but also to produce a parallel show with Chutki as the lead character.
Chhota Bheem has over 40 million viewers in India and most of them are in the age group of 3-9 years. Chhota Bheem also has the highest reach and influence in Tier 3 cities and rural areas. It’s a household name in India and almost every kid identifies and learns from it.
Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia about Chutki’s character:
“While she is responsible about her household chores and gentle towards all people and other creatures, she can be tough too, when the situation demands it.”; “She has a soft spot for Bheem and often becomes angry whenever Bheem interacts with any girl, therefore, she has a crush on Bheem and considering herself as his girl-friend and future wife and her mother as his mother-in-law”; “She takes care of Bheem and likes to give him laddoos stolen from her mother”.
Her mother is constantly telling her to not go running around and climbing trees with the boys. Is this what we want our girls to model?
Green Gold Animation has produced a number of shows and movies and those have been influencers with kids. There is Chhota Bheem, Super Bheem, Mighty Raju, Arjun Prince of Bali, Six Cylinder Samurai, Krishna the Great, Chorr Police and Luv Kush. Not a single one of these shows has a lead character who is a girl or a woman.
Chota Bheem is now Super Bheem and one of his teammates Raju is ‘Mighty Raju’. It’s time for ‘Tough Chutki’.
While Chutki may be a fictional character, she represents the conditioning that girls and boys across India grow up with. Millions of Indian women have grown up to behave like Chutki, remaining passive and submissive, expected to toe the line while boys grow up to be the dominant, decision-making Bheems.
Sign my petition to create more Girl SHERoes who can teach my son and all our children the right set of values.