Adored by youngsters and abhorred by parents, Shin Chan had been riding high on popularity charts ever since he made his Indian debut in 2006.
However, repeated complaints lodged by parent bodies with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry led the latter to question the show’s content. Shin Chan consequently went off air and has been missing from TV screens for close to five weeks now.
The animated boy character’s impertinence — arguing with his mother and criticising her appearance — is what irks the elderly lot.
In Japanese popular culture, Shin Chan is a manga — a graphic novel intended for adults. The animated version is called anime, which is meant for older audiences, and is characterised by extensive violence and sexuality. The show is not meant for children. Despite this, Hungama channel continued to air the show.
While parents feel victorious after the show’s suspension, Chan’s younger fans feel let down. Abeer Sharma, 16, said, “The cartoon is about entertainment. Parents who have a problem with the show should prevent their children from watching it and not call for a ban.”
But Punita Ghosh, a parent, is predictably happy with Chan’s absence. “I’m glad the show is now off air. My son would copy whatever Chan did on the show,” she said.
Aditi Misra, another parent, had in fact locked Hungama TV immediately after she saw an episode of Shin Chan with her five-year-old son a year ago.
“We have asked the channel to delete certain characteristics of the protagonist, which could have adverse impact on children,” an I&B ministry official said.
The channel, on the other hand, seems to have launched a veiled campaign called Mission Ha Ha Hungama, endorsed by actor Darsheel Safary (of Tare Zameen Par fame). The campaign asks viewers to combat the ‘Anti-Laughter Squad’ (ALS) that has invaded Hungama TV.
“Shin Chan is not banned. There’s a query on the show from the ministry. The matter is under consideration of the ministry. We don’t have any comments at the moment,” said a Hungama TV spokesperson.
Vaishali Bhambri, a student of journalism at Lady Shri Ram College has decided to write her final year dissertation on the Shin Chan phenomenon.
“I saw that my eight-year-old brother had become rude and ill-mannered after watching the series. This upset my parents, as certain mannerisms of the character are unacceptable in our society,” she said.
(with inputs from Chetan Chauhan)