The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Toonhead’s crazed cop & cur in cartoon chase

Calcutta, Sept. 19: Madloo and Chhottu: A mad man with “unshaped beard and hair” who thinks he is a traffic policeman and his yellow dog that thinks he is a traffic dog.

They may be the “next big toons” on TV. And behind them both is a 12-year-old “toonhead” from Calcutta.

Abhishek Datta, a Class VII student of Julien Day School, is just one step away from seeing his original cartoon character get airtime on Cartoon Network. He is one of the five finalists in the channel’s Next Big Toon promotion, which saw 2,30,000 kids from across the country send in their creations.

It is the burger-loving Madloo, who lives in a junkyard, along with an oversized talking lightbulb called Bulby, a sharpener-hating magic pencil named Leo, a genius computer Compman and an adorable termite, Terminite, who have shone through the flood of entries. Three of the other finalists are from Mumbai, which sent in the largest number of entries, while the fifth is from Secunderabad.

Abhishek had real-life inspiration for his crazed but loveable brainchild. “I saw a man in Bhutan who seemed mad and he was in the middle of the road directing traffic,” says the boy who will soon be seen on Cartoon Network in promotional spots that reveal more about him, his friends and his character.

The artist has a deep and rather dark explanation for Madloo’s madness. “He is a very nice man, but when he doesn’t get to eat for days, he goes mad. But it is his madness that makes him happy,” explains Abhishek.

The perfectly-executed watercolour went through many rounds of screening — first local and then national. Only 100 entries went through to the five judges — Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowarikar, ad icon Piyush Pandey, animation producer Ram Mohan and Cartoon Network representatives Ian Diamond and Anshuman Misra. The final five will now be sent to the creators of Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Cartoon Network’s creative consultants. The winning entry will be developed and made into a cartoon by the channel.

Abhishek, an enthusiastic award-winning Scout, had no idea the contest would attract such a huge number of contestants. “If I had known how many entries would be sent, I would not have participated!” exclaims the shy boy who has won a computer for getting this far.

If god grants Madloo a wish, he would “like to see green return to the world and then become the head of the police department”. If Abhishek’s wish comes true, he will become a surgeon and continue his art on the sidelines. But if Madloo makes his way to fame, who knows… The young man’s plans may just change.

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