Swaroop is a third cartoon I did, this time centering around a modern East Indian boy living in New Jersey with his traditional family. It aired on Cartoon Network as part of it’s revamped short program now called “Cartoon-Cartoon”.
This time Warner Bros and Cartoon Network decided to have a joint venture and they teamed me up with an amazing writer named Atul Rao and we became fast friends as we plodded along trying to make the first cartoon that starred an East Indian in the US.
The story is thus: Swaroop rescues a “sacred” cow from his beef-eating neighbor, Steve, who won the animal in a poker game. Hiding at home with Swaroop’s family, the cow becomes a sacred nuisance taking advantage of their hospitality. In an effort to get rid of this unwanted houseguest, Swaroop ultimately dresses the cow like a rich lady and puts her on a cruise ship to India where the animal will be both safe and far away.
Atul and I tried to make Swaroop a “Bugs Bunny” type of guy. He liked to mess with people and cause trouble but with that sweet angelic grin on his face. Whether it was selling his grandmother’s sacred pinata to the local kids for batting practice or by smuggling a cow dressed in drag,
Swaroop was always knee deep in fun. His brother Baljit was a Hipster wanna-be and would say things like “Vhat are you happening bromo?” He was sort of a predecessor to Ali G in a way. Agee (which means grandma in Hindi ) ruled the roost and the father Bahrat was always willing to let her tell them all what to do as he was to busy checking to see if his belly was “maturing splendidly”. The mother Neela tires to make the cow feel at home by making alfalfa vindaloo but the cow gets wise and begins to rule the roost. She even takes over Swaroop’s bed causing his saying that she would be “sleeping on a bun with a cheese blanket if it were not for him”.
At the end of the summer in 2000 Cartoon Network held a contest to see which cartoon kids would like the most and kids could vote online for their favorite cartoon. The winner got a series. Swaroop came in third out of 12 cartoons. Not bad but not good enough either. The winner was Kids Next Door which is still airing on Cartoon Network as we speak. Sigh…
All in all it’s a pretty funny cartoon and we got great press from the Indian community in case you’re thinking it’s offensive. Sadly, Swaroop came to a sudden end when the whole problem with Pakastan started after 9/11 and Cartoon Network dropped the development on it. Feel free to tell them they should revisit it!
For this film I storyboarded, directed, and designed it. As a side note, Atul voiced Swaroop as well as a few incidental characters.