Lion is party animal in Indian 'Sesame Street'

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The Independent Online

India is to get its own version of the children's programme, Sesame Street, complete with a giant psychedelic lion who is supposed to be descended from maharajahs and who loves bhangra music. The television show, which will be launched this summer, has been adapted for Indian children.The main action will take place in a galli - one of the narrow side streets that are choked with cycle-rickshaws, cows and market stalls.

The Indian version, named Galli Galli Sim Sim, will be centre on a corner store rather than a bakery, as in the American show. Elmo and Big Bird are expected to make an appearance. But they will be joined by four puppets created for Indian audiences, the most exotic of which is Bhoombah, a lion with red, blue and purple fur, who is supposed to hail from the royal family of Bhoombagarh. There may be a slight satirical note in the fact that Bhoombah is something of a party animal - the scions of several of India's old royal families have a reputation for enjoying the party life.

The central character will be Chamki, a puppet of a five-year-old girl dressed in the uniform of a government school. Her best friend is Googly - named, of course, after the cricket delivery. And there is Aanchoo, a storyteller who is transported to another place when she sneezes.

The producers say the cast will represent the range of India's different ethnic and regional peoples. So the owner of the corner store, played by a human actor, will speak several Indian languages, while his wife comes from the north-east, where you are more likely to find noodles than chicken tikka.