Dashamoolam reloaded

TNIE catches up with animator Nideep Varghese, the brain behind the latest Malayali superhero in town

author_img Arya UR Published :  22nd September 2022 08:41 AM   |   Published :   |  22nd September 2022 08:41 AM
Dashamoolam Damu

Dashamoolam Damu

Dashamoolam Damu, the sidekick to Mammootty’s character in Chattambinadu was a laugh riot. Played by national award winner Suraj Venjaramoodu, the character is still a favourite. It still fuels the meme factory.

Imagine Damu getting super powers and safeguarding the world from evil. Yes, Canada-based Malayali animator Nideep Varghese has given the fictional character a superhero makeover as ‘Dashamoolam Man’. The short animation video made in the 2D animation style has been trending ever since the 40-year-old animator posted it on his Instagram page recently. The one-minute-25-second video showcases Damu saving two children from a monster. He gets attacked at first by the monster, but soon gains his superpowers after taking a swig of Dashamoolarishtam, an Ayurvedic tonic.

Nideep, who hails from Pathanamthitta, has creatively infused Damu’s film dialogues with the animation scenes, which go well with the plot. Ever since Basil Joseph’s Minnal Murali hit the screens, Malayalam superheroes have been a fad. In fact, Dashamoolam Damu was inspired by the film, says Nideep, who has been in animation for more than 10 years.


“Being an animator from Kerala and working for an international animation group, I always wanted to come up with a signature animation project in Malayalam,” says Nideep, Nideep, who was part of the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse team, which won ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ at the 76th Golden Globe Awards and the 91st Academy Awards.

“Animation always has fans of every age group. The popularity of my friend Aju Mohan’s animated series, The Gebonions, and the screening of animation films in IDSFFK revealed the public interest in the genre. Dashamoolam Man was created for the Malayali audience. However, it has universal appeal and comes with English subtitles.” But, why Damu? Nideep says it is because of the popularity of Damu’s dialogues, and their reach among Keralites.

Damu, however, was not his first superhero, adds Nideep. “I created Bheeshma first. But it was a serious web animation series and did not have much reach,” he says. “As I love the comedy genre personally, I planned for a comic superhero. I love the Marvel series, and the plots happening in another universe. They motivated me to weave my superhero animation series. For the project, I conducted an Insta public poll featuring Srank Man (Salim Kumar’s character from the film, Mayavi), Khadgam Man (related to Jagathi Sreekumar’s character, Sardar Krishna Kurup), and Damu. The popularity for Damu made me come up with a story for him first.”

Nideep found his niche in comedy animation as his clip on Arabic Kuthu song picturing iconic movie characters Dasan and Vijayan became a hit. There will be a second part soon, he says.  The animation creator and curator says his storyboard and characters are digitally done using the mobile phone. “Apart from Minnal Murali, childhood inspirations like Dinkan, Shikari Shambu and even Popeye helped me curate the animation series. The idea and plot take time and it is a challenge,” he says.

“It took me one month to create the one-minute-long clip (Damu) and it will have a second part soon. The responses are welcoming and it’s a project that can be continued like the Mr Bean series, for instance. Even if I am the creator, I welcome other interested animators if they want to contribute to or give new storylines.” Nideep, who focuses on stylised drawings and exaggerating facial features, says his “dream” is to “develop the animation sector in Kerala”. “I want it to churn out more animation worwks with a global appeal,” he says. 

Instagram @nideep.varghese