The newest cartoon on Disney Junior, “Mira, Royal Detective” – an Indian girl, has all the hallmarks one would expect from a children’s show — a smart, resourceful lead character, entertaining sidekicks, and a bright, colorful animated environment, filled with song and dance.
Debuting both in the United States and India, the cartoon incorporates the cultures of India and centers around Mira, a young girl who is named by the queen of fictional Jalpur as, yes, you guessed it, the royal detective. She’s got friends and relatives who help her solve her cases, along with two chatty mongooses (the sidekicks.)
The actors voicing the recurring and guest characters include a who’s who of South Asian talent, like Kal Penn, Freida Pinto, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Jameela Jamil. The voice of Mira belongs to 16-year-old Leela Ladnier in her first professional role.
From the start, the intent was to make the show as true to its Indian inspiration as possible, said Sascha Paladino, the executive producer, whose resume includes working as a writer on another cartoon show that made a big impact, “Doc McStuffins.” That cartoon follows an African American girl who dreams of being a doctor while using her toys as patients.
That means writers, designers, musicians, a cultural consultant and even seeking the input of the people working in the animation studio in India that did some work on the project.
That authenticity is both for Indian and South Asian kids and their families, to see their lives and cultures reflected, and for those who aren’t South Asian, to see a new and interesting culture that hopefully they’ll want to explore.