London, July 19 : It's just been a month since Kung Fu Panda opened in Chinese theatres, and the creators of the animated film are being sued for their apparently "insulting" depiction of China's national symbol.
Zhao Bandi, a Chinese performance artist who is popular for using panda images in his art, including clothes designs is suing Dreamworks and has called for a full apology from the Hollywood studio for its apparent slur on the panda.
The film based on a big, burly cartoon panda called Po-voiced by Jack Black, who is versed in the finer arts of kung fu - was launched at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Zhao, who carries a stuffed panda in public and whose art mainly focuses on issues related with the animal, is angry at the fact that Po's father is a duck in the film. He thinks that this is offensive characterisation, which in turn means an insult to the Chinese. The other reason of him fuming is that the panda has green eyes, which according to him corresponds to evil colour.
"Designing the panda with green eyes is a conspiracy. A panda with green eyes has the feeling of evil. I have studied oil painting, and we would never use green eyes to describe a kind-hearted figure. So I ask them to open their creative meeting records of this film and explain why the green eyes? Next, why is the panda's father is a duck? Many foreigners think the giant panda is not just China's symbol, but also the Chinese people's symbol. Drawing the father of the giant panda as a duck is an insult to the Chinese people. In a few years' time, I'm worried some young Chinese people will think their ancestor is Donald Duck," The Independent quoted him, as saying.
It was just a month back that Zhao asked for the film to be banned as he feared it would upset victims of the Sichuan earthquake. This led the state broadcasting and entertainment regulator to delay the film's release in the Sichuan earthquake zone.
However, Zhao said that he was not thinking of getting any financial remuneration, but he merely wanted an apology from the film-makers.
In his blog, he said that the Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court's decision to go ahead with the case is proof enough that it wsn't just a publicity stunt on his part.
"The film Kung Fu Panda steals China's national treasure, the panda, and kung fu," Zhao told VarietyAsiaOnline.com.