Not only Superheroes but there is a long list of films based on/inspired by graphic novels and miniseries too, whether its LXG or V for Vendetta,
Now this makes me think of our Desi Superhero Films and before I get into this topic.. I would like to start with a disclaimer.
DISCLAIMER: To call Mithun and Rajni Superheroes will not only be insulting and underestimating them but also over-overestimating the Superhero Genre. So no matter what, we have to keep these gravity defying, bulletproof (infact everything proof) heroes of all time, away from this topic.
We the people of India have a legacy of Superhero films, like our own version of Superman (played by Puneet Issar) in which Sups accidentally kills his foster father (played by Ashok Kumar) by hugging him too tightly or Shiva (played by Jaggu Dada) in 3D Superhero Flick Shiva Ka Insaaf, in which Shiva’s parents are killed by the goons and their child Bhola, who is the only witness, grows up to become Shiva the superhero and avenges the murder of his parents (it is still unknown if Bhola/Shiva and his parents went to see The Mark Of Zorro or, if they went for the same show
Rather getting more into the plots and subplots of these cult classic superhero films (they deserve a separate post) I’ll come back to the topic – Superheroes in Indian Cinema. Indian Filmmakers have an entirely different approach to this genre. They make a Superhero Film/series first; wait for it to become a hit, and once its successful they come up with poorly written-badly illustrated comics inspired by the movie/series. I have seen them doing this with Shaktimaan (which in my knowledge, is the only Superhero Comic book which was published by two different publishers at the same time), Captain Vyom and Krrish etc.
(Chacha Chaudhary remains the only exception, but the TV Series based on cartoonist Pran’s highly popular comic character wasn’t one tenth as successful as the comic book series).
Indian Film/TV Industry’s understanding of Superheroes and comic books has always remained questionable. I am still trying to figure out, how can somebody come up with an appalling idea of creating comics on shows like The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.
(Ahem…Excuse me for deviating again from the topic and let’s come back to Desi Superheroes again.)
Though Krrish was publicized as first Indian Superhero, I think we’ve had many superheroes PK (Pre-Krrish) like Mr.
One of the most unforgettable Superheroes on Hindi Film Screen was invisible Mr.India (Salim - Javed wrote Mr.India keeping AB in mind who refused to act in a film where his fans can’t see him. Javed changed the protagonist’s name from Vijay to Arun and rest as they say is history).
Late 80s was the era when anybody who could make a film, was toying with the idea of making a Superhero Film with Amitabh Bachchan. Sadly
the outcome of this Me-Too wave resulted in some really unremarkable Superhero Films like Toofan and Ajooba (an Indo-Russian Co-production). The only film to enjoy little success was Shahenshah where AB played a Vigilante Superhero. (AB was supposed to play another vigilante superhero Rudra, who in a way, was a combo of Shehenshah and Toofan, in S.Ramanathan's shelved film Rudra.)
Talking of Superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Superheroes played by him, reminds me of SUPREMO (a comic book superhero published by Star Comics). It is still undecided if Supremo was inspired by Amitabh or it was publisher’s idea to encash the great fan following AB has/had amongst children.
‘SUPREMO – The Adventures Of Amitabh Bachcan’(for those of you who haven’t read it) had BigB playing Superstar Amitabh Bachchan who dons a mask and becomes superhero Supremo to fight bad guys. AB personally endorsed the series (there used to be this personal letter from BigB himself pleading kids to keep his ‘superhero identity’ secret). It was a mildly successful comic book superhero series, which after an initial success, proved not even Superstar Amitabh can save badly written stuff. Star Comics went out of business and Supremo died a silent death.
Coming back to today’s scene i.e. PK (Post Krrish) we again have a new bunch of Superheroes. From Abhay Deol and SRK’s spoofy Superhero acts in Honeymoon Travels and OSO respectively to forthcoming superheroes Drona (Abhishek) and Toonpur Ka Superhero (Ajay Devgan). But the question remains unanswered- Does Bollywood really understands this genre, or this is another Me-Too wave of people who want to encash on one and only successful Superhero Roshans have created?
Another problem with Indian Superhero genre, I think is the way Indian Audience look at it. They need to be liberated and enlightened to understand that A Superhero Film doesn’t always mean it’s a Kiddie Film. I feel sorry for all those poor little kids, who accompanied their dumb parents to PG-13 rated - The Dark Knight and Hancock (I am serious; they brought their kids along just because these were Superhero Films). Grow up parents!!!
No blog on Indian Superheroes can end without having this video...so here it is: Kimi Katkar & Chichi celebrating the Ultimate Marvel-DC Crossover.