Movie franchises like the Avengers and superhero cinematic universes like those of Marvel and DC are loved by people across the world. They have built dedicated fan bases for themselves over years. The backstories of all superheroes and how they save the world from predators while the signature music plays in background accompanied with brilliant visuals and graphics make for a cinema that takes you to another world altogether.
However, it’s sad that Indian cinema has significantly lacked the superhero genre. Part of the problem is that the Indian creators for, some reason, resolve to the masala Bollywood trope, even with this genre.
Though the dance, the music, and larger than life screen presence are Bollywood staples, and the right amount of cheese is required for superhero movies, it is very important to use these staples in the right proportions.
India, with a population of over 1.3 billion and with one of the most thriving film industries, has still not produced a superhero which reaches to the scale of brilliance of the likes of Ironman or Batman. In the name of a superhero, we have ‘Krrish’, an aspirational project and well-received at the box office but it couldn’t sustain the enthusiasm.
We also had ‘Drona’, a movie that was easily forgotten. It was again an aspirational venture but wasn’t well-thought through. It became a long-lasting scorn for individuals engaged with the film. Even Priyanka Chopra couldn’t save the movie.
In 1987, ‘Superman’, which was supposed to be an Indian version of the popular superhero flick, failed miserably. Several other attempts have been made over the years, which have figured out how to terrifically let the crowds' expectations down for a hero story they can get behind. Even the big names in Bollywood can’t save the sinking ship of superhero movies sans a good script, screenplay, and visuals to fall back on.
Perhaps, Shekhar Kapur's 'Mr. India' is still loved by the people. Performances of Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri made this movie truly special. The film’s success is because of its comic timing, iconic villain and a strong lead. After 'Shahenshah' released in 1988, the film starred the legendary Amitabh Bachchan who gave us the famous dialogue “Rishtey mein hum tumhare baap lagte hain.. naam hai Shahenshah”. It is one of the few superhero films that stayed with the audiences.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to the superhero genre and in such a diverse country with so many brilliant artists, there is no dearth of ideas. The courage to deep dive into making a masterpiece is all it will take and here’s to all of us hoping to see an Indian superhero loved by everyone on the big screen.