Hindi cinema and superheroes have a turbulent history. From Mr India (1987), in which Anil Kapoor plays a character who uses an invisibility cloak to fight the arch-villain Mogambo, and Toofan (1989), in which Amitabh Bachchan plays twin brothers, a magician and the other cape, Crime Vigilante, Bollywood attempted to create a local superhero to match iconic Western figures such as Superman, Spiderman, Batman and the pantheon of the Marvel Multiverse.
There was Shah Rukh Khan in Ra.One (2011), Abhishek Bachchan in Drona (2008), Tiger Shroff in A Flying Jatt (2016) and Harshvardhan Kapoor in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (2018), coming and going without much noise. . .
The biggest success to date has been Hrithik Roshan in the Krrish franchise – three films, with the character only appearing in two of them, but a fourth film is currently in the works.
Granted, a Bollywood superhero is a difficult proposition. On the one hand, he is expected to outperform all the leading men in Hindi cinema, a tough demand given that they are traditionally superheroes without a cape – handsome, morally upright, strong enough to take down the dastardly villains without a cape. sweat.
The Bollywood superhero must fulfill other requirements as well. He can’t be too determined in his mission to save the world, because at some point he or his alter-ego will have to fall in love, start singing, grapple with family issues (ideally involving a mother).
Plus, it should do everything on a relatively small budget. The Hindi film industry does not have the ultra-deep pockets or VFX capabilities of its American counterpart. An example: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), two prequels of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which hit theaters this weekend, had budgets of $ 175 million. and $ 160 million respectively.
So how does India manage to solve this problem? Malayalam cinema could provide the answer with the next Minnal Murali. This is the story of a tailor named Jaison (played by a charming Tovino Thomas), who lives in Kurukkanmoola, a village in Kerala. Jaison has problems with his girlfriend, his family, the lack of opportunities (he aspires to emigrate to America because he somehow has the idea that tailors are in high demand there).
One day, Jaison is struck by lightning and develops superhuman strength. Eventually, of course, he has to don a costume, fight a villain and save the village, but the road to that end is strewn with great comedies, superbly orchestrated moments of realization – when he leaps from a tree, he’s collapses to the ground and wisely concludes that he can’t fly – and details that root the story in his midst (in one scene, a tiffin box rocks and Jaison, who now has lightning-fast reflexes, sends her back to his shelf).
Minnal Murali is a superhero movie that doesn’t try to sound world class or compete with the West. In fact, Jaison has never heard of Hollywood superheroes; his nephew must give him a crash course. Instead, director Basil Joseph and writers Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew go local, creating, as Basil said in an interview, “a superhero next door.”
Basil added that the superhero element in the film is “just the X factor”. “We haven’t made one for the genre. If you take out all the superhero elements, it’ll be a good movie the way it is.
This may also be the way forward for Bollywood. Jaison, clumsy, at times brash, at times petulant, and in some scenes even an amusing figure, is an incomparable and local man of steel. I can’t wait to see what he does next.