Indian Superhero Films can be counted on fingers. Given the number of Films released every year, a majority of them only deal with Love and Marriages or the new found obsession with Biopics which Bollywood is marinating in.
The earlier superheroes born in India and that convinced people of this genre started with Mr.India, later continued by Shaktimaan; taking Indian Telivision by a storm. Some other less known heroes were Karma, or can I also count Shehensha by the legendary Amitabh Bachchan? : P
The early 2000s gave rise to the Roshan Family's pet projects. Koi Mil Gaya wasn't a superhero film, rather it was a copied concept, but it was very well executed and in that story, nobody knew, were lying the seeds of Krish. Honestly, Krish was more original than Koi Mil Gaya and that was the time when Hritik Roshan was ruling the screens ( major courtesy : Dhoom 2 ). Krish captured the imagination of young kids of that time and put a benchmark for this genre in India.
Immediately after that, Nolan taught the world what Cinema, and Superhero can be. The Batman series broke all the rules, formed new ones and completely redefined the imagination. Hollywood viewership grew at a massive rate in India, and since then be it DC or Marvel, India serves as a prominent destination for their release.
The other big Superhero Film after Krish was SRK's dream project Ra.One. Since it was produced by the actor himself, he tried to put anything and everything in that one Film. I am also sceptical as to why he chose Anubhav Sinha to direct the Film. His earlier Film was Tum Bin and I clearly have no knowledge of him directing a good film at that time ( he recently broke the exception with Mulk ). There were video games released, promotions at full throttle, but still the Film sank. The reason I think it did, is because Superhero in an Indian landscape after the Batman franchise had become a tough task for the portrayal. This genre demands great VFX. That too if managed, further demands the authenticity. The vigilante concept was done to death till then. How then, we give rise to a Superhero, how do we show the need of one?
Sorry to arrive late, but here enters Vikramaditya Motwane. He starts his film with the infamous anti corruption movement of Anna Hazare, and very quickly moves forward with the death of it. The story starts with three friends ( clichéd three ), one being a total romanticists crusader of anti corruption feeling. The other two being realists. Good; contrast achieved in the story. But is contrast enough for conflict? In this case the conflict was less convincing for me personally, but the only one who could dare to even try and pull this off is only and only Motwane. And hands down I have become a huge fan of him. Just look at his Filmography: Udaan, Lootera, Trapped and now 'The' Sacred Games.
But coming back to the Film, one thing that pissed me off was one particular scene where he takes us into flashback to justify the position of the character (the place he starts living in). Flashbacks have been used for that purpose only but that is a poor form of screenplay. The intelligent use of flashback happens when the maker shows the audience what they missed to notice, which was important for the story, which was also meant to be missed at first viewing. That creates suspense and the gravity towards the story. The Justification - Flashback just spoonfeeds the audience, taking them as dumb. But that was just one scene, and I shouldn't be so harsh. But I want to. Because I want Motwane to make masterpieces.
Meanwhile the casting was almost perfect, the best choice being Harshvardhan, a new unexplored face. We are so used to seeing a 50 year old Khan making us belive forcefully that they are in their 20s. The supporting actors were also superbly placed, the best being Ashish Verma, but I fear for him being typcasted as he played a similar character in TVF inmates. Coming to the music, I don't know why Amit Trivedi's music is becoming so pale. I don't know where the magic has gone and I feel so sad about it. Plus I want to scream and ask Motwane, were the songs necessary? Imagine Batman Begins having a song and Christian Bale dancing to beats like " Tere Chumme Mein Chawanprash Hai ". WTF! There were no songs in Trapped and I think Bhavesh Joshi also didn't needed those.
Meanwhile, Nishikant Kamat simply failed. One famous concept which Nolan professed further though his films was making the antagonist powerful. But here, even if he was, it didn't appear on screen. It is hard to believe that he couldn't have got a better villain for his Film. Here his casting failed.
One underdog of the film is the cinematographer Siddharth Diwan. His treatment of every shot was marvelous, so were the colors he provided.
To conclude, superhero genre will always be difficult to make in India because the standards have been set by the west. Kudos for the attempt. Something really convincing is needed to plant the plot in the Indian landscape. That was one reason why the whole story of Dhoom 3 was set in Chicago. The city provides the landscape for the required visuals. Though Dhoom 3 wasn't a superhero movie but I think the makers thought it was one : p
All the best to Ayan Mukherjee now for Bhramhastra, but I seriously don't have any hopes from Dharma. It can't match what Phantom does.
Bhavesh Joshi, ek bar dekhne layak to hai yaar : ).
Review by ishantrajpurohit from the Internet Movie Database.