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Shortage of Superheroes

Friday, August 26, 2016

This week’s release ‘A Flying Jatt’ is about a superhero, one of the very few created by Hindi cinema, as compared to Hollywood, where the Marvel Comics universe is full of superheroes and heroines. Maybe because in America, there has been a profusion of very imaginative comics, that are now paying rich dividends as grist for the blockbuster mill.  In India, we grew up on Amar Chitra Katha, that had a lot of magic and fantasy, but no masked-caped crusaders.

We have had a successful superhero in Krrish (a Hollywood rip-off). But does anyone remember Drona, starring Abhishek Bachchan?  When it was released in 2010, the review has remarked, “If a film with a title like Drona turns out to be bad, it leaves itself open to endless puns on the name.  This Goldie Behl film will have a hard time living down its monumental and expensive stupidity.”

“The idea of creating an indigenous superhero was fine, but then think of an original and distinctly Indian ethos.  Behl’s film is an unholy mix of The Lord of The Rings, Amar Chitra Katha, The Matrix, Star Wars, Grimm’s Fairytales,  Chinese martial arts, and Hollywood adventure franchises like The Mummyand Indiana Jones series.  And don’t miss the under-the-wheels Stagecoach tribute.”

 “On top of it all, Drona is a styling disaster—a superhero in last year’s dandiya costume with a dupatta round his neck for god’s sake, a heroine in leather and brocade— both in costumes with bits that flap and fly, most unsuitable for fighting.  The pouting-preening villain couldn’t scare a cockroach with that hair-standing-on-end look. Creatures from a mythical village that looks like a tent for a Gurjari exhibition, wear blue eye-shadow and the queen of some ancient palace wears red lipstick.”

“The period seems to be the present, judging by the opening in Prague, but when the action shifts to India, it’s curiously medieval—royal families, horses, swords sorcerers, acres of unpopulated desert with the sea nearby and a train chugging along all by itself. Why can’t India have cars, jets, guns and light sabers?

Really, at the end, there is a mile-high pile of absurdity, with fairly nifty special effects, but nothing spectacularly new.  Behl even cancels out the kiddie audience (that Krissh attracted in droves) by making it slow as a snail, with wailing music.”

Before this, there was Ajooba (1991), with Amitabh Bachchan playing a kind superhero… but let’s not even go there!

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