However, save for the Krrish series starring Hrithik Roshan and Mr. India with Anil Kapoor playing the invisible vigilante, Indian superheroes have largely been cringe-inducing embarrassments. Despite liberally stealing from Hollywood, our desi superhero films are let down by over-simplistic wafer-thin plots, a tendency to take everything too seriously, tacky VFX, boring unidimensional characterization, lack of originality etc. etc.
The upcoming Bhavesh Joshi Superhero sounds promising with its premise about an ordinary young man, who wants to challenge the wrong, and transforms into a superhero. Ayan Mukerji’s Ranbir-starrer Brahmastra, which releases August 15, 2019, also piques interest with its supernatural tale of valor. But no, we refuse to get too excited; Bollywood superheroes have a habit of letting audiences down badly! Here are the culprits…
Tiger Shroff - Flying Jatt
This atrociously directed film added Hollywood superhero clichés to stock Bollywood formula. The character had his fun moments – despite being a superhero he is scared of heights, and even goes to the local market to buy lauki for his mother. However, crude special effects, a ridiculous final battle, loads of plagiarism and a preachy message about saving the environment ensured it never took flight.
Abhishek Bachchan – Drona
This fantasy adventure superhero film was headlined by Abhishek Bachchan as the legendary warrior. The film incorporated Indian martial arts such as Kalaripayattu, Chhau, Gatka, and sword fighting. It was also filmed in Prague, Bikaner, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Namibia. Nothing worked. Made on a budget of Rs.45 crore, the film earned less than 15 crores at the box office.
Shah Rukh Khan - Ra.One
Named after its powerful antagonist Ra.One, the film showed Shah Rukh Khan in a double role as game designer Shekhar and the online character, G.One. After Shekhar is killed, the family is forced to bring out G.One from the virtual world to defeat Ra.One and protect them. Despite no expenses spared, the film received mixed reviews, with critics praising the visuals and music, but criticising the script and direction.
Dharmendra – Ghazab
Starring Dharmendra in a double role, Ajay is the naive young man who has a wealthy family estate but is cheated and killed by the baddies. His restless spirit finds his twin, Vijay and appeals to him to avenge his death. Vijay returns with Ajay to the place of his murder and sets out to wreak vengeance. The supernatural meets superhero film required considerable suspension of disbelief!
Jackie Shroff - Shiva Ka Insaaf
India’s first 3D film, it portrayed Jackie Shroff as Bhola, who is also known as Shiva. He is in search of revenge with the help of his supernatural weapons. The movie failed at the box office but not long ago son Tiger Shroff shared that as a child, he used to watch the film over and over again. “Every son’s first superhero is his father and it was the same for me. For me, he was Superman and Batman combined.” Now that’s loyalty!
Puneet Issar – Superman
Starring Puneet Issar in the lead, the film rips off the original in the most damaging way possible. As Superman, he tows an entire plane easily on the runway, drags a car backward from a distance, and even fills dozens of plates with tasty eatables without needing to touch them. Funniest of all is our desi superman’s prominent and oh-so-fake kiss curl that you cannot tear your eyes from.
Amitabh Bachchan - Ajooba
On one hand, he is Ali, an ordinary restauranteur; on the other, he is Ajooba, the masked rider in black (a la Zorro). Together with his friend Hasan (Rishi Kapoor) they thwart the evil Vazir's schemes, raid his caravans, and woo their girls. The war in the climax involved demons, magical horses and donkeys, enchanted swords, and the revelation about the true identity of Ajooba. Understandably, not many were brave enough to venture into theatres!
Amitabh Bachchan - Toofan
The film starred Amitabh Bachchan in a double role as twin brothers. One is the title character Toofan, a superhero who uses his crossbow as a weapon, to help others in distress and find his father’s murderer. The other is a magician named Shyam. The ‘Amitabh magic’ didn’t quite work and the film just about scraped through.