(Indian) Superman

Director: B. Gupta

When I heard the premise of this movie - a treatment of the story of Superman done in India - I knew I had to see it, for several reasons. My exposure to Indian movies has been very limited, but the brief clips I have seen have looked very cheap and amateurish - so I wondered how they would try to do all the special effects necessary to depict a Man Of Steel. Also, knowing how Indian filmmakers seem to have a big inferiority complex (seeing how they have blatantly ripped off plots of American films for years), I was curious to see how they would try to get away with plagiarizing as much as possible while making changes that would make the movie attractive to an Indian audience. So I watched the movie, and... well, I'll tell you what I saw.

The movie starts with thundering music playing over the sight of a cityscape from some advanced alien civilization - hey, wait a minute! That music is from the American Superman movie! So are those special effects shots! Anyway, we soon cut to some new footage, taking place in a room that's colored and designed like the moon sets were in Amazon Women On The Moon - though this movie isn't supposed to be a parody. Though the dialogue is all in Hindi, it's easy to figure out that Jor-El, Superman's father, can't convince the planet elders (dressed in bright pink and purple togas) that Krypton is going to be destroyed. So Jor-El and his wife to a space capsule he's apparently made out of cardboard and aluminum foil, and put their infant son on a foil wrapped cookie sheet on top of the capsule. Funny that when the capsule soon after takes off just before the planet is destroyed, it looks like it's made of crystal, as if the filmmakers ripped off more footage from the original Superman movie.

The capsule reaches Earth and crashes in India with so much force, it leaves a long length of burnt grass in a field. The Kent couple comes by, and is so taken by seeing the baby lying on a bean bag chair, they decide to keep him. They quickly learn what a special son they now have - not only can he lift a car, but he can bend a garden hose in half. About ten years later, the Kents throw a party to show off to their friends the special powers their son Clark has. Clark proceeds to impress everyone by slowly and awkwardly breakdancing to Michael Jackson's "Beat It".

Clark's powers grow as he gets older. A car driving towards him manages to stop just before hitting him, but still gets a broken grill. He somehow outruns a train even though in every shot the train is moving faster than he is. When he sees some would-be rapists attacking a woman, he uses his super power of kung fu. Then comes the fateful day that changes his life forever. At another party his parents throw, with his super hearing he (apparently - remember, this is all in Hindi) overhears his adoptive father revealing that Clark was adopted. This leads to a scene where Clark confronts his adoptive father, though dad (apparently) indicates that even if he's not actually related, he still considers Clark his son. In tears, Clark hugs his old man - apparently too hard, for as soon as Clark lets go, dad falls down dead! Mother comes into the room, and seems to figure out what has happened. Nostrils flaring, she turns to Clark and....we see her staring at him. We then see Clark staring at his mother. We then see his mother staring at him. We then see Clark staring at his mother. We then see his mother staring at him. We then see Clark staring at his mother. We then see his mother staring at him. We then see Clark staring at his mother. We then see his mother staring at him. (Etc.)

Crushed (heh heh), Clark leaves India, and the next thing we know, we see him in the Arctic, where he has turned into Christopher Reeve. He stops at an appropriate place, and throws a crystal that was included in his baby capsule. It lands in the snow, and five seconds later a Fortress Of Solitude has grown out of the ice. As in the American Superman movie, Clark finds the image of his father in the Fortress, and is taught many amazing things. When Clark is ready, he flies out of solitude as a black silhouette of Superman. Throughout the movie, that's how our hero looks like when flying, with the occasional flash of a picture of a Superman doll appearing in the silhouette. Though to be fair, there are times you can see him clearly - when they steal more footage from the American Superman movie.

Superman flies to one of the big cities in India, where after a bizarre scene when as Clark Kent he stumbles into a house of women (at least with no translation, we can think of the dirtiest possible explanation for this), Clark gets a job in a.... well, with the big wall photo of a spectacular landscape in the wilderness, and the few clunky typewriters the business has, I'm going to assume it's a travel agency. Around the same time, we're introduced to the villain Superman will have to face (let's call him Lex Luthor.) After having a woman dance and sing for him (though not stripping - he's not sexist, as we'll see again later), he orders some of his men to hijack a passenger plane. It must be a really fast plane, because during its flight, it keeps alternating between day and night outside.

After a bizarre and long sequence involving a passenger who has to go to the bathroom badly, the thugs hijack the plane and take control. They didn't count on Superman coming to the rescue, though! Superman flies under the airplane and moves it back towards the airport. During this sequence, we always see the airplane from zero degrees, as if we were looking down at it - even when our view of the surrounding landscape gets closer and closer to ninety degrees. Despite this, everyone on board manages to stay in their seats, and Superman then breaks into the airplane to beat up the hijackers. When all of the hijackers are defeated, the bathroom guy goes up to our hero and says in English, "Thank you, Superman!" - even though this is Supe's first appearance to the world.

This setback doesn't slow down Lex. He then decides to send out more of his henchmen to do another job - make that, henchwomen. These girls, dressed in white shorts and red T-shirts, roar on their motorscooters into the hideout of a rival gang, and proceed to kung-fu the gang to death with choreography that makes the kind found in American movies look like Hong Kong. Clark and the movie's Lois Lane are later pursued by bad guys, but Clark sneaks behind a tree and pops out to kung-fu the gang and save Lois - though not before waiting some time so that the thugs can slap her around good and plenty. Superman later goes to visit some children and uses his telekinesis powers to move many plates of food all over the lawn. Then....

Well, there's more. A lot more. This movie is completely insane. There's so much more that I haven't even begun to describe. Like styles of clothing that would even embarrass The Brady Bunch. That the movie not only rips off footage from the American Superman movie, but from Silver Streak, Rambo: First Blood Part Two, and other movies I couldn't identify. Burglars that wear shorts and nothing else when robbing apartments. Musical numbers that with each subsequent one getting sillier, eventually getting the Lex Luthor guy to sing and dance. And then there's - well, I won't spoil any more of the movie for you. All that I'll add about it is that it was well worth the long search I had to take to get a copy. I simply have to check out more of the fascinating world of Bollywood in the future.

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See also: Fantasy Mission Force, Skidoo, The Story Of Mankind