Bhavesh Joshi Superhero won't be Gujarati Black Panther but kudos to Vikramaditya Motwane for experimenting

Utkarsh Srivastava

May 02, 2018 17:33:32 IST

If the wave of new story-driven Indian cinema had to be distilled down to a collective, it probably would look a lot like Phantom Films. With a slew of well-made films, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikas Bahl have garnered a loyal fanbase which is ready to put down money right after hearing the familiar "Fuh se Phantom" jingle at the beginning of a trailer.

While Kashyap is the most well-known of the three, Motwane has now carved out a niche for himself as a talented filmmaker. After a magnificent debut with Udaan, he went on to make the critically acclaimed Lootera and the rather underrated Trapped.

While Lootera was a understated romance, Udaan and Trapped were films that worked because they were so relatable. The small town vibes of Jamshedpur were perfectly captured in Udaan, which also had a wonderful Rajat Barmecha dealing with an abusive father, an experience that sadly far too many Indian children are exposed to. Trapped captured the angst and fear of big city living perfectly with the talented Rajkummar Rao in the lead. In today's ever-connected world, it was hard to imagine how someone could get trapped in their house in the city. Motwane managed to navigate that setup expertly which led to the film gaining many accolades.

In his latest offering Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Motwane is stepping away from his usual fare. The film is an action-based drama where good performances will certainly help but will also need to be complemented by neat action sequences and just the right amount of idealism. And from the first trailer, it looks like Motwane just might have pulled off something rather interesting.

Bhavesh Joshi is essentially an origin story i.e. a story about how the protagonist becomes the superhero over time. Starting off by stopping people who are not villains in the strictest sense of the word, the cracking down by local authorities pushes Joshi over the edge as he trains in martial arts, dons a costume and starts fighting real crime. The action sequences look slick and the mask is not half-bad either (though one does hope that the need for red LEDs around the eyes is explained).

It is in things other than the story that Motwane will be most tested. That he can elicit strong performance from actors (and Sonakshi Sinha) has been established in his earlier films. But a superhero movie is a different ballgame where the conflict needs to be believable and yet exciting. Further the fact that Joshi does not have "superpowers" means that fight scenes become pivotal. The night-time fight scenes in the trailer are reminiscent of the Daredevil TV series, a promising feat for Motwane and his crew. But it is hard to say how the final cut will turn out.

The lack of superpowers also makes for limited antagonists. The trailer suggests that the police and the politicians will be the major villains and it will be interesting to see how Bhavesh Joshi differs from the long list of films where the hero takes on the powers that be.

Overload of superhero movies means Bhavesh Joshi needs something special to stand out

There has been an overload of foreign superhero films in the last decade with studios discovering a treasure chest of stories ripe for the taking. While the special effects and grand destruction are a staple in those films, the best of the lot have usually distinguished themselves with a strong script. The importance of a good plotline is highlighted by the fact that a low-key but well-written Deadpool did exceedingly well whereas the grand spectacle that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was widely panned by critics.

As far the Indian superhero movie genre goes, suffice to say that the 1987 Anil Kapoor-starrer Mr India is yet to be surpassed in terms of quality and enjoyability.

It is here that Bhavesh Joshi might have the edge though. Motwane and Phantom Films are known for good stories and if they can translate that into the superhero genre, Bhavesh Joshi could be something special.

In summary, Bhavesh Joshi will probably not be the Gujarati Black Panther. But it could still be a much-needed addition to the Indian superhero movie genre (which currently boasts gems like A Flying Jatt and Drona). And that will be a pretty good start indeed.

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Updated Date: May 02, 2018 17:33:32 IST