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Indian Superman began as a rumor. My brother-in-law was always a big
Superman fan, and one day he mentioned a rumor of a version filmed in
I didn't think much about it at the time, but as Christmas approached I
remembered his remark and wondered if I could actually find a copy to give
him. The internet being what it is, it was simply a matter of spending
several nights checking numerous combinations of keywords on a variety of
search engines until that magic night when there it was! It was a bootleg
copy, taped off of English TV with weird commercials intact. (Things like
this don't get sold at Wal-Mart, you know.) I gladly sent my money, and a
couple weeks later I held in my hands a copy of Indian Superman. Of
they don't call it that in India. They just call it Superman, or whatever
the equivalent is in the local dialect.
I didn't watch it right away, and when I did, well, I couldn't watch it all in one sitting. This thing is long. I mean really long. Two-and-a-half hours long. It's all in Hindi with no subtitles. Like any Bollywood production, there are dancing-girl scenes every 20 minutes that have nothing to do with the plot. Unique to this film, however, are the Superdad girls. I don't know what their names are in the film, but they were wearing Superdad t-shirts so that's what I call them. They are teenage henchmen who know a few kung fu moves. I mean, they almost know them. They work for the bad guys. Did the director not realize that Superdad shirts came about because of the popularity of the Superman movie in America? I don't think this was deliberate irony because not all of the girls are wearing the shirts.
Other incredible scenes include young Superman bending a garden hose to prove his strength, and a party scene where he breakdances to a Michael Jackson song! The special effects are excruciating, being a mix of bad models, nauseating attempts at mimicking flying (two crew members are visible on the stage in one such scene), and scenes stolen from the American Superman! I guess U.S. copyright laws don't extend to India.
Needless to say, Indian Superman was worth the effort it took to find it.
...this would be the greatest movie ever!!! Well I've got to hand it to those kooky Bollywood (ahem) film makers. Their (gasp, choke) expertise had provided the world with another perfect example of why stock footage is a great thing. Actually this movie is 2 1/2 hours long and at least 40 minutes of it is special effects footage lifted off the American Superman film from 1978, and I have to admit that they are by far the best scenes in the movie. I don't speak Hindi, but a friend of mine does, and we asked him to translate the film for us. He left after 20 minutes crying that it didn't make any sense to him either. I felt sorry for him, but it actually lifted the rest of the film up the scale of "so bad, it's good" theater. This is really actually pretty good, and the random English lines help to both entertain and confuse the hell out of me. I guess that this film is an acquired taste, if you don't like things like "Plan 9 from Outerspace" or "Gymkata", or even the Batman TV series from the 1960's then don't expect to like this, but if you love bad effects, acting, and cheesy costumes, get a copy and watch Superman Indian style.
Best line ever from a Bollywood flick: "There is something black in my
lentils..." - R.K. Verma
Now, the movie is absolutely pathetic, and yes, it rips off a fair bit from the version starring Christopher Reeves, but then again, so did every other Bollywood movie at the time! Honestly, I just watched it for comedic value, and if you take everything as tongue in cheek (and maybe if you turn down the volume and speak your own dialog on top), then maybe it's almost worth watching. Not renting, mind you. Never rent this movie. Never. Ever. Please. But if you can find someone who owns, or has been silly enough to rent this film, give it a go. At least give you a few chuckles. Heck, it's got a character named "Ms. Muscle Woman from Zambia". How bad could it really be?
Now I'm off to find a new TV. Mine decided to blow itself up instead of allowing itself to display atrocities like this film.
Still technically inept, and ridiculously overlong, but this second (at
least) Indian adaptation of Superman is kind of amusing in its
At times note-for-note copy of Christopher Reeve's first Superman film, even lifts the bulk of its special effects and flying footage from that film. When it does, and when we see this bloated, blubbery Superman in action, this is kind of fun, in a zany, slapstick, nearly satirical way. Sadly though, the filmmakers felt the need to drag this out to two hours, padding the runtime with mindless, pointless shenanigans, and bathroom toilet jokes.
We see Superman telepathically unwraps loaves of bread, and moves plates and sets the dinner table, again, all telepathically, in an oddly Dada-inspired moment, reminding me of something Hans Richter might have done, but filmed in colour.
Some footage of him flying is achieved by spinning the came in a complete 360-degree turn, while a still photo of him is placed in the centre of the screen. Even worse (or, funnier) some of the special effects scenes really look as though the camera was filming a television set playing the 1978 Superman, when Superman flies round the Earth to run time backward!
Nutty, zany, zero-budget ripoff, but it has a few more laughs than the 1980 Indian musical Superman, however, like that film, this just goes on and on forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't remember the budget of the original Superman but don't you have
to pay royalties if you're going to steal the CGI etc from the
Hollywood version; perhaps they did pay. It would explain why the rest
of the movie was so bad, no money left. Then again, as it almost looked
like the Hollywood scenes were filmed from a television set, perhaps
it's okay to plagiarise.
Rewrites of older movies can be fantastic, but I'm afraid this one didn't make the cut; totally unoriginal and unimaginative. It would be interesting to see a Nollywood version of this classic movie; as Nigeria are producing some really quite good and heart felt material.
This movie, though it's in a language I don't speak and is subtitled in a
language I don't read, was perhaps one of the major focal points of my
After seeing this film, all I wanted to do was go out and save people's
lives, in the style of the great Superman himself... complete with
worn on the outside of my clothes.
If you are ever lucky enough to see this movie, I warn you: you can't be put off by the cheesy special effects or the lame combat sequences. It's the essence of what the movie is about, the basic understanding of the good which drives Superman to do the deeds he does for us on the silver screen, the meaning behind each and every meticulously selected tree branch which gives this movie its awe-inspiring, breathtaking quality. I give it three thumbs up.
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