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June 29, 2006   


Ye desh hai superheroes ka

I like comic books. And that's an understatement.

Born in India in the 80s, desi comics came in all shapes and sizes. Redrawn and exhaustively translated issues of Lee Falk's Phantom and Mandrake grew to cult status, peaking in 70s Bengal. Pran's Chacha Chowdhury, Billoo and Pinky formed a successful Diamond Comics lot. Amar Chitra Katha made mythology accessible, while Uncle Pai's Tinkle provided moralistic family entertainment. Back then, Tintin and Asterix were still affordable and American superhero comics were a rare find.

Lack of a superhero universe notwithstanding, we have always been massively into the culture of superheroes -- from Shaktimaan to Supremo. And when a recent release called itself Bollywood's first superhero film, I could feel my hackles rise. Heck, we've had superheroes for ages.

So, here is an exploration, a set of conversations with a few people responsible for familiar and unfamiliar superhero movies. Each has, in his own way, been a pioneer. And each has come decades before Krrish. I spoke to Mr India himself, Anil Kapoor; Ketan Desai, the man who made Toofan, and the utterly fascinating B Gupta, who directed the much-vilified Superman in 1987.

Quite an experience. Read on.

Text: Raja Sen | Design: Uday Kuckian


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