The dream of an Indian superhero with true credibility seems like a distant reality. Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane have set themselves an ambitious task of creating a superhero with Bhavesh Joshi:Superhero. Earlier attempts at creating a superhero have been largely forgettable with Rakesh Roshan's Krrrish which at best is a half ok aping of Marvel and D.C. population. People do talk of Shaktimaan, Ajooba, Toofan etc as amateur attempts of the past but then there was no "script" based business in regular Bollywood genre.
Bhavesh Joshi is a sincere attempt to give some honesty, logic and creative disruption to the superhero genre in Hindi films. The film is very heavily inspired by D.C.'s Batman. But what it does differently is that it builds its entire premise on Indian backdrop with Indian issues and a very typical Indian narrative which looks good.
Sifting through this movie, one sees everything in start up mode. No previous comic, no previous published content, unknown star, unknown cast, shoestring budget and so on. But what it scores on is its tight storyline which focuses less on gadgets and their jingoism but on real life hardcore solutions to problems and challenges of the common man in India.
Motwane very skilfully builds the story on the cellphone and social-digital consumer mindset in India. The consumer is fully empowered with Internet, Youtube, Camera and a dash of idealism. Here Motwane uses Internet as a tool for change for a superhero.......i would say that is a first in this genre in India.
So Bhavesh Joshi played with grit by newcomer Priyanshu Piyanuli hangs out in regular working class Mumbai with best friends Sikander played by lead Harshvardhan Kapoor and Rajat played by newcomer Ashish Verma. Rajat is a writer who dreams of making his hero Insaaf Man into a big film. Sikander and Bhavesh do their regular MNC jobs to survive. But one day all of them hatch a plan to start a YouTube channel which will highlight local citizen issues which plague the daily Mumbaikar. Interestingly both Bhavesh and Sikander dress up as crusaders with zilch budget, use paper bags to cover their faces and end up looking like desi versions of the Ku Klux Clan. They make some impact but get into bigger problems which they find very very hard to tackle. And as a churn from these series of events, Bhavesh Joshi: Superhero takes birth.
The Trouble Of being a low budget superhero
The biggest dilemma of this film is to portray reality and yet be super heroish. So there is no Kryptonite,space wars, billionaire caped crusaders and flying gadgets etc. Even the premise is the overcrowded parts of Mumbai which hardly looks like a setting of a superhero film. So the honesty of BJ:SH is its biggest problem. A buddy film which takes on the system ends up being a superhero film. I mean it can be argued that all of the things achieved by the protagonists in this film can be achieved without any super power frankly. Thats the big issue with this story. The Motwane group has its heart in the right place but fail to deliver the opulence of a superhero.
The Batman connection
In a scene, when Sikander is explaining his crime fighting analogy to a girl in a bar, he jokes " we are more like D.C. and not like Marvel". But after this ridiculous conversation he ends up scoring with a chick who becomes his love interest....Its this portrayal of the laid back attitude which ruins the greatness of the film.
The film uses the Batman Begins template on the origination of Bhavesh Joshi. It actually uses characters like Ra's Al Ghul (here he seems to be a karate teacher in Mumbai) , A clear refrain from the central love interest, a spiritual reason to fight crime. A really poor quality accelerator is used to pump up the bike on which Bhavesh navigates. Motwane could have at least given some finish to this ridiculous piece of machinery. The bike is Joshi's Batmobile. The only thing which looks credible is Mumbai which at night gives you a fleeting glimpse of Gotham City.
Bhavesh Joshi is the indie superhero with a heart of gold. But the problem is that the viewer doesnt give two cahoots about the heart, all they want is the "Gold". The thing which he/she cant do themselves. Something to be inspired by.....It will be largely unfair to compare this film with "Avengers" etc but this film which gets its origin story very nicely goofs up on the bigger picture. Harshvardhan is the real problem here, he doesnt look, act, thinks like a superhero. He is a guy who is an accidental superhero. The villain also is quite bad played by Nishikant Kamat, surely they must have had better choices. And without a great villain, a superhero is quite jobless. Kindly note that all superheroes are accidental as well but they usually end up having a speciality or a "power".
Its here this film fails miserably.
This is a film which could have been great.
The Baniya Meter gives the film 4 out of 10 for its originality.