Why doesn't India have its own superhero blockbusters
While Hollywood is experiencing the golden age of superhero movies, Indian cinema is yet to see its first larger than life superhero blockbuster. What could be the reasons for the world’s largest film industry (in terms of number of films produced) to shy away from the genre?
We looove superheroes! Excitement ran rife in March around the release of ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ and we couldn’t help feeling disappointed about the lack of Indian superheroes universe and blockbusters. We are a country of over 700 million fans with a mega appetite for all things super. Yet Doga, Commander Dhruva, Nagraj have not found the pedestal in India that Superman, Batman, Hulk, Spiderman and other Marvel and DC superheroes are placed on.
Indian producers probably do not see the returns on the astronomical budget that a good superhero movie requires. The three movies in the Hrithik Roshan starrer Krrish series were made with modest budgets of INR 30 Cr (Koi Mil Gaya, 2003), INR 40 Cr (Krrish, 2006) and INR 95 Cr (Krrish 3, 2013) and made quite a wave, especially at the box office. Yet, we did not see Krrish turn into a childhood idol or own Krrish merchandise we could lust over. Shahrukh Khan’s 2011 starrer Ra.One had stellar VFX and special effects and cost around INR 150 Cr to make, but it bombed with a 4.7/10 IMDb rating. There have been rumours of a sequel but nothing has been communicated officially.
Another aspect to mull over is that Indian comic books creators like Raj Comics and Diamond Comics have iconic superheroes that are well thought through with good origin stories, yet their potential to rock the box office has not got the confidence of big production houses. News of Anurag Kashyap being in talks with Raj Comics to make a blockbuster featuring Doga was floating around, however, it was shelved (probably after Bombay Velvet bombed badly). Kashyap did produce Bhavesh Joshi, (it’s not based on a comic book), but it turned out to be so ‘thanda’ that it is being listed among director Vikram Motwane’s weakest works. For now, fans have to satiate themselves with a 1997 ad of Sonu Sood playing Nagraj and a bleak possibility of Ranveer Singh playing the iconic character in a movie to be made by Karan Johar. They were apparently in talks with Raj Comics in December 2019, but no more news has come up since.
On a lighter note, Indian heroes stun us enough with their might and moves that who needs superheroes? Think Singham or Dabangg. A punch from the mighty Salman Khan sends scores of hefty goons flying off, defying gravity! The compulsive “Bollywoodisation” by having the superhero dance and romance is limiting. The hopes to see a true blue superhero movie with even darker shades of what Nolan did with Batman may always remain a dream.