Tucked away somewhere in Bollywood we have a factory that churns out remakes of Hollywood, Tollywood and Mollywood to good effect. Oshiwara is where the 'intellectuals' put their head together. The characters are picked up as it as and even scenes are 'lifted'. Some go on to become Bollywood blockbusters raking in the crores. Why, there have even been tunes replicated to Hindi lyrics!
What SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON does is turn plagiarism on its head. It sets a benchmark for rural creativity that can find its audience at the international arena. Faiza Ahmad Khan concocts a heady mix of originality tempered with a huge dose of raw creativity to deliver a killer brew that is sure to have you leaving the multiplex high on thinking differently. Actually, you don't want to leave your seat even after the movie has ended because the director has you begging for more. When was the last time you had this feeling?
SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON is a crisp 60-minute documentary on the life of the people of Malegaon that is actually a smartly told feature. If marketed aggressively, this can turn out to be a bigger blockbuster than ROWDY RATHORE. But unfortunately, films with intellectual content have few takers.
Malegaon has become notoriously famous for its blasts over the last few years. The tension between the Hindu Muslim communities is what director Faiza starts with. For one moment, my heart sinks. Not another of those Hindu-Muslim lessons I think to myself. But thankfully, that is not what she dwells upon. She deflects from that topic as quickly as she touches upon it, to dig deep into the lives of the people of Malegaon fighting economic depression to make ends meet. Theirs is an endless saga of working in the power loom. On Friday's however, their lives and mind get a break. This is when they escape into fantasy land immersing themselves into the world of movies.
They cannot be movie stars, but that does not stop them from dreaming of being a star. One such character is known for making blockbusters. His name is Nazir Shaikh. A spoof on SHOLAY has given him the bravado to attempt more and his budget is just Rs 50,000 for a movie. The ingenuity with which he spoofs Gabbar and his gang using cycles instead of horses is hilarious. ''The movie ran for over two months,'' he informs us through an interviewer. ''Tickets were even sold in black.' There is no sense of puffed up pride when he delivers this line, but just nonchalance. As if to say, 'what is the big deal.''
Done with Bollywood, he now wants to give the locals of Malegaon a dose of Hollywood. Superman is his next stop, with a comic take. This Superman will fly to the nearest mobile tower, when on ground, if the network is weak! He wears rubber slippers with red socks worn over blue ill-fitting pants tucked under a red short pant with the thread (keeping it together) hanging out. The emblem is M instead of S and the director tells us that this is not a lift. ''We have just taken the idea but the story is completely different. There are different situations unlike the one you saw in the Superman series. This Superman is a comic character, so where is the copying?'' he asks.
With such confidence as attitude, it is no wonder then that he is adept at getting his cast at rock bottom rates along with the accessories. The camera used is a Handy cam, but there are special effects at the editing table which is bargained for Rs,10,000.
Shaikh also wonders how there are so many people involved in making a movie... cameraman, make-up artist, sound engineer, editor, etc... ''I do everything,'' he says. ''I did not even know what I was doing was called editing until someone told me,'' he laughs. It is lines like these that endear you to the plot. This is apart from the careful selection of characters both for the movie and for the movie within the movie.
SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON should be our entry at the Oscars. This is movie-making of a different kind. Faiza Ahmed Khan has shown us what she is capable of. Time for us to celebrate her genius.
The five star rating is for the concept, content and delivery style. But more importantly, it is for the fearless manner in which this idea has been given shape to. Kudos to PVR Director's Rare, which is throwing its doors open to meaningful cinema and film-makers that would have otherwise been lost in the crowd.