This fortnight’s Time Out Mumbai highlighted a documentary titled “Supermen of Malegoan” which aired on NDTV 24X7 over the last weekend. It seemed interesting so I decided to give it a watch. And it sure turned out to be a gem of a documentary.

supermen-of-malegaon

The documentary is set in Malegaon which is a small town about 175 miles from Mumbai. The town is based around the power loom industry and the town cinema hall provides a much needed escape from the drudgery of everyday life to the people residing there. Nasir, a videographer who helps run the cinema decides to shoot his own movie in Malegaon. Having previously shot such masterpieces like “Malegaon ke Sholay”, he wants to go all Hollywood this time. He decides to remake Superman into “Malegaon Ka Superman”. From here on the film follows the mad cap antics of the film crew as they go about bringing their dreams on to the silver screen.

He ropes in Shafique, who works in one of the local looms to play his “Superman”. Nasir explains that his “Superman” will be different, and will suffer from a variety of disease like asthma from flying in the polluted skies.  So he chooses Shafique, who looks like anything but Superman. And he chooses Akram to play the bald villain with a penchant for filth. (Excellent dialogue delivery by the way) As the movie progresses, you begin to see the joy that the simple act of making a film brings into their lives. They shoot with makeshift gear, green screens, a handy cam, a bicycle for a dolly and have many accidents on the way to completing the movie. And the local newspaper keeps referring to their production as “Spider-man”.  At the end of it you are convinced that even that scrawny set of bones playing “Superman” can fly! Such is the magic of cinema!!

The film crew is uniformly funny, from their attempts at green screen magic (quite successful actually), to the leading man playing Superman to the mishaps on set. The movie is darkly comic at times, and brings about the aspirations of simple people beautifully to the screen. It also highlights some of the problems that small town India faces like lack of power, clean water and other facilities. But most of all, the movie’s sheer brilliance lies in the manner it brings the joy of movie making to the audience.  Highly recommended stuff.

PS: The film has one kick-ass theme song  🙂

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