India’s mythology is full of beings who are capable of superhuman feats. And those stories have been faithfully and successfully adapted over the years. However, while the West has updated their lore into modern day superheroes like the Avengers or the Justice League, we are way behind on that aspect. Just look at ‘Ra.One’ (yeesh!)
When we were kids we had Shaktimaan who taught us to protect the environment, fight evil and stay good. Despite releasing in 1987, ‘Mr. India’ was a genuinely good film with endearing characters. But in the 21st century, superhero movies have been used as a gimmick (with poor special effects) to the point that it’s a box-office curse. So, what’s the solution?
It’s about time that major production houses like Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures etc., should start hiring Indian directors.
So, when you first read that statement, you’ll probably think that why would they do that? Why should these international studios bring people from India to spearhead their tent-pole projects? Well, my answer to that is these 5 faces that you’re seeing below.
Most mainstream superhero movies are getting made in Hollywood because they’ve the resources and the bucks to make them. But, they’ve kept things fresh by branching out to directors whose roots aren’t in America.
That’s how we got a grounded version of Batman through England’s Christopher Nolan, after Joel Schumacher killed the franchise. New Zealand’s Taika Waititi brought his country’s history with colonialism in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro showed his ‘Hellboy’ duology through the perspective of an immigrant. Australia’s James McTeigue invoked the need for a revolution with ‘V for Vendetta’. And Ryan Coogler dug deep into his African ancestry for ‘Black Panther’ to set an example for superhero movies.
As I believe that Indian directors can use their experience to tell stories about superheroes in ways that the world hasn’t seen yet, Hollywood should start hiring them to keep the sub-genre fresh. And here are my top choices:
1. Anurag Kashyap
I don’t think Anurag Kashyap needs any introduction. He has given the Indian audience some spectacular movies like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Ugly’, ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Mukkabaaz‘. He can weave cliched plot-lines with political topics like it’s a walk in the park. His raw and gritty action gives off a pulsating feeling. And if Hollywood gifts him the freedom of an R-rating, I’m sure he’s gonna outrun ‘Logan’, ‘Blade’ and ‘Deadpool’.
2. Vikramaditya Motwane
Letting this man helm a superhero film is a no-brainer. He has already showed how adept he’s at origin stories with ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’. Additionally, as his diverse filmography involves a coming-of-age movie, a love story and a psychological thriller, Hollywood can throw anything at him and he’ll ace it.
3. Zoya Akhtar
There are only a couple directors in Hollywood who are capable of handling ensemble movies. And since most franchises come to that point where every story in it collides on the screen, they need someone who can handle so many characters. For a movie like that, Zoya Akhtar’s the go-to director. Given her expertise, I’ll go so far as to say that she’s one of the only directors who can pull off a successful ‘Fantastic Four’ movie.
4. S. S. Rajamouli
Although I’m not a fan of Rajamouli’s ‘Baahubali‘ series, I have to give him major props for his ambition. The sheer scale and magnitude of his movies hasn’t been attempted by any of his peers. However, he’s restricted by our VFX and stunt work. That’s why I think he and his vision will greatly benefit from the likes of Weta Digital (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) or ILM (Star Wars franchise).
India as a country is a contradiction because it’s constantly trying to be modern and staying true to its 1000-year-old culture. And since these directors have been born in this complex system, they see the world in a very different way. As superheroes need to become more than just people in tights, letting these auteurs tell their stories is the right way to do so, while also paving the way for a new generation of filmmakers.