Tag Archives: Supermen of Malegoan

Best Bollywood Movies of 2012

2012 was a good year for Hindi movies. Of the fifty 2012 releases that I reviewed this year, thirty-one earned positive reviews of 2.5-stars or higher. The ten films below were the best of the best. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

My favorite movies of the year were almost exclusively dramas, whether the subject matter was political (e.g., Shanghai and Chakravyuh), social (e.g., Ishaqzaade and Talaash), or personal (e.g., Cocktail and Patang).

English Vinglish — a personal drama about a mother’s quest to regain her self-worth — proved to be one of the years most delightful surprises, thanks to a triumphant return to the big screen by Sridevi.

I awarded a perfect four-stars to three movies this year — movies that could not be more different from one another. Supermen of Malegaon is one of the most fun and fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen. While it never released theatrically in the U.S., the whole movie is available for free with English subtitles on YouTube.

Evaluated in a vacuum, Barfi! is a wonderful and heart-wrenching movie. But given director Anurag Basu’s apparent lifting of whole scenes from other films, I have trouble recommending it with a clear conscience. Therefore, I instead recommend the (unfortunately-titled) Jism 2, a movie so bad, it’s good. There’s no movie I had more fun watching in 2012.

The best film of the year was a meticulously crafted thriller with character development to spare and a magnificent, evocative setting. My best Bollywood movie of 2012 is Kahaani.

This is a movie I could watch over and over again. Vidya Balan reaffirms that she’s the most talented actress working in Hindi films at the moment. Her co-star, Parambrata Chatterjee, holds his own alongside her, playing a police officer with a crush that’s doomed to go nowhere.

One aspect of Kahaani I particularly appreciate is its positive take on marriage. Balan plays Vidya, a pregnant woman from London searching for her husband, Arnab, who’s gone missing in Kolkata. Everyone tries to tell her that he has probably just run out on her, but she refuses to believe them. She knows in her heart that not only would he never leave their unborn baby, but he wouldn’t leave her, either.

So often, we’re confronted with cultural tropes that portray marriage negatively. Husbands are depicted as either incorrigible philanderers or hapless morons barely tolerated by wives who only need them for baby-making and yardwork.
Isn’t it more satisfying to see an onscreen marriage in which both partners really know and value each other? That’s what makes Vidya’s search so frustrating and engrossing: there’s real love at stake.

Best Bollywood Movies of 2012

  1. Kahaani — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  2. Barfi! — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  3. Supermen of Malegaon — Buy at Amazon
  4. Talaash — Buy at Amazon
  5. English Vinglish — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  6. Patang — Buy/rent at iTunes
  7. Ishaqzaade — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  8. Chakravyuh — Buy at Amazon
  9. Shanghai — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  10. Cocktail — Buy at Amazon

Honorable MentionJism 2 — Buy at Amazon

Previous Best Movies Lists

 

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Movie Review: Supermen of Malegaon (2008)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

I enjoy watching movies about making movies, especially those that are able to remind us of why we like going to the cinema in the first place. Supermen of Malegaon is one of those films.

The documentary follows small-time filmmaker Shaikh Nasir as he creates a localized spoof titled “Malegaon Ka Superman” (“Superman of Malegaon”). Nasir doesn’t consider himself an artist, rather a hobbyist who enjoys making low-budget versions of big-budget films for the enjoyment of the cash-strapped residents of Malegaon. His ultimate dream is to earn enough money to reopen his own video hall, which famously once ran James Cameron’s The Abyss for two months.

Nasir’s versions of blockbusters like Sholay rely heavily on local references and dialect and utilize local talent. Teen boys relish the anticipated boost to their social status just for appearing in the background of “Malegaon Ka Superman.”

Superman himself is played by a skinny guy named Shafique, who takes time off from his job working a power loom to star in the film. Shafique’s other film duties include organizing props and shopping for makeup with Nasir.

What makes the story especially interesting is that “Malegaon Ka Superman” actually looks entertaining. It’s not a ripoff but a comical remake. Malegaon’s Superman spends more time being saved than he does saving people. He can’t swim, so he floats around the lake on a rubber tire. If he flies too high, air pollution inflames his asthma.

The documentary’s director, Faiza Ahmad Khan, never makes fun of Nasir, Shafique, or the other crew members. One of my problems with another excellent documentary about a low-budget filmmaker, American Movie, is that the documentary director sometimes seems to poke fun at the men being filmed. Supermen of Malegoan doesn’t do that. The circumstances of making “Malegaon Ka Superman” are funny, but the men themselves are not.

In fact, the experience of working on “Malegaon Ka Superman” is a stepping stone for a couple of members of the crew. With his acting, editing, directing, and musical abilities, crew member Akram knows he stands a chance of building a real movie career in Mumbai. Co-writer Farogh is also aware that his job prospects are limited in Malegaon.

Farogh gives one of my favorite interviews in the film when he talks of the pain of being a screenwriter. He laments that 80% of the film he sees in his mind won’t make it to the screen. It can’t. Farogh explains that it’s a pain all writers have to live with, and that no amount of accolades or money can relieve it.

The sentiment illustrates the truth at the heart of the film: in its purest form, filmmaking is a passion. Urged on by the need to create, a group of people make a special film on a shoestring budget and with outdated equipment. Supermen of Malegaon is as inspirational as it is fun.

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