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December 17, 2012

Movie Mondays: Superman (India 1987)

Title: Superman (a.k.a. Indian Superman)
Director: B. Gupta
Writers: Naseem Saharanpuri and S.K.S. Sharma (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)
Distributed By: Goldmines Films
Starring: Urmila Bhatt, Birbal, Dharmendra, Puneet Issar
Release Date: December 31st, 1987

Bollywood remakes and adaptations are certainly nothing new, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they adapted arguably the most famous comic book franchise of all time. That’s right, there’s a Bollywood adaptation of Superman. It’s called Superman (1987), although most will refer to it as Indian Superman.

If you haven’t been under a rock and know the premise of Superman, then the basic premise of Indian Superman should come as no surprise. A baby Kryptonian is sent away on a small spacecraft by his loving parents just before the planet explodes. He ends up in a rural part of Earth and is raised by an elderly, childless couple, discovering his superpowers later on and eventually taking up the identity of Superman to save mankind. And while it steals some things from the more famous Superman film and has the premise from the comic book, it’s far from being the same.

The similarities end there. This isn’t a lower budget Bollywood Superman, this is a super low budget Bollywood want-to-be Superman. Like 3 Dev Adam, this lacks production values and makes you appreciate films that have a good crew. It’s painfully obvious that they didn’t spend much time on post-production or any kind of restoration in the digital age. Not only that, they didn’t even spend much time post-production when the film came out. You don’t have to be a film tech junkie to figure out that they used an inferior boom mic that makes everyone sound muffled. Not to mention that not only is a good deal of the film’s soundtrack “borrowed” directly from John Williams, it even has that warped vinyl sound, although nowhere near as bad as 3 Dev Adam. Someone must have ripped this straight off the film reel, as there’s plenty of film scratches and even scratching noises. Which has a cool retro feel for a second, but then devolves into being a constant annoyance.


Indian Scarface.

Production techniques aside, there’s nothing here that makes it up. Quite the contrary. The story, or what can be deciphered since there isn’t any translation, has the basic elements of Superman, Kal-El’s superhero identity Superman and his dorky alter ego Clark Kent, a rich Lex Luthor-ish villain, and so on, so forth. But the elements don’t add up. It’s not a Superman film as much as a man simply dressed up in a cape. At least Puneet Issar knows the difference between Clark Kent (playing him like Harold Lloyd) and Superman, but there isn’t any award winning acting here.



There’s a lot that could be said about Indian Superman, from its laughably bad special effects, horrible color choices, or badly choreographed fight scenes with over-the-top sound effects. But none of that compares to the dancing scenes. That’s right, dancing in a Superman movie. There’s no rhyme or reason when the singing and dancing occurs, nor does it make much sense. If you’re expecting an elaborate, beautifully done Bollywood scene, you can forget it. Most of the scenes have a woman serenading to Superman or the Lex Luthor villain for a few minutes with just an OK song and dance. Or the rare occasion when Superman dances, or the young Clark Kent break dances to “Beat It” in front of his parents and family friends.


Eat your heart out Adam West Batman.

Whether it’s the constant barrage of dance sequences, the cheap use of Superman’s name to try and make a quick buck, or the plain fact that despite being made in 1987, this looks like a low budget 60s film, this might be the worst comic book movie I’ve seen. 3 Dev Adam might be worse due to its even lower production values, and Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (a.k.a. Turkish Star Wars) might have them both beat. But regardless of which movie you pick, you’re scraping at the bottom of a barrel that’s below another barrel that’s below another barrel. There are some funny moments in Indian Superman, but if you’re looking for some exploitation laughs, you’re better off watching (purposely funny) Italian Spiderman, as Indian Superman‘s few entertaining moments are marred by plenty of slow, excruciating ones. Though perhaps this should be required viewing, because after watching this, all of those major bad comic book movies don’t seem so bad after all.

Andrew Hudson



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