It was way back in 2009 that I'd first heard that Anurag Kashyap will be bringing popular Indian superhero Doga to the silver screen. Having been an avid comic book reader since childhood, I was mighty happy. Happy, that a director like Kashyap might give Doga the dark yet sympathetic treatment it deserved. Much like Christopher Nolan had given to Batman.
Alas, the movie never got made. And after the Bombay Velvet debacle, the chances of it getting made look slimmer than ever. The wait to watch Doga, the merciless vigilante protecting the streets of Mumbai, just got longer.
With Hollywood currently going through the golden age of superhero movies, we too have had our fair share of 'superhero' movies. Movies like the Krrish series and A Flying Jatt.
However, while the former was criticized for blatantly copying scenes from popular Hollywood movies (including the animated Megamind. Seriously?), the latter bombed at the box office.
Which makes me wonder, why can't India have its very own comic book superhero movie?
Actually, this question stems from another concern of mine which is, why doesn't India have a comic book culture like that of America?
It's not as if we don't have the material. We have a plethora of superheroes loved by millions across the world and mind you, some of them have a pretty badass origin story. At least way better than that of ET's cola guzzling poor cousin from a distant planet who comes to Earth to grant some superpowers to one random kid in Nainital.
Why can't a certain Hrithik Roshan put his Greek god like features to good use and play Doga instead of playing Krrish? The origin story is there, the superstar is there, the similarity is there, what seems to be the problem?
If Sonu Sood had agreed to portray Nagraj way back in 1997 (yes, that'd actually happened), I see no reason why he can't do it now in a big budget production considering he agreed to do Happy New Year.
Maybe because we as a nation are yet to see comic books as an art form.
While superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man have successfully amalgamated the fictional and the non-fictional world by creating scenarios that have a strong potential to turn into reality in the near future, our comic books are still stuck in a fantastical universe which makes it very difficult for adults to appreciate them.
Another reason might be the fact that in India, our superstars perform elaborate, superhero stunts in every film of theirs. Who needs Superman when our Indian stars can do this?
As unfortunate as it may sound, the comic book culture in India has been on a downward spiral in the post-millennial era. I know this phrase is a tad overused, but again, only 90s kids will remember exchanging comics and the thrill that came with the purchase of a multi-starrer edition.
This unfortunate trend can be attributed to the fact that while comic books abroad successfully embraced technology instead of competing with it, our comic books could only keep a generation engaged for a limited period of time before they found alternate, better sources of entertainment. The nostalgia is there and will always be there, but a lack of innovation in the Indian comic book culture will always be a deterrent.
Hence, while Alan Moore is a globally respected comic book writer, his Indian counterpart Sanjay Gupta (of Raj comics) is yet to find mainstream fame.
Nonetheless, I'm hopeful. Hopeful of watching an Indian superhero, sorry, an Indian COMIC book superhero dazzle the silver screen one day. After all, if Donald Trump can become the President of USA, then anything's possible, right?