Bhavesh Joshi Superhero movie cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Priyanshu Painyuli, Ashish Varma, Nishikant Kamat
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero movie director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero movie rating: 2 stars
Three pals sit around shooting the breeze, getting all worked up about society and corruption and the common man and justice. That’s how the film begins, and instantly alerts us that it is about youth, power and a fight against Things That Trouble Us The People.
It is what loads of the young do, because it is what the young are meant to: rail against the system, in college canteens and classrooms, via processions and placards, their rage fading away as they enter the age of adulating and job forces and workplaces and targets and EMIs.
But our trio in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero – Sikku aka Sikandar (Kapoor), Bhavesh Joshi (Painyuli) and Rajat (Varma)– seems different. They seem to pick up the political zeitgeist (we see visuals referring to the Anti-Corruption movement which swept the country in 2011). They act, not just talk, leaping about in make-shift brown paper masks, setting things right. It is a nice comic-book touch, signalling that not all heroes are from out of space; they can be fashioned from amongst us. If we abandon selfishness and cowardice and self-absorption, and engage, really engage, with the issues that plague us, we can be the real superheroes.
Good idea, even if not madly original. And one of the three friends, played with well-judged earnestness by Painyuli, gets us to momentarily discard our cynical shells, and be willing to accompany him on his quest. But right about then, the film abandons lightness and goes over to the other side, and begins clomping. The confusion is tonal: is the movie being ironic and sending up the superhero genre, or is it being deadly serious?
The villain here is a greedy hood (Kamat, who does creepy well) and his henchmen who control the water supply in Mumbai. You can see glimpses of dystopia and the future: the next world war will not be over nuclear weapons, but over water. Again, smart plot point, but buried in trying to cement the superhero and vigilante strands. And the moth-balled triad of cops-‘netas’-complicit officials.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero clearly intends to be dark, edgy and cool. Trouble is, it spends too much of its time underlining its purpose, even getting a character to say these three adjectives—out loud– forgetting that part of the secret of being dark, edgy and cool is never to describe yourself thus. That prerogative belongs to the viewers.
Motwane really gets the young. His marvellous Udaan was about a slightly younger demographic, and there hasn’t been a better film about pre-teens and teenage young men. Here again, he channels youthful anger and unhappiness with an initial sense of purpose. And both Painyuli and Verma do a good job, carrying those burdens: Kapoor, who had a misfire of a launch in the star-crossed Mirzya, dons the superhero mask here with slightly better results, but only slightly. Parts of the film are engaging, but overall, it suffers from having too much to say and not quite sure of how to say it, and oh, while we are at it, why don’t we just bung in an item number. Which is quite cool, by the way, but again, it is tried-and-tested territory.
There is a film in here. Or should I say, would have been, if Bhavesh Joshi Superhero had been less of a cobbled-together-from-many-influences overlong yarn. And fresher, sharper, clearer. As things stand, the slot for a ‘desi’ superhero, with or without a cape, is empty. Applicants may step up.