Movie Review: MR. INDIA (1987) – Bollywood’s First Superhero Movie

Published by Shah Shahid on

I’ve always found it amazing when I discover unintended parallels between Bollywood and Hollywood. The similarities in formulas, styles, genres… fascinate me. I’ve re-watched this movie after years, and realized that MR. INDIA is the first super hero origins story from Bollywood… even before it was a massive trend in Hollywood.

Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

it’s not as ridiculous as the poster makes it seem… honest!

Featuring the regularly moustache clad Anil Kapoor as the unofficial head of an orphanage which he personally runs and funds, by taking in street kids and orphans, MR INDIA is an awesome story of good vs. evil and all that it entails. It’s a freakin’ classic!

Anil Kapoor’s Arun is a kind and noble man who, being an orphan himself, understands the pain of it, and so has took it upon himself to provide for other orphans. Without any proper income, what he lacks in financial stability, he more than makes up for with the immense love for these children that he considers his own.

heart of gold… the smile says it all

MR. INDIA is about how this man with such a small and specific world, comes to posses a gadget, granting him the powers of invisibility and how he uses it to prevent wrong and inspire a nation while fighting awesome bad guys bent on taking over India.

Yes, it’s a tired old formula heard over and over again… In Hollywood! This type of story was fairly new in 1987 Bollywood, and I don’t think has even been done properly since then.

invisibility… on!!

MR. INDIA features all the essential elements of a super hero story from the beginning to the end. It’s got the underdog with a heart of gold main character meeting the girl under misunderstood circumstances who eventually stands by him and shares his journey element. Continuing further with the whole initial reluctance of the hero to take on anything that endangers his world and the people he loves, however, a heavy loss motivating him to fight for his beliefs. His actions then go on to creating a ripple effect that inspires the public and causes him to become a symbol for truth and justice. The costumes throughout the movie by Arun can even be described as a ‘hero outfit’ as it’s the same kind of wind breaker / shirt with a fisherman’s hat… ALL THE TIME! Not to mention the best thing about a super hero story… the villain! MR INDIA’s  got an over the top and clichéd villain in the amazing and late Amrish Puri as Mogambo; complete with a secret lair, monosyllabic henchmen, cheesy catchphrase and evil ways to dispose of his enemies.

such an awesome villain…

The most amazing thing about MR. INDIA is that it’s got a little bit of everything, preventing it from being a one note movie, but a well rounded story that works on a variety of levels. There’s plenty of slapstick jokey humor, which is a given considering it’s a family film full of kids, as well as heartbreaking tragedy (I cried) not to mention awesome action sequences using the invisibility angle which at the time were never before seen.

This was actually directed by now Hollywood Director Shekhar Kapur (ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE) however, despite the awesome-ness of MR INDIA, there’s still parts of it that I have issues with. For example: the gadget offers Arun invisibility, however he displays acts that require immense strength, speed and physically impossible situations, none of which is explained in the movie. This happens to be an exaggeration of typical Indian suspension of disbelief. But the movie is so enjoyable and those things can be forgiven.

MR. INDIA was an incredible family film made by an International Director that ended up being an amazing story of adventure, responsibility and essentially that of a super hero origin, at a time when that particular sub genre was unheard of.

Get The DVD

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


shalinijena · November 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Amazing review! One of the best that I have read on this fantastic bollywood film!

    Shah Shahid · November 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Thanks for the comment. Finally hearing from you after numerous ‘likes’.
    I had a different reaction to it now, than when I watched MR INDIA as a kid.
    Thanks for the support!

Trailer Talk: VISHWAROOPAM – 2013 « · January 15, 2013 at 11:03 AM

[…] Kapur makes a special appearance in this. The awesome and international Director of movies like MR. INDIA, BANDIT QUEEN and ELIZABETH makes a rare acting appearance?! Do I need anything else to be excited […]

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