Vikramaditya Motwane’s office wall is lined with vintage posters of superhero films and his table is littered with comic books. It is no surprise then, that his latest film “Bhavesh Joshi: Superhero” is his tribute to the genre he grew up watching. With Harshvardhan Kapoor in the lead, the film follows a masked vigilante out to fight corruption on the streets of Mumbai.
Motwane, who first wrote the script in 2010, had to keep coming back to it as actors, producers and the storyline kept changing. He spoke to Reuters about the film’s message and his “true love”.
Q: This has been a film long in the making. How much has the story changed since the beginning?
A: And how have I changed? (Laughs) It has… the journey has been quite long. It started off as a film about someone who wanted to take care of his street. The idea stems from my living in Bombay (Mumbai), having grown up here and having seen the city change and some not-sogood things which happened. You get angry about them and want them to change, but what can you do? And the typical thing (to think) is: “I wish I could wear a mask and go whack somebody to do the right job.”
At one level there is the idealism in the film, and the other part is, how do you tell this to an audience? And being a huge fan of graphic novels and superhero films, the two worlds merged. When I wrote the original film in 2010, the whole story about corruption was at its peak – the Congress government was there, and people were really angry about it. The Jan Lokpal movement happened, the anti-corruption movement happened. I wrote the film about corruption in Mumbai, about landgrabbing. Then sadly, the film didn’t happen. First with Imran (Khan), and then Siddharth (Malhotra). By the time Siddharth came on board, the government had changed and the narrative was about “acche din” (good days), which suddenly made you feel: “Why am I making this?”
That film ended up feeling that it was going against the tide, which is fine, except that someone has to come up against the tide with you. I did go back to the script and changed a few things, including the plot. First it was about land, now the film is about water.
Q: Why did you make those changes?
A: Because I felt like nobody cared about land anymore. It’s very strange in Mumbai right now. Ten years ago, people said soand- so is grabbing this land, or this SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) scheme…but now it is almost the norm. We know it’s happening, but we are turning a blind eye to it. Look at what’s happened to Lower Parel! In the name of progress and infrastructure, we have turned a blind eye to the most basic things. But while this problem is there, it felt like it was a subject that was 10 years ago. It didn’t feel relevant any more.