Posts Tagged ‘supermen of malegaon’

Low-budget film-maker from India flies high with Superman of Malegaon

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 6:08 PM

Courtesy of The Times Online

By Rhys Blakely

When Slumdog Millionaire wowed audiences having cost a mere £15 million to make, the film industry’s savants foresaw a new era of super-frugal, post-credit crunch cinema.

They did not know the half of it. The latest darling of the festival circuit is a dirt-poor director who learned his trade shooting wedding videos in a backwater Indian town. His latest movie was made for just 0.01 per cent of the budget of Danny Boyle’s movie.

When Shaikh Nasir, 33, a shopkeeper with a unshakable passion for cinema, embarked on his first feature film in the industrial hub of Malegaon in 2000, his measly 50,000 rupee (£650) budget meant a bullock cart had to serve as a camera crane and neighborhood tradesmen were roped in to star.

Even the plot was second hand. The film was a spoof remake of Sholay, a hit 1970s Bollywood action adventure — even if Mr Nasir’s villain’s had to forgo the horses ridden by the original’s bandits, to travel by bicycle instead.

The homage, with its Python-esque eye for the ridiculous, delighted local audiences and won the director a cult following, but its DIY appeal never extended beyond the subcontinent.

Now, six super-low-budget films later, it appears that Mr Nasir is finally on the cusp of breaking onto the world stage. His latest project, Malegaon ka Superman (Superman of Malegaon), made for a relatively lavish 100,000 rupees, is winning international acclaim.

Something of Mr Nasir’s agreeably ramshackle — if slightly loopy — style is gleaned when he recounts his influences. “I learnt my craft from the English classics,” he told The Times. “James Bond, Jackie Chan, Charlie Chaplin, Commando, Rambo.” Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that while Malegaon’s Superman dons the red and blue of his Hollywood namesake, there the similarity ends.

Mr Nasir’s hero is played by Shaikh Shafique, a skinny factory worker who was paid about £1.30 a day in what was his first acting role.

Superman’s lycra outfit hangs from his scrawny frame. He wears flip flops over his baggy blue leggings, threads hang from his billowing shorts, and his asthma means he is not always up to fighting his nemesis, a local tobacco baron.

This may not sound like the type of fare worthy of winning gongs, but a documentary, called Supermen of Malegaon, which records the making of the feature film has clinched awards at film festivals in Los Angeles, Prague, Pakistan and Italy.

When Malegaon ka Superman was shown at a festival in Goa this week, international buyers jostled to snap up the rights. Consequently, a worldwide cinema release is — astonishingly — on the cards.

Such a move would put Malegaon, a gritty industrial town previously best known for ugly inter-religious violence, on the world cinema map — a status it surely deserves given the dedication of its hard-pressed film makers.

The region, about 180 miles northeast of Mumbai, is famous in India as the site of a bizarre parallel movie universe. Home-produced spoofs of Bollywood blockbusters made by a handful of budding amateur directors are more popular in Malegaon than the originals they parody.

The appeal of the spoofs, which are shown on VHS tape in local “mini theatres”, owes much to the incorporation of local idioms and the escape they offer audiuences from the monotony of 14-hour shifts in local factories, Mr Nasir says. There is also the delight to be had in spotting the neighborhood postman hamming it up as, say, an evil henchman.

The Superman film marks the first time Mr Nasir has sought inspiration from Hollywood, but it remains true to his cottage industry ethos. It may have the biggest budget yet and be the first to be edited on computer. But the production process still rests on improvisation.

Superman is only able to achieve the illusion of flight, for instance, because he is held up horizontally above the heads of three of the crew or rolled along on a plank of wood placed on top of a bicycle.

Now, with Superman proving a triumph, Mr Nasir’s fans want to know what source material he will tackle next?

Malegaon ka Dinosaur” — a remake of Jurassic Park — and “Malegaon ka Rambo” have been mooted as “dream projects”. However, a remake of another superhero franchise seems most likely: “Malegaon ka Spiderman“. Unless, presumably, Hollywood’s lawyers consider that an homage too far.

Low-budget blockbusters

• The low-budget zombie film Colin, which featured at Cannes festival this year, was made for £45. Marc Price, the director, said that the budget was spent on “a crowbar and some tapes”

• Robert Rodriguez raised almost $7,000 to make El Mariachi, his first feature film, by taking part in clinical drug trials. He went on to make blockbusters such as Sin City

• Oren Peli’s film Paranormal Activity cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to make and grossed more than $106 million

‘Supermen of Malegaon,’ on Review

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Courtesy of Variety

By Eddie Cockrell

A Mediacorp (Singapore)/NHK (Japan)/KBS (South Korea) production for the Asian Pitch. Produced by Faiza Ahmad Khan, Siddarth Thakur, Gargey Trivedi. Executive producers, Junichi Katayama, Chung-Yong Park. Directed by Faiza Ahmad Khan. With: Sheikh Nasir, Akram Khan, Shafique, Farogh Jafri, Shakeel Bharati.
(Urdu, Hindi dialogue)
An agreeably ramshackle film about the unshakable commitment of an equally rickety group of dirt-poor movie tragics producing a superhero spoof in their Muslim village, “Supermen of Malegaon” poses no threat to Warner Bros. but possesses a loopy, energetic DIY charm. Pic, which won the jury award for docu feature at Italy’s annual Asian film confab, the Asiatica Film Mediale, is too specialized to support a theatrical campaign, but is bounding along the fest circuit and should show its strength in ancillary.

Like “American Movie” before it, “Supermen of Malegaon” is about dreamers with more ambition than talent or resources. Here, the dreamer is wedding videographer and former videotheque proprietor Shaikh Nasir, who runs a cottage industry making spoofs of Hollywood fare and the Bollywood films produced a hundred miles away in Mumbai. The locals eat these films up, as life in the cotton-mill town of Malegaon provides little other entertainment.

Nasir is budgeted the equivalent of $1,200 for the project, which he explains by saying, “So far, nobody has messed with Superman.” One of his screenwriters, Farogh Jafri, reasons, “You open with a blast, so that you have the audience’s concentration,” while another, Akram Khan, who plays the bad guy, has a weird obsession with filth.

Reasoning that Superman would be “a victim of many diseases” with “asthma from flying through pollution,” they hire a scrawny guy named Shafique (who’s a dead ringer for Charlie Callas) to be their hero.

The shoot isn’t without incident: The helmer drops his camera into a river, Shafique needs four days off for his wedding, the handmade uniform must be washed and dried every day, and a local paper’s coverage repeatedly refers to the production as “Spider-Man.” Finally, the film, with the poster tagline “The Pack of Blasting Comedy,” is preemed at the resuscitated video parlor to much excitement.

Docu helmer Faiza Ahmad Khan is clearly fond of this endeavor and takes a benevolent view toward these passionate cineastes. Seventy-nine-minute version screening at SilverDocs appears to be a pre-existing 52-minute cut with the actual finished product grafted on; as rough as its creation would suggest, the pic sports a subversive humor.

Camera (color, HD), Gargey Trivedi; editor, Shweta Venkat; music, Sneha Khanwalkar, Hitesh Sonik; sound, Gunjan Augustine Sah; sound designer, Niraj Gera. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, Australia, June 7, 2009. (In Silverdocs Film Festival, Silver Spring, Md. — Silver Spectrum.) Running time: 79 MIN.

Welcome to 2010 Karaveners!

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2010 at 5:19 PM

Hot on the heels of a fantastic 2009 FilmKaravan is thrilled to share with you our many exciting projects for 2010. But first, a recap of 2009…

We kick-started last year with the premiere of Anurag Kashyap’s DEV D at the Museum of Modern Art, co-hosted by the film’s star, Abhay Deol. The film then went on to play top-tier festivals, including the Venice Film Festival. In April, we celebrated our two-year anniversary and launched the Karavan Kollective distribution project to give audiences access to quality South-Asian independent cinema on portals such as Netflix, Amazon, Indiepix and Reframe. Next, we released Nina Paley’s award-winning and visually sumptuous SITA SINGS THE BLUES, a DVD which has surpassed even our own expectations in sales and rentals. In mid November, we released the AIDS JaaGO DVD at a fundraiser where we brought together film luminaries such as Mira Nair, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri and Tannishtha Chatterjee, to speak up for AIDS awareness in a viral video that we produced to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Finally, at the end of the year, we launched FK’s production division with our first short film, GRANT ST. SHAVING CO. shot entirely in New York City over three days. The shoot was a tremendous success, and we expect the film to be completed by March in time for festivals. We are currently raising finishing funds to complete post-production on the film. You can check out a sneak-peek and help us with a tax-deductible donation of as little as $5 if you’d like.

Twenty Ten also finds us attached to produce several feature-films at different stages of development, and as always, we will be looking for new and exciting projects to take on.

In April 2010, we will be releasing the heartwarming film, SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON theatrically, on DVD and TV. Showcased in June at the MoMA’s New India festival, it is a remarkable film that salutes the spirit of filmmaking and embodies a fanatical love for the movies. Read more about it here.

We invite you to SIGN-UP to receive the latest updates in our quarterly NEWSLETTER on www.filmkaravan.com, follow our BLOG at https://flixmatrix.wordpress.com/, and become a FAN on Facebook.

Thank you for your continued support and here’s wishing you great things in the new year!

The FilmKaravan Team

Independent South Asian Film Festival (Tasveer) – Oct 2-4

In Red Hot Carpets on October 1, 2009 at 10:49 AM

poster_elephant_mediumWelcome to our 6th annual festival!

Join us for the Independent South Asian Film Festival (ISAFF), a celebration of the best independent films from the South Asian diaspora. This year’s festival runs from October 2nd through October 4th, and represents a diverse selection of films from many genres.

** NOTE: There have been many schedule changes. Please confirm all times on our calendar before making plans.

The festival is organized by Tasveer, a grassroots, community-based organization that is committed to bringing independent progressive films from South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora to the Pacific Northwest.

Our opening night film is The Damned Rain (Gabricha Paus), a hauntingly beautiful tale about farmer suicides in India. Our closing night film is The Living Ghost, the story of a tribal community whose lives are disrupted by modernization. Other highlights include: I Can’t Think Straight, an edgy comedy starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth, and Supermen of Malegaon, a hilarious documentary capturing a small-town filmmaker who overcomes a myriad of unseen challenges.

View full schedule

What FK loves – How about kids?!
Babes in arms welcome in the movie theater. Kids Play Room also available for children over 1yr to be dropped off. Tips are appreciated! Note: we have trained babysitters and volunteers, however, this is not licensed childcare room.

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

In Uncategorized, You Tell Us on September 25, 2009 at 7:01 PM


Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina opens with the line “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Like tragedy, comedy too can be quite contextual.

A few weeks back I saw two movies screened at MoMA’s The New India exhibition. The audience for both the screenings was fairly similar, mostly brown with a smattering of white, but the response was dramatically different.

Superman of Malegaon tells the tale of self-trained filmmakers in a small textile town on the outskirts of Mumbai. The audience is all equally amused as they see our 90-pound movie star suspended on wooden planks, pretending to fly. Sometimes we laugh at their amateurish efforts. At times we are amazed by their ingenuity. Though mostly we smile with them as they try to escape the miseries of their real world. The audience in the theatre has no experience of this life, there are no inside jokes so we are all in harmony.

Contrast this with Quick Gun Murugan where two arguments broke out during the screening. Why? Well certain sections of the white audience felt the brown were laughing too hard and too frequently.  And rightly so, for what is funny about a dude with thick foundation and eyeliner muttering “Come out, I say” in a thick accent? The movie is replete with humor that winks at Tamil cinema, and unless you have experienced it the movie seems more bizarre than comic.

The two movies bring out an interesting choice that filmmakers face – should I amuse everyone, or should I make a few laugh their heads off. I enjoyed both the movies – but I am sure the elderly lady snoring in the row behind me felt QGM had been a total waste of her waking hours.