Alankrita Shrivastava, director of Lipstick Under My Burkha, believes it is high time that Bollywood invests in a female superhero.
After having smashed box office records worldwide last month, Wonder Woman will be seen portraying a pivotal role in the Justice League movie later this year. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, the film has been garnering positive accolades ever since its release early this month, especially for its powerful description of female characters.
However, back home in Bollywood, when it comes to the superhero films, the films almost always revolve around a male superhero. So, even when we are seeing quite a commendable number of women-centric roles off late, there has been no film based on a superwoman in a cape.
Alankrita Shrivastava, director of Lipstick Under My Burkha, believes it is high time that Bollywood invests in a female superhero. “The genre is so huge right now! I think it is crucial to have women playing superheroes. When popular culture shows strong female role models, it enables women to think of themselves differently,” she says. “In a country like India, where there is so much gender discrimination and violence against women, a great female superhero would be fantastic. We need one!” she explains.
While Bollywood has produced superhero films in the past, the productions have largely comprised of male superheroes. Superhero films such as Ra.One, the Krrish franchise, and the most recent The Flying Jatt concentrated on male superheroes. Sanjay Gupta, who recently directed Kaabil, argues that for Bollywood to make a superhero film with a woman, it might take a really long time, since we’re lagging behind in the genre itself. “We are decades behind Hollywood when it comes to the superhero genre. We really need to catch up with the genre itself before we delve deeper into it,” he points out. Explaining his point further saying that a superhero film of the calibre of a Marvel or DC requires a massive budget and investment in terms of time — something that Bollywood can’t exactly provide.
“A lot of time and money needs to be invested if one is to make a superhero movie. Bollywood actors and actresses need to devote that much. Look at Baahubali, for instance. All the actors on board gave at least four to five years of their time to the film,” he says, adding, “If you need to make an epic, you have to put in time.”
As it turns out, time isn’t just the only factor that is keeping Bollywood from making a full-blown superhero film alone make one with a strong female protagonist. Anubhav Sinha, director of Ra.One, says, “Most superhero films need to be made by a studio since it requires a huge capital investment. And, studios prefer to bet their money on a film that has a hero.” While studios are meant to invest on the creative, they don’t do that a lot. “It is only seldom that we see studios investing in talent. They often come on board for and with a big star,” the director explains.
Anubhav also mentions that a superhero film isn’t as easy as a regular Bollywood potboiler. Apart from capital, a lot of pre and postproduction effort is required too. “When you are making a Bollywood drama, you have the option of going on the set, discussing your scene with the actor and then taking it ahead from there. But, a superhero film needs to be visualised from the start — it requires meticulous planning, which is the spine of the film,” he elaborates.
However, if he ever does make a superwoman film starring a strong woman character, Anubhav promptly says he has one name alone in his mind for the role — “Without a doubt Priyanka Chopra!” he signs off.