ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


Shekhar KapurScience Fiction comes of age in Bollywood
02nd July 2008  22.30 IST
By Nikhil Kumar  

It has taken its own sweet time to develop, but the sci-fi genre has gradually come of age in Bollywood.

It was the English literature writers of 19th century who first toyed with ideas like time travel or aliens invading the Earth. Hollywood caught up on them in the era of black and white films and gave birth to a new genre in cinema: sci-fi.

Bollywood, disappointedly, has been lagging far far behind. Constraints of technology kept the filmmakers away from the genre in the decently long history of Hindi film industry until Shekhar Kapur decided to bell the cat in Mr. India . The movie, though not a full-fledged sci-fi thriller, introduced the genre to Indian audiences who were left with their mouths agape at the sight (pun intended) of a hero who becomes invisible by just turning on his wrist gadget, unless, of course, someone decides to put on the red light.

But 'Mr. India' was just a flash in the pan. After Kapur, no other Indian filmmaker dared to experiment with the genre and the sci-fi was put in a deep freeze for a good number of years. On the other hand, Hollywood was experimenting with a variety of sci-fi themes from intergalactic wars to the invasion of Earth by Martians.

It took a good many years before Shekhar Kapur (again) decided to break the deadlock and make a film called 'Time Machine' about a decade back. But the project never took off.

Finally, Rakesh Roshan introduced us to a desi version of ET in Koi Mil Gaya in which an extra-terrestrial comes to Earth and gives special powers to the under-developed son ( Hrithik Roshan ) of a scientist.

The theme was carried forward in the film's sequel Krrish even though the movie dwelt less on sci-fi and more on the superhuman antics of the protagonist. The only sci-fi bit was a special machine that enabled the movie's villain, a megalomaniac scientist, to see the future.

Now, just around the corner is Love Story 2050 , a futuristic love story and India's first time travel film set in Mumbai forty-two years from now. In the movie, the protagonists ( Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra ) travel into the future through a special time machine invented by an eccentric scientist ( Boman Irani ). The futuristic Mumbai in the film has flying cars, 200-story skyscrapers, skyrails and personal robots.

Even as it still remains to be seen how authentic a sci-fi film 'Love Story 2050' turns out to be, the future of the genre looks promising in Bollywood.

For one, south director Shankar is all geared up to make a big budget sci-fi thriller Robot with Aishwarya Rai and Rajnikant . Secondly, a technically proficient director like Shirish Kunder plans to produce and direct a sci-fi flick. And lastly, Shekhar Kapur is said to be thinking of reviving his shelved 'Time Machine'.

We only need to fasten our seat belts.

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