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The outer space is the limit! Sci-fi grips Indian filmmakers’ imagination

Bollywood and regional language filmmakers have fired the booster rockets in their exploration of the sci-fi genre, as newer revenue channels — and A-list cast members — make these ventures viable.

bollywood Updated: Jan 27, 2018 19:39 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
Shah Rukh khan,Akshay Kumar,Rajinikanth
2.0 is among the most awaited Indian films this year. Akshay Kumar (above) plays the antagonist.

Indian mainstream cinema has often been criticised for being stuck in that rut of overly mushy, melodramatic, and hypersexualised films. But of late — at a time when films on varied subjects have been doing much better than predictable potboilers — sci-fi (science fiction) has emerged as exciting category. Films in the genre are being fronted by superstars such as Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar (and perhaps even Shah Rukh Khan).

The reason why sci-fi has not been explored much in India might have something to do with the high cost and resultant risk. Such films invariably have to be mounted on a large scale, with loads of special effects, which means a lot of money has to be pumped in. While we had brushes with sci-fi subjects in Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and PK (2014) — both were about aliens coming to Earth — full-fledged films have been almost non-existent.

2.0 stars Akshay Kumar as the antagonist. Rajinikanth reprises his role as a robot from Enthiran (2010).

However, that’s set to change. A slew of Hindi and regional films in the making have sci-fi subjects. There’s 2.0 (starring Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth), the sequel to the 2010 film Enthiran, which had a humanoid robot as the protagonist. It is set to release on April 14 this year. Cargo is another sci-fi film (starring Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi).Then there are films set in the outer space, too.

The Tamil film, Tik Tik Tik, is said to be the ‘first Indian space film’.

The Tamil film, Tik Tik Tik, whose release date has been pushed back, is said to be India’s first space film. Then, Sushant Singh Rajput will portray the role of an astronaut in Chanda Mama Door Ke, the shooting for which has apparently been put on hold, speculated to be because of the mounting costs.

Anubhav Sinha, who had directed the 2011 film Ra.One, about video game characters coming to life, says, “Sci-fi is an unexplored space in India, and there’s a lot of intrigue around subjects such as outer space. Filmmakers today are getting comfortable with technology, and there’s a certain degree of confidence about what one can visualise and create.”

“A lot of people have been wanting to (make such films), but the economy doesn’t work out. I wouldn’t have been able to make a film like Ra.One without Shah Rukh Khan (actor and producer of the film),” adds Anubhav.

Sushant Singh Rajput stars in the film Chanda Mama Door Ke, which has apparently been ‘put on hold’.

Trade expert Atul Mohan jokes, “We have explored everything, ab Mars aur Moon pe jaake film banani padhegi (we’ll have to go and base our films on Mars and the Moon!).” On a serious note, he says, “The audience wants something different, stuff that has never been seen before.”

Even actors want to push themselves to the limit. Akshay Kumar, who plays the antagonist in 2.0, had earlier said, “I’ve never done a role like this in my entire career, and I’ve never seen anyone doing a character like this. It was a whole new experience to play an anti-hero.”

Rumour mills have been working overtime ever since reports emerged about Shah Rukh Khan playing the role of astronaut Rakesh Sharma.

There has also been strong buzz about Shah Rukh Khan stepping into the role of astronaut Rakesh Sharma in his biopic, earlier slated to star Aamir Khan.

Explaining the economics, trade analyst Komal Nahta says, “Satellite and digital (mediums) have opened up huge avenues, and they sometimes pay more than half the cost. Producers are willing to bankroll such (expensive) films now.”

Interact with the author at Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 19:39 IST