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A review by Tiffany Ng

Supermen of Malegaon

One man’s dream of film making becomes an impoverished town’s reality of hope for a better life. In Malegaon, film makers are considered heroes.

Not so much for the films they create, but I think, really, for the amount of effort and hardwork they put in just to create a film.

If you think that some films here survive on a shoe-string budget, maybe you should think again and watch Supermen of Malegaon. You might even learn a thing or two from them.

Director Faiza Ahmad Khan has set this documentary on a different tone. Think, Salonpas on an aching back. The moments of despondency are balanced with a sense of comic relief from the crazy and riduculous things they do to make a film.

Supermen of Malegaon follows a man of simple means, Shaikh Nasir, through his arduous filming process of a parody of the ever popular movie, Superman.

Nasir represents one of the many hopefuls who have dreams of becoming a famous filmmaker. Apart from him, his cast consists of one hero, one villain, one damsel in distress and plenty of calefares.

The crew is pretty much similar to a person wanting to make a home video. The role of the director, DoP, producer, music creator and editor is performed by one person – Nasir. Together with three or four of his scriptwriters (I lost track along the way), they turn their story into reality.

Despite its comedic angle, Supermen of Malegaon raises issues of poverty and traditional practices in Malegaon, and how film makers cope with them. I am inspired by their creativity despite their frugal existence, which makes me ponder: if we are so much more privileged than them, perhaps we are able to do more when we put our hearts and minds to it.

One aspect that the Supermen of Malegaon brings out is self-education. Without a solid education system over there, many things are self-taught. For Nasir, experience and curiousity were his teachers. But more importantly is being able to find the flower among the ruins and hang on to the hope it brings. That will determine if you succeed or fail.

Mollywood creates meaning to the Malegaoneans’ mundane life. Films are their only source of entertainment and every Friday evening, throngs of workers would clamour at the doors of the cinemas, or video parlours as they call it, waiting impatiently to catch their next film.

This eager anticipation of the week’s end is what the film describes as “trading reality for a fantasy”. And if you think about it, the success of Hollywood films is precisely that. For two hours, Hollywood films transport you away from reality into an ideal and surreal world in which fantasies are live out.

Supermen of Malegaon is an eye-opener at how inventive and passionate people can get despite being of little means and it brings a whole new meaning about film making for me.

Supermen of Malegaon premieres at Sinema Old School on the 29th of May 2009. Tickets are priced at $15 each (inclusive of Talkback with director Faiza Ahmad Khan). For booking and enquiries, call us at 6336 9707.

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