Documentaries don’t carry the based-on-a-true-story tag for obvious reasons. In a similar way, they usually don’t intend to make us laugh. After all, most of them deal with grim topics leaving little space for humour. To make matters worse, very few amongst them get to hit the theatres and have an even ground. At least that’s the case in our country when it comes to this particular genre. Against these established precedents of inconvenient truth, Faiza Ahmed Khan’s debut project takes a rather different route. And how!
When a film is made about another film, it becomes quite difficult to separate the two. That’s precisely what happens with Supermen of Malegaon (SOM). Set in the powerloom city, 296 km northeast of Mumbai, it tracks the making of a low-budget spoof titled Malegaon Ka Superman. In the journey that follows, we are introduced to some really intriguing characters who are hilariously passionate about cinema.
We meet a ‘filmmaker’ who may have a plagiarised vision about filmmaking but he brings something new to the table (or screen, technically speaking). Then, there is this boney guy who is portraying the superhero and wishes to be like Amitabh Bachchan someday. Not to forget the one who’s ready to sacrifice his beloved locks to play the bald negative role. And there are many more.
Almost everybody in this documentary appears stuck in a past we can still relate to. If their approach towards the project they’ve undertaken seems sub-standard, it isn’t their fault. Despite lacking the basic amenities required to make a movie, their collective spirit to get things done is inspirational—to say the least. Besides, their sole objective is to locate the audience’s funny bone and tickle it. Something they do exceptionally well. And while they are it, we get a peek into the world they inhabit.
SOM could have been tad preachy since poverty, illiteracy and communalism gang up pretty often. Fortunately, it isn’t. To manifest this solemn point, a satirical yet beautiful Urdu poem is rendered right in the middle of the hour-long runtime. Likewise, pragmatic philosophy is served with dollops of innocent wit. It merely gets better with every passing frame.
There’s only one thing wrong with this unpretentious film. It ends way too early.