'Supermen of Malegaon' Kicks Off 3rd I South Asian Film Fest Tonight

November 5, 2009


Director Faiza Ahmad Khan's behind-the-scenes documentary, Supermen of Malegaon, shows us DIY superpowers as she follows a ragtag group of amateur filmmakers in the titular textile town of Malegaon, India.

Led by Malegaon native Shaikh Nasir, the patchwork film crew produce a hyper-localized parody of a Superman flick. In their spirited, low-budget version, Superman dances about in blue flip-flops with bright red socks, has a 24-inch waist and often is the one in need of rescue whenever he encounters water.

Supermen of Malegaon is a montage of charming surprises. Nasir and his local talent improvise their own Hollywood resources, draping green cloth over a cargo truck for a green screen and using a bicycle in lieu of a dolly. The video editor, also the sound producer, sacrifices a full head of hair to fit an acting role as Superman's nemesis. The die-hard crew suffers production setbacks when Nasir accidentally dunks his only hand-held video camera in a river and his leading actor announces his last-minute wedding.

At the backdrop of all the excitement, Khan reveals a group of industrious men who also dream. Some want to escape the poverty of Malegaon, to move on to do major movies. Others, like Nasir, vow never to leave Malegaon as they strive to bring laughter and happiness to the locals through film. Yet all seem to share the same zeal for the art of filmmaking and the unlimited resource of human imagination.

Superman of Malegaon will be screened tonight at 7:15 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, a worthy opener for the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival.