Has there been any Hollywood movie that has influenced so many Indian filmmakers within a short while than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight? Maybe it is about the obsession with creating an antagonist.
Oh but I’m only thinking out loud, but it could really be the next on the ‘movies-we-look-up to-for-immediate-inspiration’ after Coppola’s The Godfather.
But the Batman and Joker are already part of larger conscious because of decades of multimodal existence, making it easier for writers to evoke invested past strands and bring to life the characters; it is not the same case in a Telugu-Tamil bilingual; a genre where a master in the culinary arts would not feel out of place.
Such movies are not called masala for nothing.
The Dark Knight is a (dark) blockbuster superhero movie, the near equivalent from what we have is the south Indian mass masala. While some of it can be considered as comic, but here the word does not refer to periodicals out of which characters leap out of.
Mass masala by itself depends much on its leading man and the story gives into him. By that very statement it means that these films are meant to work only for those who buy into the charms (or lack-of) of the star.
Which means that for the most part the writer-directors are restricted in their choice of ingredients, sometimes they have to make do with just one condiment, more often than not trick the audience by throwing garam masala in our eyes.
AR Murugadoss seems to, in my eyes at least an expert chef who can find different uses for the same ingredient.
(I am really overdoing this samayal-cinema analogy, must come to the point before things get over cooked)
Under The Influence
I believe more than the act of being inspired by another work, it is more important to know why that particular inspirational moment worked and think before replicating it.
Spyder’s hero does what Batman wanted Lucius Fox to do, listen in on people; while the ethical ramifications of spying are superficially dealt, they provide a convincing motivation for the lead; to prevent crime before it happens.
Yes, this could be the pre-crime from Minority Report but it could also be the inversion that is seen in ARM films like making a Vijaykanth film without making a Vijaykanth film?
The hero becomes a mass hero as a reaction to personal tragedies or societal atrocities, but can he/she really still be called a hero by preventing events from happening and not let the world know?
But it isn’t really an inversion unless you follow through with the act of an unseen hero, ultimately compulsions prevail and there is a love track and so there must be songs and an overblown climactic fight which makes you forget the questions that the film tried to raise earlier.
Especially notable is when Madan Karky rhymes mosam with awesome and concludes love is eternal much like plastic.
But Spyder is still somewhere there and even these commercial elements are not without joy.
Who Wants To Be A Hero?
Earlier in the Spyder, a scene made me reflect on an underlying theme in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, that every person is capable of heroism, Bruce obviously states this in the concluding chapter but there are enough visual examples.
The way the common folk are involved in the events that happen to the city, not just as observers but as active participants, they are not alienated in the good vs. evil battle nor are they just used as bait for the hero to rescue.
In Spyder’s best segment which lasts about 20 minutes, has nothing to do with Mahesh Babu or the antagonist S J Suryah, but about common people (middle aged ladies in this case) finding courage to do what they would not normally do and lend a helping hand beyond possible imagination.
It worked totally for me and convinced that this involvement of the nameless with whom we can identify, add to how we receive a film.
Yes yes, S J Suryah character and how he seems to have played it tries to match Heath Ledger’s Joker in every step, but then there is more to the Dark Knight trilogy.
Only if we choose to see, hence for your consideration.