Lego Batman Movie: 10 Indian Elementsby KARTIKEYA KUMAR February 21, 2017
The Lego Batman Movie turned out to be a great cinematic experience for me. Though the storyline of The Lego Batman Movie was not as unique as Inside Out (2015), the movie was still crisp enough, and had many reasons to smile about. Talking of the Bio angle, just forget it – no one’s listening to Barbara’s calls for ethics – at least Batman and Joker aren’t.
But what struck me the most was how the movie, at many points, reminded me of Hindi movies and Indian culture. To me, the Lego Batman Movie was as desi as any Bollywood masala entertainer. The following are a few such elements that I found pretty Bollywood-like:
- The family angle: Bruce’s (Batman’s) butler Alfred convinces him to adopt Dick (that’s Robin’s original name). When Bruce disagrees, Alfred decides to lock his computer, and throughout the movie, plays father figure to Bruce. Bruce also develops a fatherly love towards Dick, but does not want to confess this. He is after all, afraid of being part of a family after his dreadful past. Progressively, it is evident that Bruce’s emotions are not singularly restricted to rage, especially when he is on the verge of losing his adoptive dad and forcefully adopted son. Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) and even Sooryavansham (1999) face stiff competition in terms of family melodrama from this movie.
- The modern day bollywood hero: Bruce, who admits being a playboy, falls in love at first sight with Barbara – the new commissioner of the city. But his commitment-phobic nature is repeatedly on display. A classic dialogue is when Bruce aka Batman asks for a knife ‘to cut the tension between him and Barbara’. Imagine reusing that dialogue in a Hindi film sequence: ‘Mujhe ek chaku chahiye…uss tanaav ko katne ke liye jo hum dono ke darmiyan hain’. Ranveer Singh from Band Baja Baraat (2010) or Ranbir from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2013), anyone?
- Teri nafrat, teri dosti: Joker’s ego is hurt when he learns that Batman is commitment-phobic, to the extent that he doesn’t consider his rivalry with Joker as anything. That is the main reason which makes Joker create such a havoc. In the climax, Batman finally admits to Joker that he is the reason for the fire in Bat’s belly. Joker is so touched, he suddenly turns from an evil to the saint. This reminded me of the cult cliffhanger (I mean, literally) from Anjaam (1994), wherein Madhuri tells SRK’s character that her survival isn’t as important as his death. In this case the Anjaam (consequence) is different, because there is a difference between the magnitude of heartlessness of Joker and Madhuri’s character.
- Masala Blockbuster: The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t feature Salman Khan or Ajay Devgan (or Varun Dhawan, these days), but it does have the effects and all other elements of a masala blockbuster. Yes, that same old golden formula that results in multiple 100-crore collections for Indian movies – that love angle, one-liners, and a lot of action. A long and near-predictable climax too.
- Music: OK, so music is not something that’s not expected in a Hollywood animation. But the syrupy number ‘Friends are Family’ that plays in the end credits, sure reminds you of Farah Khan-style endings, especially ‘Yeh Fizaein’ from Main Hoon Na (2004), and more recently ‘Tukur Tukur’ from Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale (2015).
- GandhiJi’s mention: If Hindi filmmakers have the right to make money out of GandhiJi’s quotations, Hollywood should not be deprived of it. After all, Gandhi is an international phenomenon, and a movie on Gandhi (released in 1982) won 8 Academy awards. Bruce, who uses Dick’s innocence and vulnerability towards his adopted father to get an impossible task done, adds ‘To right a wrong, do a wrong right’ and credits the line to Gandhi. Some people might have been (or soon will be) offended by it, but the truth is that everything Gandhi said, turned into a quotation. So whenever you have your own quotation, and want a great leader to take responsibility, leave it to Gandhi.
- Victory of good over the evil: Well, not only does that remind you about the essence of Indian festival Dussehra. The teaming up spirit reminded me of Lagaan (2001), the Academy-Award nominated Indian movie where amateur Indian cricketers battle against a professional British side. One of the songs in that movie had a line ‘paanchon mili toh ban gayi mutthi’, which means that all the five fingers make a fist. This is significant as the protagonist realizes that even he, the mighty Batman can do his best when he is a part of a team. The situation where Batman eventually teams up with Joker’s Nemesis, reminds me of many Bollywood (and Hollywood) movies where a bunch of losers team up for a mission, such as Happy New Year (2014).
- The Janmashtami Matki: There’s a critical moment in the climax where the good guys need to stick together to save Gotham City. Being Lego (don’t forget, it’s Lego Batman) helps stick one’s head to another one’s toes, but to provide further support, the other Lego characters encircle Batman and his friends. This reminded me of Matki Phod, an Indian custom that takes place during Janmashtami, where the participants form circles and pyramids to break an earthen pot.
- Taking prisoner’s help to fight the culprit: Well, Batman would be the last person you’d imprison, but Barbara finally took the help of Batman and Robin, who were both in prison at that time. This reminded me of Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay (1975) and Subhash Ghai’s Karma (1986). The Gabbar/Dr. Dang in this case is Joker (and Voldermort, and all other villains who ever were).
- Phyllis: If you’ve seen Hindi movies that feature the vamp with a heart of gold – Sonika Gill from Ram Lakhan (1989), Aruna Irani from Caravan (1971) or Sonali Bendre from Duplicate (1998), you have their counterpart in Phyllis in this case. The only difference is that she’s never bad or evil to be called a vamp; in fact she’s neutral, but her rational judgement in the end makes you think she’s human after all.
If you love Lego or Batman, you’d love to buy Lego goodies for the kid’s corner in your house.
Please add your inputs in the comments section, if you stumbled upon any Desi element in The Lego Batman Movie.