Are you are familiar with how Superman got his powers from Hanuman and got revenge on three evil cowboys? If so, then you know all about the Telugu language Superman! Everyone else, read on to be amazed! This Telugu cinema borrows from the Western Superman but manages to also follow the revenge films popular at the time.
This is by far not the only Indian take on Superman. It isn’t even the most famous. That honor goes to the 1987 Hindi version of Superman that is generally considered the Indian Superman. That production even lifts scenes directly from the original 1978 film. But that was the FOURTH Indian Superman (This one is generally called Telugu Superman and is the third made) as there were two Superman films in the 1960s, Superman (directed by Mohammed Hussain and starring Jairaj and Nirupa Roy and there is no good information online about this film besides that) and Return of Mr. Superman which started out as another Superman film but got its title and concept altered slightly because the director was friends with the director of Superman. This title is available on VCD and we got a copy! There is also another film Dariya Dil that has a song and dance number where a character wears a Superman costume, but as that is the extent of the superhero antics it is not a true Indian Superman film.
You must learn about the Tollywood film industry – the Telugu film industry, also known as Cinema of Andhra Pradesh, is the Southern Indian film industry. The main language is Telugu, hence the name (There is also a Tollywood nickname for Tamil cinema, but that is a whole different beast.) The Telugu film industry is believed to be the most prolific film producing industry currently (several other regions have also claimed that)
NTR is the man! Rama Nandamuri Taraka Rao is what you get when you combine Elvis, Jackie Chan, James Bond, Cunyet Arkin, and John Wayne. Only ANR (Akkineni Nageswara Rao) even approaches him in popularity. NTR entered film in 1949, and eventually found fame in dozens and dozens of mythological films produced by the southern Indian film industry at that time. It is hard to even look up information about NTR without running into dozens of pictures of him in mythological garb. NTR starred in over 280 films, not counting the ones he wasn’t the main character in. NTR became a director and producer later, and eventually a politician.
Unhappy with the current government of his own state and the corrupt party ruling it, NTR became the founder of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and served as Chief Minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh. India has a parliamentary system like Britain, so keep that in mind when you read the political things that happened. He served on full term, then when he was out of the country for open heart surgery one of his aides caused him to lose power, but the chaos caused no political mandate in the assembly, forcing the Indian government to appoint a new minister, who handed power back to NTR after a month’s time and NTR called for new elections. He served on for a second term, but after suffering a stroke he was unable to run for reelection on a third term and lost out on office for five years, until he was sufficiently recovered and ran again, getting elected minister for a third time in 1994. The TDP party encountered more turmoil in 1995 where it effectively shut NTR out, and NTR reformed a new TDP party but died in 1996 before any new action could take place. The TDP party continues to exist to this day as the most powerful regional party in India. NTR introduced many reform acts for common people, including equal inheritance rights for daughters, as well as price controls on rice for poor families and taking on corrupt officials.
NTR had seven sons and four daughters across two wives, his son Nandamuri Balakrishna is considered another great Telugu actor and his grandson N. T. Rama Rao Jr. is a current young superstar in Telugu cinema, although he is criticized for imitating his grandfather too often.
An NTR-only website could stay in business for years reviewing his films. Recently, scores of classic Telugu cinema has hit DVDs, to the point where the market is flooded and you can find old classics all over the place for cheap. So you have no excuse not to be able to see an NTR film. But please read this review first, so that way you don’t leave us mid-article! This presentation is in Telugu with no subtitles, but we don’t need no stinking subs!
Raja’s family is in a cave that is shrine to Hanuman the monkey god guy, there is a big statue of the monkey god (that actually doesn’t look much like him, but whatever) Back at their house, the family is preparing an offering of valuable gems for Hanuman. Things are much too happy for their own good until three crazy cowboy robbers stroll in to the house, shoot dad, grab the loot, and shoot mom when she smacks one of them. All of this happens in front of young Raja. The cowboys also shoot the Hanuman priest who was at the home because I think he is Raja’s uncle.
Raja goes to pray before the statue of Hanuman, his praying is shown to us in song form. Raja stabs himself in the stomach (?!?) and blood splatters on Hanuman. Hanuman statue then starts flashing as he comes to life. Hanuman is HUGE! And he looks nothing like the goofy statue. Giant Hanuman picks up the tiny child, and breathes a beam of light onto him, then puts him back down. Raja is now healed, and Hanuman disappears. Raja has been given super strength, and the power to toss cobras! His skin resists cobra bites, and injection needles. Thus he is now Superman! Begin titles!
The Superman theme plays. Not that Superman theme, the Telugu Superman theme! It will play every time Superman does stuff, so you can download it here and jam along as Telugu Superman continues.
Raja is now a grown man, he grew up to be NTR to be exact. Raja stumbles across an older couple tied up by the side of the road. Their daughter and son were kidnapped by rapists in a van/school bus-ish vehicle (I don’t know how to describe it) and the goons are trying to rape the girl (and the son also maybe? I am not sure) in the back while a presumed third rapist is behind the wheel missing out on all the action. Superman Raja gets in his tiny car and drives after him.
No flying? Bus rapists aren’t a big enough emergency to fly over?
The rapers pause their raping to pour a bucket of gasoline out the back window, then light a match. This sets the road on fire. Raja stops the car instead of just driving off the road around the mess. Raja steps out of the car AND IS SUDDENLY SUPRMAN!!!!! Superman flies over the flames..well, his doll does! Then he flies to the van/bus and beats the crap out of the rapists, who all get on the roof to fight him. You see that, Matrix Reloaded stole everything from this movie! Superman wins (who doubted it) and return the kids.
Raja still lives with his aunt that took care of him after his parents were killed, and she is proud of him and she is also proud of her daughter, Lakshmi. Meanwhile, there is a whiny super-rich guy with a cane, and he has a hot young daughter named Jaya and several scrawny helpers. Raja is friends with him and comes over. This whiny rich guy will be throughout the movie but seems to serve no purpose except comic relief. So get relieved, bubs!
Raja gets a job as a dump truck driver, but on his assignment he spots a van filled with people speeding way fast (no one is buckled in) and about to crash off the side of a mountain. Superman saves the day by flying in front of the van (eventually, after flying over it) and holds it back.
Dance time! A random party in the forest and Raja is invited. Jaya is there, Raja is there dressed all in white disco suit, she sings, they dance, it is very 1970s even though they just hit the 1980s. Raja sings and impresses her with his charm because he is NTR. She is pretty much helpless before him. Whiny Rich Guy gets a special delivery- a rock. Is it kryptonite? No, it is never seen again, whatever it was.
There is some subplot involving forest rangers and Evil Cowboy I in a command center who commands elephants (which are numbered for our convenience) that attack forest rangers in a jeep. Evil Cowboy I reports in to Evil Cowboy III, who is behind this who operation. There is also some crazy cult people with pikes with skulls on them stab various random people. Evil Cowboy II is involved in this action. Basically, we got a lot of evil cowboy subplots.
Superman beats up two guys who were trying to rob a train, and catches the bullet one shoots at him (this Superman is bulletproof, so that’s good) and takes it to an gun dealer, who says it is a specially made bullet, but won’t reveal who it was made for. So Raja pulls a gun on him! He talks. Never trust a gun dealer! Raja goes to the house (let’s note that we see a girl in a bra and undies here) and is promptly held at gunpoint by the female occupant. He throws her on the bed and starts to shake her, demanding answers while she begs. She tells him to hush, as there are microphones in the house (at this point he has the gun trained on her.) She’s then shot by an midget assassin who lives in her cupboard! And Raja somehow failed to notice the midget assassin, so he leaves. Who did he think shot her, the guy on the grassy knoll?
Elephants are sent to attack Raja, he becomes Superman and starts to beat up the helpless elephants. I side with the elephants, but all of them are beaten. These poor beasts are just being mind controlled! Superman then beats down a bunch of assassins, then leaps through the window into the elephant control room. Superman recognizes the elephant control guy as one of the three evil cowboys, and demands to know who the other two are. Evil Cowboy I then runs, so Superman sends the elephants to kill Evil Cowboy I. He is smashed by elephants, and Evil Cowboy III is upset. Superman murders by elephants, huh?
Another SONG BREAK as Raja dances with Jaya and they sing. They are in love and stuff, perhaps you have heard of love? I hear they made a few movies about it. Trouble at home as the aunt slaps the crap out of her daughter and both of them are crying. Raja comes in and is all “WTF? Didn’t you hear me sing?” He helps them cope, but the fact is Lakshmi wants to get married to a guy. Who just happens to be the son of Evil Cowboy III! Except Raja doesn’t know that yet.
Two idiots on bikes (who work for Whiny Rich Guy) wander into the territory controlled by the death cult, and are soon made slaves. Slaves working a mine. A mine on the property of Raja’s boss, the Whiny Rich Guy. Who is totally unaware of the slave mine. Until it gets to be too noisy. Jaya calls Raja, then her and her father Whiny Rich Guy are captured. Raja arrives to find an empty house. Outside, he fights a bunch of cult dudes. The guy in charge of the cult is Evil Cowboy II, he now has crazy hair and a tower with a laser dish on the top that fires silent laser blasts that burn trees. When he fires it at the tied up Jaya, Superman finally dresses as Superman and jumps on the way to take the blast. It does nothing to him, and then he crashes into the dish and destroys it. Superman fights Evil Cowboy II, recognizes him as one of the Evil Cowboys, so Superman kills him!
Superman is a stone cold killer!
Jaya now knows that Raja is Superman, but she will keep his secret, though she wants a ride in the clouds. She gets it and we get a musical number performed in front of a blue screen!
Raja meets the father of the guy who wants to marry his cousin, but doesn’t recognize him as the final Evil Cowboy. It is wedding time, but Evil Cowboy III has his son kidnapped and Raja finds only empty rooms. The news causes Auntie to faint, and the cousin Lakshmi tries to leap off the top of the hotel, but luckily Superman saves her (to the tune of the Superman song, which is surprisingly upbeat compared to the serious suicide tone.
Raja vows he will get that guy.
Evil Cowboy III ran to Singapore. Raja goes there, gets to a hotel, asks some questions and gets a room. He is observed by a woman dressed sort of like a Viking Wonder Woman named Miss Lee. Miss Lee quickly reports to Evil Cowboy III. He sends two fat guys in bright red diapers and turbans, their bodies painted black all over, with small black axes, to kill Raja at night. But Raja kills them! Then he calls for room service to clean his room! Superman is all about passing the buck along to the working man!
Evil Cowboy III changes tactics, and instead will send Miss Lee to go seduce Raja. Miss Lee has the power to command keys to fly over to her! She shows Raja to his new room (I guess the blood stains on the carpet were too much for him to deal with) and he shuts the door on her, but she just walks through the wall to get back in the room! Miss Lee fails to seduce him.
Evil Cowboy III’s new plan is to poison Superman. He demonstrates the poison by telling the 14 year old Singapore boy who was just standing around in his room (I don’t want to know) to open his mouth (I really don’t want to know!) The kid does, the poison is put in, and the kid instantly dies and his face is painted black. Truly terrible poison.
MUSICAL BREAK – dancers show up where Raja is eating at the hotel restaurant/nightclub place. This gives an excuse to have Raja and Miss Lee running around Singapore for part of the musical number, thus showing off the sights of the city.
After the dance, we see that Evil Cowboy III now runs a casino here, and Raja has come for some high stakes gambling. They try to poison him at this point, but it has no effect, so Raja goes to gamble. Instead of gambling, Raja is having an eight-woman massage in his room. Is this the new eight-card stud? Raja goes to sleep and dreams he is in a karate tournament. Their karate is good, but Raja is NTR, so he karates them all.
Whiny Rich Guy and his two scrawny servants are beaten by some other guys for some reason I don’t know, so he sends Jaya to Singapore to go get Raja to beat up these thugs. Raja gives Jaya a walkie-talkie that the two can use to communicate while they are separate, and they do and thus we start the next MUSICAL INTERLUDE…more dancing around parts of Singapore.
Mehar goes to meet Evil Cowboy III. Mehar doesn’t agree to Evil Cowboy III’s terms, so Evil Cowboy III breaks out his army of karate women! This scene would have been cool had it went anywhere.
Jaya is visiting Raja, but he hides her in the bathroom when Miss Lee comes over, and Miss Lee starts to put the moves on Raja, including stripping out of her outfit into a formal dress. Raja’s like “Babe, I’m NTR, you can’t resist me, but don’t worry about it. Just go on home.” After she leaves, Jaya is upset, with good reason.
Evil Cowboy III’s son is upset at his dad for the whole wedding thing, but dad is like “So?” Raja bursts in, smacks Evil Cowboy III so hard his fake goatee falls off. This reveals a scar on his chin that Raja remembers was given by his mom to one of the Evil Cowboys! Yes, the final evil cowboy has been found! Fight time!
Evil Cowboy III threatens to kill his own son, then sets off a smoke bomb and escapes with his son as a hostage. Miss Lee threatens Jaya somehow with a hypnotized black cat that Jaya follows, but then nothing happens. Raja rejects Miss Lee again, so she starts singing MUSICAL INTERLUDE. Raja rejects her singing, and is soon singing with Jaya!
For some reason one of the sets they are dancing in is a cave filled with skeletons, but then Raja knocks Jaya down, he hasn’t become abusive, he just knows it is really Miss Lee is disguise! Miss Lee tries to smash him with stone pillars, but he just becomes Superman and pushes them away. Then she slices her arm, dropping blood on the ground. This causes some reject from Shaitani Dracula to come out of the ground and fight Superman. It is some guy with a rubber mask!
The monster slaps Superman around some.
Okay, a LOT. Seriously.
Superman gets scratched up, but then Hanuman makes him even stronger so he can fight back! Superman tells the monster to attack Miss Lee instead, so it goes after her and drags her to hell! Take that, women! Superman fights some flaming balls, then bursts in where Evil Cowboy III is trying to choke Jaya. Superman is all “My name is Superman. You killed my parents. Prepare to die!” Then Superman just breaks his neck in cold blood.
Cheers for executioner Superman, I guess.
The marriage between Lakshmi and Son of Evil Cowboy III happens, the end!
Rated 8/10 (Hanuman of the rising sun, Cupboard midget, Death!, poison pill guy, horse painting, son of Evil Cowboy III, Scar, Skeleton city)