Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ is not just one of the best shows about superheroes but it also makes for a great case study in subversion of all the best-known tropes associated with the superhero genre. How many superhero shows out there are focused on exploring how toxic our obsession is with them? ‘The Boys’ does a great job of critiquing the superhero culture as perpetuated by Marvel and DC but never at the cost of entertainment. It is never preachy and always very entertaining and full of whacky ideas. ‘The Boys’ is based on the comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. In its third season, the series spills even more blood (yes, you read it right!), unleashing hitherto unseen levels of gore, profanity, nudity and sex. Don’t believe me? Consider a scene in the season premiere wherein a superhero shrinks down and climbs inside another person’s body part and mistakenly blows it to smithereens.
The 2010s are widely regarded as the Marvel decade. But, a more accurate way to describe them is as the superhero decade. Interestingly, nobody was so sure about the future of superhero films about 10 years back. Remember, the first leg of the Spider-Man and the X-Men series had ended in 2007 and 2009, respectively. The future looked uncertain for both the franchises. The second leg of the Superman series never really got going after the mixed-bad response to the 2006 film ‘Superman Returns’. What Christopher Nolan achieved with ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) was seen more as a personal triumph of a director’s vision than a superhero genre breakthrough. It all changed with ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010) which catapulted the Nick Fury-led S.H.I.E.L.D to instant fame—two years after it was first introduced as part of ‘Iron Man’ (2008) during a post-credits scene. Following the release of ‘Iron Man 2,’ the Walt Disney Studios agreed to pay Paramount a whopping amount for the worldwide distribution rights to ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘The Avengers.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.
Soon, Hollywood was raining superheroes. As Marvel was putting together The Avengers, DC Comics started planning their Justice League lineup. Before we knew it, Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014) also came alive. The X-Men franchise too got a new lease of life with ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011). Next year, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ was released with a fresh cast and storyline. Subsequently, Zack Snyder delivered ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)—the first film of DC’s Superman reboot that was followed by the 2016 offering ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ In 2015, Marvel came out with ‘Ant-Man’ which was followed by ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ in 2018. In 2016, ‘Deadpool’ went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film at the time. It was followed by ‘Deadpool 2’ (2018). Soon the battle for female superhero supremacy started as DC came out with the hugely successful ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2017 and Marvel responded with an even bigger success in the form of ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019). 2018 also witnessed another superhero film Venom based on a character that appeared in ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007). All this proves why the 2010s are regarded as the superhero decade.
When the Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ premiered in July 2019, it took superhero film enthusiasts by storm. For, it offered something rarely seen in the genre: superheroes, popular as celebrities, influential as politicians, and revered as Gods, abusing their powers instead of using them for good. The Boys follows the eponymous team of vigilantes as they try to expose the Seven, Vought International’s premier superhero team led by the egotistical and megalomaniacal Homelander (menacingly portrayed by Antony Starr; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Superman). The Seven, among others, also features Queen Maeve (essayed by Dominique McElligott with equal parts brain and brawn; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Wonder Woman). The Boys, on the other hand, are led by Billy Butcher (brilliantly played by the uber-cool Karl Urban), a former CIA operative who despises all individuals with superpowers.
Following the success of the first season of ‘The Boys,’ the second season proved to be bigger and grander at so many levels. Firstly, the stakes were much higher. We had a few new characters with some incredible superpowers. On one hand, we had the enigmatic Stormfront, gifted with the unique ability to manipulate electricity along with many other powers. Although she joined the Seven as its newest member, her real intentions as well as her actual origins remained unknown (she was later revealed to be the first supe in the world who was once closely associated with the Nazi Party). Then, there was a mysterious new character gifted with the power to get anyone’s head to explode at will (who is shockingly revealed to be none other than Congresswomen Victoria Neuman). The second season of ‘The Boys’ also presented Black Noir in a new light. A-Train and The Deep again had solid character arcs this season. The character of Vought CEO Stan Edgar (chillingly essayed by Giancarlo Esposito) also came to the fore. The various arcs involving Homelander, Billy Butcher, Queen Maeve, Starlight, Hughie, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk, and Kimiko also got explored well.
In the new season also, we are presented with a very interesting mix of the old and the new characters. After his wife Becca’s death, Butcher is more obsessed than ever with killing Homelander (an increasingly menacing and creepy-looking Antony Starr). When Queen Maeve tells him about a past supe known as ‘Soldier Boy,’ Butcher leads an investigation to uncover the truth about his mysterious death. Maeve also gives him a few vials of a new serum developed by Vought that gives normal people superpowers for 24 hours. Given his intense hatred for all things supe, will he be able to wield it in order to take the fight to expose Vought?
‘The Boys’ has thus far lived up to its promise of being an irreverent, unapologetically sharp-witted, and no-holds-barred flip on the superhero genre. The third season takes us to ever darker places and the end doesn’t seem nigh.
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Celebrating India’s achievements at 75
As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, India has channeled her civilizational strengths and cultural diversity into a brand new shared future, and opportunities for achievement, progress, and prosperity for its billion-plus citizens. Here is a list of what we have achieved since 15 August 1947.
Indian Premier League (IPL)
Indian Premier League (IPL) is an Indian professional T20 cricket league established in 2008. Lalit Modi proposed the idea of IPL and superheaded the IPL effort. It was founded by the Board of Control of Cricket in India in 2007. It is usually held between March and May of every year. In a high-profile ceremony in New Delhi, the first season was slated in 2008. The first season of IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals, captained by Shane Warne. To date, there have been fifteen seasons of the IPL tournament. Moreover, there are 10 teams they are; Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders, Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams representing different Indian cities compete against each other. IPL is the most-attended cricket league in the world which revolutionized the game.
Success of Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has become the best-performing real-time ecosystem in the world with nearly 6 billion transactions a month. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India’s digital economy could create $1 trillion in economic value in 2025. Earlier on 11 April 2016, NPCI conducted a pilot launch with 21 member banks by Dr. Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, RBI at Mumbai. On 25 August 2016 onwards Banks started to upload their UPI-enabled Apps on the Google Play store. These are the top seven UPI apps used in India; Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, BHIM App, Amazon Pay, BHIMSBI Pay, and MobiKwik. Meanwhile, from 21 banks in April 2016, the total number of banks linked to the UPI platform as of Feb 2022 is 304.
Vaccination Drive of India
The ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive in India rolled out the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive. The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India was started on 16 January 2021 across 3006 vaccine centers in all its states and union territories. The vaccination drive in India has been initiated with two types of vaccines: Covishield and Covaxin, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. On the first day itself, 1,65,714 people were vaccinated and were administered to a sanitation worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. As of now, 2,08,25,13,831 vaccines have been administrated to the people. Earlier, on 30 January 2020, India reported its first case of COVID-19 in Kerala.
Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. The Mangalyaan was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh. For the launch Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 was used. Mangalyaan was the world’s cheapest mission to the red planet which cost just Rs 447.39 crore. “Unlike the Mars mission, which was a one-time project when cleared, the GSAT program envisages launching several more satellites. Therefore, the money saved from its launch is with Isro to be used for future satellites,” a senior official said. The spacecraft instruments which were used are Mars Color Camera, Lyman Alpha Photometer, Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer, and Methane Sensors for Mars.
Statue of Unity
The Statue of Unity is the World’s Tallest Monument and is the most prolific creator in recent times. The Statue of Unity is dedicated to one of India’s founding fathers, and the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with a height of 182 meters. It has been created as a tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’. The Statue of Unity is divided into 5 zones out of which 3 are accessible to the general public. It can accommodate 200 visitors at a time and location at a height of 153 meters. It is located at Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Kevadia, Gujarat.
The battle of freedom
In the path of achieving freedom, there have been several instances that let us hold our heads high. Every day had been a battle to expel the anarchist Britishers. Here is a list of the days that helped make August 15, 1947, happen.
The British Viceroy, Lord Curzon, with the aim of weakening the unity and curbing the Nationalist movement, devised a scheme to separate Bengal and reorganise the territorial distributions dividing the Hindus and Muslims in 1905. The “Boycott” resolution was adopted at a conference held at the Calcutta Town Hall on August 7, 1905, thus establishing the Swadeshi movement and bringing its previously fragmented leadership under one leadership. A hartal and a day of sorrow were called in Calcutta on October 16, 1905, the day the division came into effect. People observed a fast, and the kitchen hearth was left unlit. Hindus and Muslims tie Rakhis to each other to symbolise unity. It was successful and the partition had to be annulled.
Azad Hind Bharat
On December 30, 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose hoisted the Indian flag at the Gymkhana ground in Port Blair and declared the island to be independent when the entire nation was clutched under British rule. He further renamed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as Shaheed and Swaraj to mark the establishment of the Azad Hind Government, which also had its own currency and stamps. Upon raising the Azad Hind flag, Bose, the leader of the Azad Hind Provisional Government, also kept his word that the Indian National Army would be standing on Indian land by the end of 1943.
The peasants in the Champaran district of Bihar were made to endure unimaginable hardships when Europeans compelled them to plant indigo, a blue dye. They weren’t paid enough for the indigo, and they couldn’t cultivate the food they needed. Tired of the agony, the peasants turned to Gandhi. As Gandhi’s first Satyagraha movement in India, the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 is regarded as a pivotal uprising in the history of the Indian Independence Movement.
Civil Disobedience movement
Civil disobedience, also known as passive resistance, is the act of refusing to comply with the requests or orders of a government or occupying power without using force or other aggressive forms of resistance. Its typical goal is to pressure the government or occupying power into making concessions. On April 6, 1930, M.K. Gandhi started the Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking the government’s salt law by picking up a handful of salt after finishing the illustrious “Dandi March” from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi. He served as the movement’s inspiration and helped to mobilise the population in the liberation battle. Due to the disregard for the salt law, the Civil Disobedience Movement expanded across the nation.
Quit India Movement
August Kranti or the August Movement are other names for the Quit India movement. Mahatma Gandhi began the “do or die” Bharat Chhodo Andolan, often known as the Quit India movement, on August 8, 1942. All of the Congress Working Committee members began to be arrested on August 9 as soon as the movement began. While being placed under house imprisonment, Mahatma Gandhi was brought to Ahmednagar Fort. Approximately 940 persons lost their lives as a result of the British’s harshness during this nonviolent campaign. There were also 1630 injuries. More than 60 000 activists were detained at the same time. However, this movement brought the nation together.
‘We Women Want’: Fitness on agenda
Clinical nutritionist Dr Ishi Khosla, Fitness Expert Vesna Jacob and Dr Rita Punhani IVF Specialist of Indira IVF appeared on ‘We Women Want’ to discuss fitness tips and bust some diet myths.
The panel stressed that it is important to monitor what you eat but also the timing of the meal. Diet such as intermittent fasting and Ketos were discussed with their pros and cons. An important point was also made regarding fitness that its best to exercise when you can even if its for ten minutes and not wait for the half hour – forty minute slot for a warm up. For as Vesna Jacob said our body is primed to be active, the primitive man did not see a tiger and then say wait let me first warm up before I defend myself. Dr Punhani pointed out how a good diet is essential for a woman’s health in various stages of her life from maturity to motherhood to menopause while Dr Khosla talked of the importance of gut health. The show was moderated by Priya Sahgal, Senior Executive Editor ITV Network.
Catch fresh episodes of ‘We Women Want’ every Saturday at 7:30 PM on NewsX. The program will also streamed live on major OTT platforms- Dailyhunt, Zee5, MX Player, ShemarooMe, Watcho, Mzaalo, Jio TV, Tata Play and PayTm livestreams.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
When we reach our late twenties and early thirties and realise how much we miss good television, we tend to go down the nostalgic path. Growing up, with summer vacations lasting a full month and shorter school days, picking a show to watch was perhaps the most challenging assignment. Our TV schedules were quite set, and included everything from Disney cartoons to Indian comedy. This edition includes a chart of five programmes we watched over and over again as children and would gladly reserve time in our work calendars to watch.
TOM AND JERRY
Everyone has heard of “Tom and Jerry”, the only well-known programme where a mouse routinely outwits and humiliates a cat ten times its size. Tom and Jerry had the most straightforward stories, but you never lost interest in them because they were so humorous and snarky. You were eager to learn what new scheme Tom had in mind and how Jerry was going to thwart it. Even though the show ran under a different name and with different studios in each decade, Tom and Jerry continued to air in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and even the 2000s.
For a generation raised during the Pogo and Nickelodeon periods, watching “Takeshi’s Castle” meant seeing people fall into mud puddles. This programme will return in more than 240 markets in 2023 thanks to Amazon Prime. Takeshi’s Castle, an Indian adaptation of a Japanese programme, became well-known for its entertaining chores and Jaaved Jaffrey’s hilarious commentary.
COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG
The majority of cartoons from the early 2000s were often highly joyful and heartwarming. However, “Courage the Cowardly Dog” was a show about scary monsters that looked like they could be straight out of some Steven King book or an old horror movie. It wasn’t really the most kid-friendly show, but it had to be one of, if not the all-time popular cartoon of the 2000s.
How we wished we were three magicians who lived in a house where they could make anything happen. For us, that was “Shararat”. This childhood show was almost like a fantasy world for Indian children—a mansion with three generations of magicians living in “Muggleland.” Therefore, we had this tiny region of Indian magicians long before the world had Harry Potter and the country of Hogwarts. It was seasoned with sweetness, spice, and just the proper amount of vice.
Everyone who was born after the 1960s has seen “Scooby-Doo” at some point in their lives. In essence, Scooby, Shaggy’s talking dog, and four youngsters (who appear to be in their mid-20s) look into numerous crimes that happen around town. The twist is always that the crimes were perpetrated by some type of monster, ghost, spirit, beast, or pretty much any extra-natural entity. The characters on the programme were Fred, who was slick and sophisticated, Velma, who was nerdy, Shaggy, who was laid back and easily scared, Scooby, who loved scooby snacks, and Daphne, who played a sort of damsel in distress role.
A SPRAWLING PIECE OOZING WITH LOVE FOR EVERYTHING INDIAN
Every 10 minutes during the first half, the movie keeps switching its genre, undergoing brilliant tonal shifts with the assurance of a master conductor at work.
The long-awaited Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor starrer “Laal Singh Chaddha,” which has finally hit the theatres this week, is an adaptation of the 1986 novel titled “Forrest Gump” by the American author Winston Groom. The novel was famously adapted by Eric Roth for the 1994 Hollywood film of the same name, directed by Robert Zemeckis, which bagged 6 Academy Awards. Directed by Advait Chandan, Laal Singh Chaddha also stars Naga Chaitanya (in his Hindi film debut), Manav Vij, Arun Bali, Mona Singh, and Aaryaa Sharma.
Given the narrative’s sprawling nature, making a film like “Laal Singh Chaddha” is like making 15-20 films. That’s how herculean the task would have been for Aamir, Advait, and the team. Remaking a film like Forrest Gump is no kid’s play. I don’t think anyone but Aamir Khan could have delivered a film of this scope and scale. It’s heartening to see the kind of respect that the film pays to historical accuracy as well as getting the different aspects of Sikhism right.
Every 10 minutes during the first half, the movie keeps switching its genre, undergoing brilliant tonal shifts with the assurance of a master conductor at work. Credit must also go to Atul Kulkarni for beautifully adapting “Forrest Gump” to an Indian setting and for seamlessly weaving the important historical events of the last 40 years into it. When it does the Kargil War, it seems to do it better than ‘Shershaah.’ When it does sports, it seems to match “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.” When it does comedy, it seems to do it better than most. And as a drama, it really excels in terms of cinematic storytelling for the most part.
“Laal Singh Chaddha” comes across as a breath of fresh air at a time when the Hindi film industry needs it the most. Aamir Khan’s innocence personified as Laal Singh Chaddha, and his chemistry with Kareena Kapoor is the major highlight of the film, along with his bromance with Naga Chaitanya and Manav Vij. There are some beautiful segments of magic realism that are beautifully crafted. Like a boy who walks using crutches, suddenly starts running like P T Usha when subjected to bullying. The colour grading is so good that the movie looks stunning visually, and honestly, I haven’t seen a more beautiful looking period film made in India.
Aamir Khan transforms into ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ in no time and brings the character to life as only he can. Chaddha’s simplicity, to go with his honesty and a sense of contagious optimism that he carries with him at all times, lights up the screen. Whether he is narrating some story, trying to save lives on a battlefield, or making an effort to sell undergarments, Aamir’s Chaddha always makes us root for him.
Mona Singh is wonderful as Chadda’s loving mother. It’s easily the performance that will take away all the accolades. I was in school when ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi’ used to air on TV and having seen Mona Singh all these years, I have always known that she is a fine actor, but seeing what she achieves in ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ made me realise that she is actually one of the finest actors working in the country right now.
But the biggest surprise of the movie is Kareena Kapoor. Who would have thought that a wafer-thin character that Robin Wright played in “Forrest Gump” would become the centrepiece of the Hindi adaptation almost three decades later. This is Kareena Kapoor’s finest performance since ‘Jab We Met.’ It is a layered performance, and we can see the character’s dichotomy throughout the film’s running time.
It can be said with absolute certainty that technology has been put to use to de-age Kareena (and Aamir) for this. But the end result is so good and it makes me particularly happy that we have aced the use of this cutting-edge technology better than what Hollywood did with, say, ‘The Irishman’.
I also would like to praise both Naga Chaitanya and Manav Vij for their wonderful cameos. For me, their characters’ bromance with Laal Singh Chadda is one of the film’s major highlights. It’s a masterstroke to make Manav Vij’s character a soldier from the enemy ranks, as opposed to ‘Forrest Gump’, where Gary Sinise’s Lieutenant character was Gump’s compatriot. I would be remiss to not mention Pritam, Arijit Singh, and Amitabh Bhattacharya, who have done wonderful work with the film’s music, songs, and lyrics. Overall, I must say that Laal Singh Chadda has reinstated my faith in Hindi cinema. It’s not a perfect film. It suffers from pacing issues in the second half. It’s probably not even Aamir’s best work. But it is cinematic storytelling at its purest. Here’s a sprawling period piece oozing with nostalgia and an abundance of love for everything Indian. The naysayers can denounce him, but so long as we have stalwarts like Aamir Khan working in the Hindi film industry, Bollywood is here to stay.
In the blink of an eye
Gallery Dotwalk is all set to organise a group exhibition show titled “In the Blink of an Eye”. The show, curated by Shruti Ramingaiah, has already started and will be held till 10th September 2022. ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ considers the states of transcending into sleep and being awake as a metaphor to reflect on time as extended, indefinite, and nonconsecutive happening, event, and passage.
The show features ten artists from different cities in India with the diverse practises and approaches they bring to this exhibition. Each artist in this exhibition explores events from the past and even recent times. They reflect on the many meanings of memory, from personal to collective. Going back to their roots, a group of artists revisit their relationship to a site, place, and events.
The ten artists are Bhisaji Gadekar, Chandan Bez Baruah, Jyothi Basu, Kundan Mondal, Midhun Gopi, Rachana Nagarkar, Prajakta Palav Aher, Saju Kunhan, Shruti Mahajan, and Sneh Mehra.
In a candid conversation, curator Shruti Ramingaiah said, “This curatorial is interested in the idea of transition and how we understand the element of time in our everyday and the changing world around us. This show is an attempt to reflect on time that is non-linear. It asks us how we connect with the past, present, and future that are taking place, overlapping simultaneously. The exhibition considers a brief state of transcending into sleep and being awake as a metaphor to explore the possibilities of going beyond our preset notions of time in our daily life. The exhibition probes the viewer to rethink, what it means to be constantly on the move. At the core of all this, how then do we make sense of reality? “
The show will be on view from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.
Headquartered at Delhi-NCR, Gallery Dotwalk is an art gallery committed to building an art space that pivots on integrity and genuineness that converses with art enthusiasts around the world, utilising the prowess of technology and positive contributions to the art milieu.
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