Shekhar Kapur’s 1987 blockbuster, ‘Mr. India’, is a cult classic that is much loved by audiences of all ages, even to this day. ‘Mr. India’ means different things to different people. To the millennials, it’s their childhood. To the younger generation of today, it’s a fun film for the kiddies. But what has kept the charm of ‘Mr. India’ alive, even after 36 years? Let’s discuss.
‘Mr. India’ tells the story of poor but big-hearted Arun, who takes in and brings up a bunch of abandoned orphan kids. Down-on-luck Arun, who is an orphan himself, one day finds a futuristic bracelet (his father’s invention) that can turn the wearer invisible. This lucky find turns the tables for Arun, who uses it to fight the bad guys.
There’s so much to love about ‘Mr. India’. The story is heartwarming (and heartbreaking at times), the plot is fast-paced and fun, the music is pleasant and soulful, and the actors’ performances are top-notch. Anil Kapoor plays the lovable Arun, Sridevi the daring diva reporter Seema, and Amrish Puri is seen in one of his most iconic roles Mogambo, the worst of all Bollywood villains.
Anil Kapoor and Sridevi’s on-screen chemistry is sizzling. Too sizzling, at times, for a kids’ movie. But we’re not complaining. They are one of the most loved on-screen pairings in Bollywood, right up there with Shahrukh and Kajol. But there’s much more to ‘Mr. India’ than the romance.
The selflessness and kindness of Arun’s character are unmatched, especially in a time when people hardly care about their own relatives, much less random orphans. In a world that’s growing increasingly selfish, ‘Mr. India’s’ Arun reminds people to be kind and helpful. He also teaches us that we cannot appreciate a win if we never experience a loss.
Adding to the film’s wholesomeness is Seema’s unwavering sense of right and wrong, even at the cost of her own safety. At multiple points in the film, she goes undercover to investigate illegal activities. Once, she pretends to be an exotic dancer in order to uncover the evil plans of Mogambo’s goons. Another time, she dresses up as Charlie Chaplin and goes to an underground casino and busts up the bad guys there (with Mr. India’s invisible help, of course). While you may not be able to play roulette like Seema in a brick-and-mortar casino (those are illegal in India), you can still scratch that itch by playing casino games online.
Advancing the story at every turn are the orphan kids who live with Arun and Calendar the cook (played by the late Satish Kaushik). Arun basically becomes Mr. India for the sake of these children whom he loves so much. The children are the whole heart of the movie, and the audience cannot help but become emotionally attached to them.
That’s another reason why Mogambo is considered one of the evilest Bollywood villains – he has zero qualms about throwing kids in acid-filled pits (don’t worry, Mr. India saves the kids before this can happen). But the screen presence of Amrish Puri as Mogambo is undeniably cool. He will give you goosebumps, especially when he declares his cackling delight (“Mogambo khush hua!”).
Mogambo is so self-loving and self-absorbed that he talks about himself in the third person. It is supremely satisfying to watch Arun take him down in the explosive climax. First-time watchers of the film tend to cheer through this scene.
There are iconic, standout scenes littered throughout the movie. Without a doubt, it is one of Bollywood’s best kids’ movies that even adults can enjoy and love easily. In an age of modern-day superhero films, it might be good to revisit ‘Mr. India’, the first Indian superhero to use a futuristic gadget to save the country.