We have all been rendezvous with Hindu mythology and its superhero beings from the beginning of our time. Their intricate details, the history of their inception and their mere existence, if at all, has always mesmerised us. If not from a religious point of view, which is rather vast and sometimes disputed, rather, from a cinematic point of view, we find a lot of things to visualize on the large screen. Moreover, I find the fact otherwise astonishing that none of our handful of so-called “great” filmmakers has ever attempted to showcase these characters on a grander scale, as the likes of ‘Baahubali’ or ‘Magadheera’. Let’s spare the examples of ‘Hanumaan’, ‘My Friend Ganesha’, ‘Arjun: The Warrior Prince’ and ‘Chotta Bheem’ or the TV serials which rarely exhibit their supposed majesty or their formidable existence. Mythological or otherwise, all of them are our superheroes nonetheless. Our own, perpetually cherished and timeless superheroes, lived only by words and very close to our hearts.
Compiling a list of such Mythological superhero characters was everything but easy. Also, there can be an undeniable number of possibilities where this could end. Or couldn’t. The possibilities that are manifold, yet it would be an unrelenting onus on the person trying to visualize and materialize these characters on the 70mm screen. So here goes, the listicle of such immensely popular and ageless Indian Mythological superheroes, who are the need of the hour and who deserve their own special place in the cinematic world with all the pomp and fervour. Like I’ve said before, this isn’t an exhaustive list, so don’t expect all your favourite “Godlores” over here. For there are more than 330 million of them Gods. And don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers here.
While we’re at it, Ravana also was a deft warrior and a renowned intellectual, so much so that while Ravana was on his deathbed, Lakshmana was advised by Lord Rama to seek the former’s knowledge and conscience. We might think of Ravana as a conniving Asura, who merely kidnapped Sita, but there’s much more to that. Ravana is known to be the most ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and said to possess immortality, thanks to Lord Brahma for blessing him with the nectar of immortality. His powers, including his immortality, his ten heads (representing ten different treatises and Vedas or the ten emotions/moods and so on), his immaculate administration, statesmanship, military and strategic prowess and his ambition to overpower Devas themselves render him Ajeya i.e. unconquerable. While many (film and TV series) have depicted Ravana in many-a-forms, we haven’t seen the best yet. The best of evil, yet morally upright. Ravana’s story, narrated from a first person’s viewpoint would certainly be a must watch.
12. Lord Indra
The God-King and the Thor of Indian Mythology, Indra has been portrayed on the silver screen by many renowned actors. Without many exceptions, we have seen him running helter-skelter for help and he also attracts relatively lesser religious significance. The one who wields a Vajra, a powerful weapon made of thunder and rides on an elephant, Lord Indra too is a revered warrior and is known for challenging almost all the forms of Devas and Asuras. While much isn’t known or written about the origin or the history of Indra, it would be delightful to watch his mere presence and a story focused on him as the central character, probably for the first time.
Known by the aliases of “Bhimasena”, “Jarasandhajit” and “Kichakajit”, Bhima was practically invincible by all but one person and was single-handedly responsible for slaying all the Kauravas. Bhima’s persona and intimidating-bullying nature was a threat to many. Known for being extremely powerful, a masterful warrior, Bhima was capable of conjuring deadly weapons (including his mace), dextrous in defeating even Gods and other masters of the warfare (he’s known to defeat God King Indra) and a voracious eater (also a cook, disguised as Vallabha).
With gluttony, excess pride and flamboyance being his shortcomings, something which also led to his demise, watching his story, including his marriage with Hidimbi (and of course, Draupadi) and his son Ghatotkach’s ventures would be a thrilling affair on the big screen. I somehow have a feeling we soon would.
10. Lord Ganesha
One of the most devoutly followed deities across many cultures and religions, Lord Ganesha is known primarily for his intelligence and wisdom. The God of Learning and remover of obstacles, his super-strengths are his patience, his knowledge (He wrote the epic Mahabharata btw, whilst sage Veda Vyasa dictated) and his skill with letters and words. Lord Ganesha’s presence in a movie would mean fun and frolic, combined with some divine nerdiness. Not just that, Lord Ganesha has also incarnated himself in the form of 8 avatars to slay the asuras of greed, lust, anger etc. So basically, Lord Ganesha’s cinematic journey would be a complete package and truly the one symbolising zenith of awesomeness. Sounds neat?
We most certainly held high hopes with ‘Arjun: The Warrior Prince’ (2012) yet I felt the movie lacked any substantial impact and ferocity of Arjuna that he purports to be, despite the movie having an extremely good storyline. The face of the great epic Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna was truly the hero of the great war. The son of Lord Indra and an ace warrior, Arjuna led the Kurukshetra Warfront and helped to defeat many stalwarts, including his half-brother Karna, thus winning the war. Also, it was Arjuna who received the preachings of Bhagavad Gita from Krishna, his charioteer, who stalled the Time itself and helped Arjuna overcome his fears. Arjuna was also the “favourite” husband of Draupadi, and pupil of Dronacharya, something that was a bone of contention between the five Pandavas. Movie-wise, I think he deserves as much screen space as any of the diety-superheroes that we have. Or at least we should get started. And can we do away with the animated versions, please?
8. Lord Rama
Lord Shri Rama is certainly one of the most celebrated, widely known and highly regarded Indian mythological superheroes and one of my favourites. Despite all odds, having spent 14 years in exile along with his younger brother Lakshmana and facing the separation from his wife Sita, Rama’s story is all relatable yet intriguing. We have already seen many actors play this glorious role on television or the 70mm screen, yet the sheer scale of Lord Rama hasn’t been portrayed yet, in my opinion. Lord Rama is an extremely fearsome warrior, armed with a bow and a volley of arrows and a symbol of prudence and pluck. The duels, the spells and the story are all inspiring enough for him to deserve his own big-budget movie, at the least. Don’t you think?
7. Lord Krishna
Another incarnation of God Vishnu, Lord Krishna had a pivotal role, right from the day of his birth on Krishna Janmashtami, killing of Kamsa, to charioteering Arjuna in Kurukshetra War and discoursing the Bhagavad Gita. Along with Shiva and Ganesha, Krishna too is highly revered and devoutly worshipped. And who can forget the famous Ramanand Sagar’s Shri Krishna, the every Sunday favourite serial of many of us millennials? We learned so much about Krishna’s life and times via this very TV series which we couldn’t have learnt by any other means. Sarvadaman Bannerjee’s portrayal of Shri Krishna had all of us elated. Another Lord Krishna’s portrayal, preferably on a larger scale, complete with his Sudarshan Chakra, his contribution to Mahabharata and his famed quests are something we’ve been raring to see. On a separate note, Aamir Khan has too expressed his desire to play this colossal role if such a movie is ever made.
6. Lord Hanuman
One of the eight Chiranjeevi (Immortal) beings of the Hindu mythology, Lord Hanuman is also Pavanputra (Son of Lord Vaayu) and a devotee of Lord Rama. Blessed with immense knowledge, super-strength (can be attributed to his mountain-lifting capabilities), immortality and shape-shifting capabilities, Lord Hanuman has also been showcased in many TV serials and movies but sadly none of those portrayals was worthy of even the millionth of the stature he has. The need of the hour is to put him forth – in all his strength, valour, divinity and grandeur, something that is true to his name. If that happens, Hanuman would truly be our answer to all the modern, worldly superheroes. Given his immortality of the mace-wielding Lord Hanuman across all the yugas, he is still believed to be around, in flesh and blood.
5. Lord Narasimha
An incarnation of God Vishnu, a part-man and part-lion Lord Narasimha was brought to existence in order to eliminate the demon-king Hiranyakashyapu and restoring tranquillity to the world. Lord Narasimha, who killed (rather disembowelled) Hiranyakashyapu with his fingernails, while it was neither day nor night, neither inside nor outside his house, neither on the ground nor in the sky, but on his lap, thus exploiting the loopholes in the boon granted to him, appeared out of a pillar to do so. More than the story itself, the illustration matters way too much, which hasn’t been accomplished successfully so far (in numerous TV serials).
4. Lord Shiva
The Supreme Being, the Adiyogi and the Destroyer, Lord Shiva is the first Yogi and a part of the Hindu Trinity. While many forms of Lord Shiva, ranging from tolerant and accommodating to fierce and furious have been known to exist, the most common depiction is with a crescent over his head, the Gangadhara, the serpent around his blue throat, meditating whilst seated on top of tiger skin, with a trident in one hand and drum in another. We have seen most of the depictions on the television screen with multiple actors embodying Lord Shiva, yet we’re still to see the one filled with rage, slaying demons with his trident and bestowing boons upon other devas, asuras and other beings. Lord Shiva is the supreme deity, symbolising faith, divinity, rage, destruction, grace and benevolence – all at once.
3. Lord Parashurama
The sixth incarnation of God Vishnu, the master of all sorts of divine weapons and treatises and the one who will be, according to Kalki Purana, the master to the tenth incarnation of God Vishnu i.e. Kalki, the furious Lord Parashurama has an intimidating persona. At the time when Kshatriya warriors started misusing their powers, a brahmin-sage Lord Parashurama was incarnated to put an end to all the evil. It is also debated that at a point in time, Lord Parashurama had slain all the Kshatriya warriors in the world single-handedly before he stopped when confronted with Lord Rama when the latter breaks Lord Shiva’s bow, given by Lord Parashurama to Janak, Sita’s father. Another immortal being (Chiranjeevi), the axe-wielding sage warrior Parashurama is our timeless superhero we almost never saw on the screen, with a swag like no one else. And given the stature we would like to see of Parashurama, I reckon we’re looking at a far-fetched dream.
2. Goddess Kālī
A form of Adi Shakti, and an embodiment of Goddess Durga, with her wrath and rage, the Rakthbeej slayer Kālī is a force to reckon with. While there are numerous stories of her origin and how she conquered evil with her fury and restored peace with her ferociousness, we would like to see the form wherein she represents the collective divinity and congruence of the feminine form of cosmic energy. The dance on the slain corpses, with a severed head in one hand, a bloodied sword in the other, donning a garland of skulls, complete with the fierceness and daunt, Kālī is definitely the moksha bestower that everyone seeks. While a television serial bearing the same name is on-air as we speak, it couldn’t fathom the grandeur Goddess Kālī has. Effort-wise, we would perhaps need more. A lot, lot more.
And the perfect mythological zenith and a disciple of Lord Parashurama himself, the first son of Kunti and Sun God Surya, Karna was practically invincible in the Kurukshetra War during Mahabharata. Abandoned by his mother (as she was unmarried at the time of his birth) and disregarded everywhere as a charioteer’s son, he disguised himself as a Brahmin and learned warfare from the revered sage-warrior Lord Parashurama, who then also cursed him knowing of his lie – to forget everything about weapons at the time of dire need. From facing rejections (by Dronacharya, by Draupadi) to being marred by curses (the Parashurama curse, a brahmin’s curse to get killed by an arrow while helpless, the Mother Earth’s curse), and to taking sides with the wrong party (he was Kunti’s son yet sided with Kauravas) Karna’s story is nothing but awe-inspiring.
Blessed with an impregnable undetachable armour by his father God Surya, which was taken away deviously by Lord Indra in the form of alms, Karna’s life only went downhill, yet he never imploded. During the confrontation with Arjuna in the Kurukshetra War, while his Chariot’s wheel was stuck in the mud (Mother Earth’s curse), he forgot all his warfare training (Parashurama’s curse) and got killed by Arjuna’s arrow -despite respecting the rules of the war. Being one of the only three mortals having seen the Vishwaroopam (the other two being Sanjay and Arjuna), Karna’s story is all about braving the odds, despite all the ridicule and despair and with practically no near and dear ones by his side. He is the forgotten superhero I think we deserve. If made into a movie, this would be an emotional yet an inspiring and action-packed affair.
Read More: Best Indian Superheroes