– Satyakam Ray
The Avengers Endgame broke all the records of Hollywood in terms of the revenue it earned. Not only that, it touched the hearts of millions with its powerful emotional superhero portrayal and the fantastic Marvel storyline. Though the Indian audience cherished it, many 90s kids remember the first Indian Superhero-Shaktimaan.
Every Sunday at noon IST- the TVs in Indian households would be turned on without fail during the early 2000s. Reason- Shaktimaan telecasted during that time. For the 90s kids, Shaktimaan is an emotion. For people outside India unfamiliar with Shaktimaan, it’s the first Indian superhero, just like the Marvel or DC universe. Way before the CGI or green screen superheroes ruled in the hearts of Indian fans, Indian 90s kids adulated Shaktimaan.
It’s a TV series that started telecasting in 1997 and ended in 2005. First, of its kind among the Indian audience, Shaktimaan grabbed the attention of young adults like never before. It aimed to promote truth, honesty, and the importance of integrity among young minds through a fictional storyline- a battle between good and evil.
No YouTube or smartphone or internet was prevalent then. The 90s kids- now adults in their mid-20s or early 30s can correlate the visual graphics of Shaktimaan to be a little bit crappy and laughable compared to the current technological advantage. But we all enjoyed the show as much without giving any mocking.
The acting by Mukesh Khanna was top-notch, as he portrayed two characters simultaneously. Shaktimaan- the all-mighty superhero, and disguised little not-so-smart Gangadhar complemented each other through a severe superhero vibe and dry humor. Other good side characters- the suryavanshis, sadguru, Geeta Biswas, villains like Khilbhis, and scientist jayakal- acted beautifully in the TV serial. Barring a graphical disadvantage, Shaktimaan was a whole package of entertainment and moral teaching. It was worth watching in current times, so DD telecasted Shaktimaan again in 2020.
Particularly the little love story between Geeta Biswas and Shaktimaan, cunning tricks by a Shaitan scientist Jayakal who always say ‘pawar’ as the punch line, andhera kayam rahe chant by followers of dark, little cameos by electric man, kekda man, and kapala – to name a few villains to stand out as everlasting memories.
But if you ask any 90s kid what exactly stands out in their minds if we speak Shaktimaan. The answer will be the acting of Mukesh Khanna, different non-conventional villains, visual graphics, and a good storyline. In our leisure time, the discussion topic would be how many chakras were in Shaktimaan and their significance.
As little kids, we emulated many good qualities of Shaktimaan as we believed in the character. A particularly noticeable thing during that period was that many kids tried to spin like Shaktimaan and got hurt. The author himself did a foolish stunt in his school days and got hurt. After a series of incidents, Shaktimaan had to come on TV requesting kids not to do like that. We listened to him. We also listened to him when he started the “chhoti chhoti lekin moti baate” program to educate us about good, moral behavior in daily chores. The “Thank you Shaktimaan” at the end of the program has become a meme now, but it was quite a thing back then.
Is Shaktimaan 2 can create the same effects among the kids as in its first run? The answer might be no. Because the change in tech, social fabric changes, or the scenarios might not suit today’s audience.
Comparison with Marvel or DC universe is ludicrous as their budget and storylines differ. But with a limited budget and technical advantage, Shaktimaan has done its job as it’s still remembered among the 90s kids. Almost 18 years later, the serial has its impact, a massive statement. The Shaktimaan fan clubs of yesteryears no longer existed. But it’s unthinkable that a tv serial or web series of that caliber can be made in recent times with a massive audience acceptance as that of Shaktimaan. Because in the end, it’s Shaktimaan, an emotion of the 90s kid.