Super 30 Review (SPOILERS): Not Enough Masala

Well, that was a bad movie! I already put up a no spoilers review that explains how and why it was bad without revealing more of the plot than was in the trailer. You can read that and then not waste your time on this review. Or you can read both! Whatever you want.

Whole Plot in One Paragraph:

Hrithik is a brilliant high school student who has a love story with Mrunal Thakar. He sends in a proof to a mathematical journal, it is noticed and Cambridge University offers him a place. But corrupt politician Pankaj Tripathi refuses him a loan, and his father can’t raise the money. In the middle of this, his father dies. Hrithik starts selling food on the streets until he is found by Aditya Shrivastava who wants him to head up his coaching classes. Hrithik becomes rich and successful teaching rich kids how to get into IIT. Mrunal’s father approves of him. But one night he sees a poor boy studying under a streetlight and it inspires him. He quits his job and takes his savings and decides he is going to start a class for 30 students for free, only the poorest can attend. He gets a building for them to sleep and study in, and some books, and his mother makes them food. He sets a tough entrance exam and takes the top 30, telling the one who was one point behind to come back and try next year. The 30 study and study, and reporter Amit Sadh starts writing stories about them. Hrithik runs out of money to feed them and goes to evil Aditya for a loan. Aditya agrees if his 30 compete on a test with Aditya’s students. They lose and, to add to the humiliation, the supervisor of the test and the one to announce the loss turns out to be Mrunal’s new husband. Mrunal helps Hrithik by hiding the contract he signed saying he will shut his coaching classes if he loses. More studying and test prep, Aditya is even angrier now and so is Pankaj Tripathi. They hire goons to kill Hrithik. Amit Sadh warns him, Hrithik is attacked but his brother Nandish Singh has been following to protect him and saves him. He is taken to a hospital and Aditya hires more goons to attack, unaware that one of Hrithik’s students is overhearing their plans. He warns the hospital and the kids put together a series of booby traps using their Science Knowledge and defeat the goons. The next day they sit for the exam and sure enough, all 30 pass.

Image result for super 30 poster

I’m trying to think what I can say that I didn’t already cover in my no spoilers review. That alone is kind of a problem. The film has no twists. The central themes are right there in the poster, there is nothing for me to discuss that was not already revealed long ago. Amit Sadh, I guess? He does a great job, far more charismatic and hero-feeling than Hrithik.

Some of the little “Science Knowledge” bits are fun too, especially the end action sequence. They made me think about what this film would have been like if it had been more of a real Masala. If instead of being all serious and intense and acting like an Uncle giving you a lecture, it had been a whole bunch of fun set pieces with ridiculous uses of science.

The romance already feels quite Masala, Hrithik and Mrunal have a nice chemistry together and their love story is cute. But it only gets a few scenes, even while they are still supposed to be together, it isn’t a major focus. I would have enjoyed more of that, maybe see them get married and Mrunal struggle alongside him.

Poor Pankaj Tripathi struggles with a role that isn’t quite over the top enough to be entertaining, or realistic enough to be unnoticed, and instead just lands on “irritating”. Aditya is the same. In the Masala version of this movie, they would both be fun over the top villains.

Most of all, in the Masala version, all the money angst would go away!!!!! We establish that Hrithik is a top coaching teacher, making enough money to hire a maid for his mother and buy a motorcycle, gold chain, fancy watch, and so on. But then he sells everything and takes all his savings, and runs out of money for food. How expensive is food???? It’s just not believable, they needed an artificial driving force to keep the film going over the 8 months of classes before the test, but “money problems” is not a good one. We see they are in a dingy old building, we see they are eating the cheapest possible food, we see that Hrithik is their only teacher. Where is the money going?

In America, sure, sell some gold jewelry and stuff and you only make enough for rent for maybe a month. But in a super poor area of India (as this is established to be), the economics of it just don’t make sense. And aren’t true anyway, in reality the “real” Anand Kumar does the practical thing and teaches for profit coaching classes along with his scholarship one. He claims to only charge a fraction of what other schools charge, and that is probably true, but it’s still more than enough to cover his scholarship students. As would be any kind of reasonable savings from a high paying important job he had previously.

This whole plot line feels like it is there to give an excuse to the audience. It’s too hard to provide a free education, or a free meal, to the starving poor. Look, even Anand Kumar couldn’t do it! No reason for us puny humans to try, we can keep our gold and our toys, they wouldn’t make a difference.

Now, in my Masala version, the money plot could be removed and replaced with the far more entertaining violence plot. If we had a whole 8 months of violent attacks on the school being repelled by clever science tricks, that would be a really entertaining movie. And would give us the message of these kids being peppy and strong and talented, instead of dirty and subhuman.

Masala is a term for a fun silly kind of film, and there is a reason that fun silly kind of film is the traditional style for Indian film. It takes ideas and brings them to the extreme, so the audience can know they are fake, know this is just a movie, and consider whether the ideas are worthwhile or not. This movie resists the Masala, which also means it resists any sense of lightness, of fun, of permission to see the whole story as fake. This movie doesn’t want the story to be fake, it wants it to be real and serious and important and the One True Answer. And wanting that so hard, to me, tells me that it is definitely NOT the one true answer. If it were, it could afford to laugh at itself a little more.

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7 thoughts on “Super 30 Review (SPOILERS): Not Enough Masala

  1. The optics of the movie were always wrong anyway. You have lines like “raja ka beta raja nahi banega” (A king’s son will not become king) and that character is being played by Hrithik?!! Actors are actors but sometimes you have to be cognizant of what they stand for and who they are in the real world. It is beyond artificial. The makers themselves don’t believe what they are saying.
    Also this guy is supposed to be a genius so he decides to quit his job with no future plans of how to make money?! They have to create fake conflicts so he can’t be normal and just teach some for-profit classes. This is an easily solvable dilemma. In a masala movie, you are expected to shut your brain and take whatever comes but this one is posing to be realistic with all the dull drabness but people are supposed to digest unbelievable stupidity like this?
    I really hope it flops especially because of all the molesters and frauds involved in it.

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    • Yeah, nothing against Hrithik, and he has more than proved himself beyond being his father’s son, but it is a strange casting choice.

      Exactly! They had the same plot about food in Mr. India, and it was treated as the silly idea it is. He takes in all these orphans, with no income, and then randomly rents a room to Sridevi or else they would starve. But it’s Mr. India, we didn’t expect realism. In this movie, it just doesn’t add up. Get a small business loan, start up your own coaching academy, and work with these kids on the side. Or save money for a year and make sure you have enough and then start. He’s just creating his own problems, why should I root for this stupid stupid character?

      Oh, and I was honestly a little surprised to see a plot point of a woman falsely accusing Hrithik of rape. It’s only a five minute scene, and organic to the film (part of the ways his enemy is trying to defeat him), I can believe it was in an early draft of the script (maybe why Vikas liked the script) and not added later. But I can’t believe they didn’t cut it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Is anyone else offended by Hrithik in “blackface”? If there is a reason why the character has to be dark skinned, they should have just hired an actor who is darker than Hrithik.

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    • I’m offended twice, first that he changed his skin tone and second that they equated “poor” with “dark skin”. The real guy isn’t that dark, or bearded, or wearing such ragged clothing

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Could it be that some of the plot points which struck you, weren’t in the original script which was labelled as a biopic? I wonder if the producers changed from biopic to “inspired by” because of the fraud allegations…and made the teacher into a kind of ‘Sir Galahad’.

    The movie sounds boring and pretentious reading your reviews but interestingly the domestic public seems to be almost all praise….

    When I look at the movies which are propelled to considerable success at the domestic box-office, it really makes me question if the interests reigning India will change in the near future…(‘allowing’ intellectual movies like Mulk or Article 15 just comes across – imo – as ‘alibi-films’). And will there be National Awards this year???

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    • I’m really surprised it is doing well in India. Besides the irritating plot points and so on, it’s just kind of a boring movie, I thought. I didn’t expect the audience to enjoy watching it.

      On Sun, Jul 14, 2019 at 1:39 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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      • Yeah, I read the opinions of (alleged) movie-goers in the india-forums and it’s all praise (and dancing/clapping even in multiplexes)…seems that there is much enthusiasm for the movie.
        Baradwaj Rangan on Twitter wrote: “Just saw #Super30. Will put together some thoughts soon, but a few issues apart, this was way beyond what I expected — the most inventive use of masala tropes in a “regular” setting since GOLI SODA (2014). It’s time the biopic was liberated from “realism”. This is a great start.”

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