The first real big hit for Anil Kapoor, but more than his acting it was the element of sci-fi in the story which was the hero, as Anil himself was invisible in half the movie. The big hit that it was, Mr India was also one of the few directorial ventures of Shekhar Kapoor which he actually completed.
A subsequent sequel for this movie was also planned with the same actors but was shelved after the death of Sridevi, its heroine. Recently again this movie was in the news as a trilogy was planned which Shekhar has opposed vehemently, even threatening to go to court against the makers. Sridevi an established heroine was paid the highest ever price for any heroine at the time.
Actually Mr India could easily be called Miss India for the way Sridev played the character, with the hero being invisible in better part of the movie. Her ‘Hawa Hawaii’ song and the Charlie Chaplin act are a part of the folklore. The villain Mogambo (played by Amrish Puri) mouthing “Mogambo Khush Hua” became an iconic character thus pushing this film to a cult status.
Though a refreshing story at the time Mr India was inspired by a combination of two older movies viz. ‘Mr. X in Bombay’ and ‘Bhramchari’. Screenplay was penned by Salim Javed, it was one of their last movie together. Arun (Anil Kapoor) is an orphaned altruist who plays godfather to children orphaned like himself and keeps them in a large rented house (a la Bhramchari where Shammi Kapoor does the same) along with his man Friday aptly named Calendar (Satish Kaushik-also the assistant director of the movie). As he has no fixed job and is getting difficult to make the ends meet he keeps a journalist Seema (Sri Devi) as his tenant, with whom he falls in love after the initial skirmishes.
One day he receives a mysterious letter from his father’s friend giving him directions to obtain one of his dead father’s greatest inventions an invisibility watch which makes the wearer invisible to the world except under red light, this he does and keeps it a secret from everyone. Seema is captured during an undercover operation by the goons of Mogambo (Amrish Puri) a mad army mercenary who is out to conquer India. She is saved by Arun as his alter ego the invisible Mr. India and falls in love with the invisible superhero unknown to her that it is the same Arun who loves her. From here on Mogambo is in search of Mr. India and perpetrates many a destructions to bring him out. There are many hilarious and sad incidents which built up to the climax.
This movie firmly established Sridevi as the lady superstar (read Amitabh Bachchan) of Bollywood and took her leagues ahead of any competition. Her sensuousness in the song ‘Kate nahin Kat te’ fully clothed in an electric blue sari is considered one of most erotic rain song acts which still arouses passions. Sri was also called by the nickname Haw Hawaii after this film.
Mr India was the biggest grosser of the year Released on 25th May 1987. The movie’s villain Mogambo invokes awe in the league of Gabbar Singh from ‘Sholay’ one of the few iconic villainous characters in Bollywood. This movie is in the list of 100 all-time greats of Indian Cinema, a list released on the 100th anniversary of our Indian film industry which we at Filmy town are also celebrating, thus there is no reason to miss this big one. This movie still has so much impact that many of its characters and nuances are still referenced in many TV serials and plays. MOGAMBO KHUSH HUA.
– PAWAN GUPTA pays tribute to Amrish Puri and Sridevi