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Ronnie Screwvala, Vasan Bala to adapt The Phantom into a desi superhero

The Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2019) director will begin work on his adaptation of the Lee Falk superhero next year. 

Our Correspondent

2020 seems to be the year of superheroes. After Sanjay Gupta, Aditya Dhar, Vasan Bala is set to remake The Phantom into a desi superhero for audiences. The filmmaker has teamed up with producer Ronnie Screwvala, who has acquired rights for the character. 

The newspaper Mumbai Mirror quoted a source saying, "They have the official screen adaptation rights. Vasan has begun researching on the subject and will soon start developing the script." 

Bala directed the zany comedic superhero film, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2019) earlier this year. The film featured Abhimanyu Dassani and Radhika Madan in the lead roles, and told the story of a man who felt no pain. It won the People's Choice Midnight Madness award at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

This remake is reportedly expected to be ready for release in the second half of 2020. 

The character of The Phantom was created by Lee Falk in 1936, and is one of the oldest superheroes in comic book history. The character is also the first one in comic history to feature a mask, which has become a regular feature for superheroes since.

Nicknamed as 'The Ghost Who Walks', 'The Man Who Cannot Die' and 'The Guardian of The Eastern Dark', The Phantom follows the story of a young man (Kit Walker) raised in the jungles of fictional island of Bangalla to fight crime, following the footsteps of his forefather who was beset by pirates. 

While the stories usually featured a white Phantom, it would be interesting to see how Bala transforms it into an Indianised version. Incidentally, Falk's initial story was based on the myths of Bengal. 

The comic book has been adapted once on screen by Simomn Wincer featuring Billy Zane as The Phantom (1996). The film proved to be a major debacle at the box office and was panned by critics. 

Ronnie Screwvala has also signed on Aditya Dhar for another quasi-superhero film based on the myth of Ashwatthama from the Mahabharata. The film will be directed by Aditya Dhar and will feature Vicky Kaushal in the lead role.