India has a long, long science-fiction history (books and movies) which is in shadows for most of the times.
The first science-fiction Bollywood movie in India dealt with invisibility, basically taking inspiration from the novel “The Invisible Man” of H.G. Wells. The novel is still the most sold science-fiction novel in India. The names of the movie was: Mr. X in Bombay (1964 – starring Kishore Kumar, Kumkum and Madan Puri) It was an interesting case where the audience were left to wonder about the invisibility of Sudarshan, as played by Kishore Kumar. The movie was way ahead of its time where people couldn’t even wrap their minds around the plot and many believed, it was too childish.
Side note: I told this was the first Bollywood science-fiction movie. The first ever science-fiction movie in India was actually a Tamil movie called Kalai Arasi (1963 – directed by A Kasilingam and starring M.G. Ramachandram and Bhanumathi). I haven’t seen the movie so I cannot say much. However the star power in the movie, at first glance, is impressive. I guess, it was the 2.0 back in the day! I was impressed by the plot shared in its Wikipedia section and if any English/Hindi translation/dubbing is available, I will definitely watch it in the future.
The last of the pre 1990 science fiction movie I liked was probably Mr. India (1983 – starring Anil Kapoor). This was probably a movie everyone growing up in the 80s and 90s have grown up with. This was again, another Bollywood movie revolving around invisibility – this time partial visibility in red lights.
Krrish series – Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish and Krrish 3 (2000s) were also quite entertaining, since they involved superheroes, aliens – all in all there were scientific vibes in all of these movies starring Hrithik Roshan. If I was to rate this films, I would rate each of the successive movies in a descending order.
2000 onwards was supposed to be the Golden age for Bollywood to try sci-fi but the sheer numbers of failures they created were appalling and very demotivating for future science-fiction scriptwriters and authors.
Movies like “A Flying Jatt”, “Alag”, “Prince”, “Love Story 2050”, “Action Replayy” (Yes, the movie has a storyline which involves time travel), “Aa Dekhen Zara” etc. continued to be laughing stocks.
As a science-fiction author, I can sometimes wonder what went through the minds of these scriptwriters which caused these movies to be utter flops unless and until they are at the behest of big stars like Rajinikanth. Not even Shah Rukh Khan and his grandiose promotion of Ra.One (2011) could save the film from sinking. The film was a hit on paper but the public reactions to this movie was disheartening. This is what I put forth as an analogy:
In all the flop movies I had listed, Bollywood never followed the “Earth invasion” or “planetary superhero” or “robotic hero” trends of Hollywood. In other movies, it blindly follows whatever trend persists in the western world. It’s not the case we see in science fiction. While science fiction in other parts of the world advanced, Bollywood stuck to the nuances of “invisibility”, “one way time travel” and having a vague scientific vibe instead of focusing on core scientific elements unlike Interstellar or Avatar.
In India, people do not have any idea of what involves science fiction. When you search “science fiction books in India”, Amish’s “The Secret of the Nagas” come up. Now, I get the fact that earlier Amazon clubbed fantasy, science fiction and horror together but now, they are separate and need to figure it out.
“The Incredible Adventures of Professor Shonku” by author and famous film director Satyajit Ray is my favourite Indian science fiction book. His “The Diary of a Space Traveller” is another masterpiece.
“Generation 14” by Priya Sarukkai Chhabria is another, I can think of.
“The Island of Lost Girls” by Manjula Padmanabhan is one heck of a stellar novel too.
The other science fiction author in India, I know of is Kumar L. He has written five science fiction books (the first three are a part of a trilogy, the others are short stories):
The First Journey
Black Hole: Oblivion
8 Down from Saharanpur
Deceptions of Tomorrow
My friend Vignesh SV has also written a science fiction/romance novel:
Rebirth of Love in 2060
Last but not the least, I am one science fiction author for sure. My recent book, “A Year Without Summer” has reached #2 at its peak in best-selling science fiction lists of Amazon. I have written two novels till now:
Not Worth Living For
A Year Without Summer
As I mentioned the fall of the movies, authors generally want to be scriptwriters in future or at least see their book adapted into a movie and sci-fi authors really hit the brick wall as they publish yet another book. My question would be: Why would you invest in something where you do not have audience/readership?
Science fiction had a tremendous opportunity to take off since the 1960s but it’s fallen back to the dark ages as of now. It is not so well received, currently but I’m optimistic – one day, when people get bored of romance, young adult, erotica, thrillers, mythology and so on, readers and audience will surely ask: What is the missing factor here?
And only then, science-fiction can fill the vacuum.
Here is the link to Shreyan Laha’s book. Get it now!