In Abbas Al-Yousefi's Ashman, a man, Bashar (Bashar Aljazzaf), eats Ash, a food, and becomes Ashman (the name is given to him by the public). Like Shaktimaan, this superhero gets his costume along with his superpowers. Meaning: Bashar doesn't need to sew an outfit for himself. And what a ridiculous yellow costume he receives, complete with a helmet, a towel, and glasses! This is an observation that is also made by other characters in the film. When they look at Ashman, their first reaction is to laugh at him. Bashar's friends have a good time teasing him. Sample this line: My daughter's birthday is near. How much do you charge? (You know because he has electric superpowers).
Ashman derives many jokes from the fact that those close to Bashar don't treat him like a VIP. Apart from the friends, his wife, Lulu (Lulwa Almulla), too, is not that much in awe of Bashar. She merely uses her husband's image to elevate her reputation in front of her friends. The media and the influencers might have put Ashman on a pedestal, but for Lulu, he is her husband first and superhero later (much later). Hence, she orders him to bring groceries home and gets jealous when she finds out he is in front of two women. Bashar, too, is scared of Lulu. He refers to her as an anaconda and requests a scientist to not make him confront female villains.
The movie often cuts Ashman down to size so that he doesn't become a mythic figure (while flying at high speed towards a destination, he stops briefly to ask for directions). He is shown as an ordinary man in (extra)ordinary circumstances. His most important goal may be to stop a gold-making machine or something like that, but he also acts like a traffic cop when an old lady crosses the road. In one of the enjoyable scenes in the film, Bashar's mother sings a song to celebrate her son's new status. She basically shows off Bashar's superheroic reputation in front of everyone through a song and dance routine. But what's her deal? Why is she a puppet? Why is her son not a puppet? Is Bashar the son of a human and a puppet?
So we are told that a special liquid gives some individuals superpowers, and the powers come with a ridiculous costume. Bashar is one of those rare individuals, but he is not the only one. Two women - Tamadhur (Elham Ali) and Sabeeka (Rawan Alali) - also got superpowers after consuming the green liquid. Well, why didn't they get a costume? Why don't they use their powers to do their jobs instead of relying on three stupid goons who are incredibly incompetent? I know the movie wants to be silly (after a security system is successfully hacked, the words "Mission Complete" appear on a computer screen). But it can sometimes come across as lazy. I mean, why provide the villains with superpowers when you are going to regard them with indifference? Apart from a lipstick-cum-missile, Tamadhur and Sabeeka are not given anything substantial to do with their abilities.
Ashman is one of those movies where it's futile to apply any logic. The people make a hero out of the titular character and later turn him into a villain. You can take it as a comment on the fickle public, though there is no point in digging for meanings in this film. And that's completely fine if you have a good time with Ashman. I found the movie to not be consistently funny, but it was consistently watchable, at least. Some jokes, like the one with a police officer, go on for too long. And it's weird how the camera stays with the news reporters for a bit longer than necessary after the characters exit the scene. The movie doesn't leave you desperate for a sequel, but it goes down easy.
Final Score- [6/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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