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May 01, 2012 at 07:37pm IST

Avengers: Hulk shifts spotlight on 'Calcutta' squalor

New Delhi: In the squalor of night time Kolkata, mild mannered doctor Bruce Banner tends to the ill and tries to atone for a past that is as dark and spotted as the walls of the shanties he visits. He thinks he can control the monster that is lurking inside him but he can never be absolutely sure.

Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk is shown hiding out in what is supposedly a slum in erstwhile Calcutta in what is now seen as the season's biggest hit superhero action movie. Based on the Marvel Comics series, 'The Avengers' stars Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

The Calcutta scene was shot in New Mexico. According to the Associated Press, the film is already is a marvel at the worldwide box office. Final figures from distributor Disney on April 30 put the overseas haul for 'The Avengers' at $185.1 million since it began opening in 39 markets last week. That's nearly $7 million more than the studio had estimated on April 29.

Avengers shifts spotlight on 'Calcutta' squalor

Despite its negative portrayal in films, India remains an emerging market for foreign studios.

In a recent interview, producer Jeremy Latchman said he and director Joss Whedon wanted a hideout for physicist Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the green monster Hulk, and initially thought of a leper colony. But they ended up shooting the sequence in a New Mexico slum.

What is it that draws Hollywood to Indian poverty? Filmmakers such as Ryan Murphy (Eat Pray Love), John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and Roland Joffé (City of Joy) have been both felicitated and criticized for showing India as a spiritual destination and selling its poverty to ill informed Western audiences.

Despite its negative portrayal in films, India remains an emerging market for foreign studios looking to distribute their films to its billion plus target audience. According to a report in the Business Standard, Avengers, distributed by UTV Motion Pictures hit 800 Indian screens. It was also dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu - even wider than Avatar, till now the biggest Hollywood blockbuster here.

A wave of big budget Hollywood films is slated to hit the Indian screens this summer. Sony Pictures' Amazing Spider Man, that has Irrfan playing a role, is expected to see an even wider release in India with 1,000 prints, according to the BS report.

Then there are Men in Black 3, Madagascar 3, Dark Knight Rises, Ice Age:

Continental Drift, Rock of Ages and GI Joe 2 lined up throughout the busy summer. The film's other India connect is the theme song 'Hello Andheron' by the band Agnee.