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Often in Indian cinema the hero’s physical strength and abilities are accused of being exaggerated at the excuse of being cinematic. But watching a season of ‘Stan Lee’s Superhumans’, a History Channel series, we learn that there is much more that the human body can endure than we can even fathom, and the human mind in its full potential is capable of extraordinary functions and most of all, the strength of the human spirit alone is sufficient to overcome all the odds that stack up against an individual who is nothing more than a ‘regular Joe’.

Vikram’s highly anticipated ‘Thaandavam’ features his role inspired by Daniel Kish, a practitioner of echolocation,  much like Juan Ruiz aka ‘Radar’ who was featured on the show for the same ability. Having been born blind, Ruiz now amazingly is able to sense objects, obstacles and pretty much visualize his surroundings just by processing sonic information through his ears. It’s quite obvious that Ruiz didn’t want his disability to set him back from being independent and therefore ensured to make the most of his other sensories in a way that we could never imagine was humanly possible.

Now, an article covering superhuman abilities and Tamil cinema would be incomplete without mentioning Captain Vijaykanth. The scene from ‘Narasimha’ where Captain is strapped to an electric chair and subjected to high voltage while he barely breaks a sweat will forever remain in our memories for the sake of amusement or for making us cringe with embarrassment.

Was it exaggerated? Yes. Is it impossible? Not quite!

Raj Mohan Nair of Kerala, also featured on Stan Lee’s show is capable of surviving electric shock that is 30 times more than what the human body can withstand earning himself the moniker ‘Electro Man’. Scientific results reveal that Nair’s body is far more resistant than a normal human. Only goes to show that we sometimes underestimate our own potential and thereby set the same standards for our stars on the screen.

The contention here is not to prove the existence of such extraordinary abnormalities but to credit the individuals’ unrelenting spirit that has made it possible for them to push the scope of their mind, body and all sense of theories beyond belief. Script writers should look no further for cues for an inspiring tale. Some of these individuals were driven by the necessity to adapt and then there are others who are just naturally gifted. The common underlying theme amidst all these jaw dropping feats is how these individuals have displayed that relentless human spirit which could overcome limitations set by nature, scientific theories and our own selves.

The success of our favourite matinee idols must be attributed to, amongst other things, their embodiment of the famous ad copy ‘Impossible is nothing’. We can forgive them for the exaggeration at the cost of driving home that positive message and they should be credited for reassuringly giving us a sense of hope and fulfilment that spirited efforts can overcome the gravest misfortunes or achieve the near impossible which is the one real big take away. So the next time you go watch a commercial fare, sceptical of the gimmicks the hero pulls off, stop trying to make sense of it because there are things that still continue to defy science and logic, like the undying human spirit. Now try and explain that!

‘Stan Lee’s Superhumans’ is a documentary TV series telecasted on The History Channel.

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