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The Hulk’s hiding in a slum near you Calcutta, in the US

- The Avengers replicates city in New Mexico

Hollywood has created a squalor-filled Calcutta out of New Mexico before Mamata Banerjee could create a London out of Calcutta.

The opening scene of The Avengers, set to hit city screens this Friday, has the Hulk, a green-coloured monster with a foul temper that destroys everything and everyone in its way, living incognito in a slum and saving the family of an Indian woman afflicted with leprosy.

True to (stereo)type, any scene requiring a slum and the scourge of leprosy had to be set in Calcutta, or so the production team thought! So it was off to New Mexico with cast and crew to replicate a Calcutta slum for the Hulk to play the hero in hiding.

“Part of the movie takes place in India, which we think is very cool. We worked really closely with the Indian community in New Mexico, where we shot the movie, to recreate a very realistic version of India for the film,” said producer Jeremy Latchman.

In the Calcutta sequence, Zodiac star Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk is shown hiding in a slum as his alter ego Dr Bruce Banner and treating patients to atone for his past.

“Joss (Whedon, the director of The Avengers) and I were wondering, ‘So where is Bruce Banner?’ And I said, ‘I think he’s in a leprosy colony’.... It didn’t turn out to be a leprosy colony, but he’s in the slums in Calcutta, which I thought was a cool place to find him at,” Ruffalo said in a recent interview.

Touted as the biggest superhero saga of the year, The Avengers is based on the popular Marvel Comics series and has Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) joining hands with the Hulk to fight their common nemesis, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

“If I were blindfolded and brought to the production set in Arizona, I would think I was in Calcutta because Joss Whedon did a fantastic job depicting the congested, chicken and livestock-bred streets of Calcutta,” Indian-American actress Rashmi Rustagi, who plays the leprosy-afflicted woman, has been quoted as saying.

Besides the Calcutta connect, a music video for the film was composed by Indian band Agnee and played at its Los Angeles premiere. India will get to see the film, coming both in 2D and 3D, a week before the US.

Three years ago, Page One of James Cameron’s 146-page scriptment (script treatment) for his $300 million epic Avatar had described Earth in 2154 thus: “It looks like a cross between THX-1138 and a Calcutta train station.”

And now comes The Avengers, portraying a Calcutta that bears the cross of its reputation!