Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Krrish 3: A Review


I was looking to see if 12 Years A Slave had hit my hometown of El Paso, TX. when I came upon a listing for something called Krrish 3.  My curiosity was piqued.  Krrish 3?  What's that, I asked myself.

I did the Lazy Person's Guide to Knowledge (Google to Wikipedia) and read this description of the film at the Fount of All Wisdom: "Krrish 3 is a 2013 Bollywood superhero science-fiction film..." and said, "I'm THERE!"  Who wouldn't want to see a "Bollywood superhero science-fiction film" that's the third part to a series whose first two films (Koi...Mil Gaya or in English I...Found Someone and Krrish) I had neither seen or heard of?  If I am to be correct Krrish 3 is technically the first Bollywood film I've seen since the three films I've seen with Mahesh Babu (Dookudu, The Business Man, and SVCV) are Tollywood films made in Telugu as opposed to Bollywood films made in Hindi.

Semantics, says I. 

Krrish 3 is derivative of other superhero films.  You have a bit of Spider-Man, a heavy helping of the X-Men films, and some Superman/Man of Steel thrown in with some musical numbers (of which no respectable Bollywood film could be without).  Those of us raised on comic book-based films may quibble with the fact that Krrish 3 is almost either shameless or gleeful about taking from their American counterparts, but I freely confess to having enjoyed Krrish 3 (though like all Indian films, finding the length rather punishing).

At least for those of us who never saw Koi...Mil Gaya or Krrish we are given something of a recap.  Rohit Mehra (Hrithik Roshan) was a sweet boy who was 'limited' in intelligence.  Bullied for being slow-witted he prayed to a Hindu deity to make him better.  From this, he has an encounter with Jadoo, an alien with whom he both keeps secret and becomes friends with (thus the charge that it comes close to being the Indian E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial).  This alien allows Rohit to become a brilliant scientist while still being a bit of an innocent.  He later marries and has a son, Krishna (Roshan in a dual role), but Rohit is also abducted and used to try to take over the world.  Krishna, who has superpowers thanks to Papa Rohit, rescues his father and later marries the beautiful Priya (Priyanka Chopra), a journalist.  During his time, Krishna adopts the nom de superhero of Krrish, who has super-strength and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

So, back to our story.  Krishna finds it hard to keep a job because every time Mumbai is threatened some guy in a black mask and long leather coat has to jump in and save it...and for some reason Krishna keeps disappearing or showing up late for work.  Mrs. Mehra, fully aware of his secret, I figure makes enough for all of them, and Papa Rohit has a good job at the government science & medical lab.  Krishna's secret identity is safe, given that his friend Kripal (Rajpal Yadav) believes HE is Krrish (don't ask how that is possible, just go with it).

Any resemblance to any (fictional) character,
human or mutant, is purely coincidental...
However, there is evil afoot.  The villainous Kaal (Vivek Oberoi), a billionaire wheelchair-bound but with the power to move things with his mind and two functioning fingers, is determined to walk again.  This Lex Luthor/Magneto/Charles Xavier mix with a hint of Davros from Doctor Who even has his own Mystique, Kaya (Kangna Ranaut), a seductive woman who can take the shape of anyone she wants.  She was the first of Kaal's mutants, beings he created in the hopes of unlocking the ability to walk again.  Kaya is fiercely loyal to Kaal, who if nothing else keeps trying by making more mutants.  He has to have them do SOMETHING, so why not be his Minions?

Well, as Krrish saves children from their foolishness and becoming a hero to all Mumbai Kaal hits on a genius idea: he will release a poison on a population, then come up with an antidote for which nations will pay billions.  His test case on Namibia is just for starters.  He has his eyes set on a nation of billions.  Any guess which nation he picks?

The disease kills thousands, putting all of India at risk.  Rohit works to find a cure, then finds something curious...neither he or Krishna are affected.  Could that be a clue?  Wouldn't you know: their blood provides the antidote.  In gratitude, Rohit is praised and Krrish, who delivered it all across Mumbai, has a statue dedicated to him.  Krishna is already in a good mood: Priya is pregnant.  Kaal is furious that his plans have been thwarted, and he zeroes in on the Mehra family.  The men think Priya has lost the baby, but in truth she's been abducted by Kaal and secretly replaced by Kaya.  However, spending time with Rohit and Krishna has her loyalty to Kaal waver, to where she sees the evil she has done and decided to switch sides.

A final confrontation to save both Priya and India takes place across two continents, where people die (including Krrish for a while) but in the end, even after we discover the secret connection between Kaal and Rohit and the former goes on a rampage, all ends well with Priya rescued and the baby safe.  Six months later, they have a son, whom they name Rohit...and who appears to have powers of his own...

One thing that surprised me about Krrish 3 was the lack of musical numbers.  It's not that it didn't have musical numbers or that they (with perhaps one exception) either weren't good or shock of shocks--relevant to the plot.  It's just that there weren't that many.  As someone who has been led to believe that Bollywood films stop every fifteen minutes to allow someone to lip-sync a big, lavish song-and-dance number Krrish 3 has only three songs (four if you count the title song which appears in the closing credits).  For my money, the best number is God Allah Aur Bhagwan, as big and lavish and colorful as one could ask for from a Bollywood film (or a Westerner's idea of said project), coming after the Intermission (yes, Indian films still have intermissions).  It's a positive song, once you look at the translation, which says that God (however you define Him, hence "God, Allah, and Bhagwan") has given us a figure (that being Krrish) to do good.  The production value also has it be bright and beautifully rendered.  The melody itself is also quite pleasant, and the whole thing is delightful.  It's also a credit to the production that Roshan in the dual roles of Rohit and Krishna blend well to where we accept they are two different people.

The first song, Rahgupati Raghav, is similarly at least something that doesn't interfere with the storyflow.  It is sung at Krishna's birthday party where he has just learned he is going to be a father.  That ought to make anyone break out in song.   It's a fun, zippy number which is in the jolly spirit of most of Krrish 3.

It's the third and final number, Dil Tu Hi Bataa, that I felt it could have been cut out.  Granted, I understand the reason for the number (Kaya's wavering feelings over both Krishna and the whole 'being Kaal's henchman' business), but one wonders whether the romanticism of the song undercuts what she is trying to say.  It is the only number that feels a bit forced, but it does give us yet another chance to enjoy the heaving manhood that IS Hrithik Roshan.  Technically, there was only one scene where Roshan was shirtless, but in this last number we got to see him with his shirt open (I guess that's close enough).  It is clear that Roshan worked out furiously to build up a great physique (not unlike, say, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine), so I figure he wanted to show us what he could do.

That, however, might be a bit dismissive towards Roshan as an actor.  He did what all good actors do: transform to the needs of the character.  His whole physicality as the endearing yet bumbling and naïve Rohit were in such contrast to the confident Krrish and the generally upbeat Krishna that one soon forgot that the three were played by one man.  Even the voice changed, and in three roles Roshan did not fail any of them.   Roshan was wonderful in each role (and I confess to having a soft spot for the sweet-natured Rohit).  The final scene of Roshan as Rohit was so moving that it does become emotional.

I think Oberoi was having a hoot as the wildly over-the-top villain: a battle between Oberoi's blue eyes and Roshan's green eyes.  He was so calm and cool as the nefarious Kaal that when he goes all psycho as he lays waste to Mumbai it doesn't quite become comical but let's say it becomes more comic-book.  I also loved Ranaut's Mystique...I mean, Kaya, and her story arc from venomous villain to sympathetic character was believable.  Chopra was beautiful but also effective as the journalist/wife, though getting the 'abducted & held prisoner' story did make her a 'damsel in distress' and less of a real participant for most of the second half.  However, she did have her moment in the end where she stands up to a clearly-deranged Kaal.

Really, Oberoi LOVED being evil!

Another plus in Krrish 3's column is the special effects.  While on occasion you could see that they were a bit below par on the whole they held up against American productions (certainly more believable than anything in After Earth).  I do note that Krrish 3 had great lines.  "The business of fear is the best business," Kaal tells his mutants and his mad-scientists.  A response from Krrish to a young fan also gives basically his life-view: "Age does not matter; courage does."

A minus is the story itself.  Again, it is almost impossible to watch Krrish 3 WITHOUT thinking that it at the very least an 'homage' to comic book films, particularly the X-Men films (right down to the mutants).  This is why I referred to her as the Indian Mystique...the character is simply too similar to believe it was an original creation.  Even the use of the term 'mutants' ought to stir debate.  The comedy bits didn't quite work (why would Kripal honestly think HE was Krrish when there was no evidence to think as such).

On the whole, Krrish 3 I imagine will not be liked by people who think it is a rip-off of the Marvel/DC film library.   However, with some good musical numbers and a good story (though the final battle did seem endless), Krrish 3 is a film I found enjoyable and worth watching, subtitled or not.

And also, it was much better than After Earth or The Big Wedding...

Born 1974
Hugh Better Watch Out...


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