The nation needs a superhero. Some try to bring one back from the pages of history, make a big statue and, through it all, generate political capital. Some create a superhero from imagination, make a big statue of him on film, and from that generate actual capital.
Like Rakesh Roshan. And his immortal “Krrish” (the only superhero with a numerically correct name) franchise, which may miss a number (Krrish 1 is followed by 3) but never an opportunity for nifty surrogate advertising. Products dot the landscape of Krrish 3, like pictures of Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at a Congress convention, and had not the movie been so stupendously original and exciting, one might have thought that more attention was given on product placement than things like plot, characterization and dramatic conflict.
Fortunately, that is not the case. Krrish is stupendously original, in every sense of the term.
I won’t go into the details of the story, which is immensely convoluted and multi-layered and highly scientific with DNA and lenses and “intelligent filters” , except to say that it entails a black-lipsticked, Gothic super-villain Kaal (played with undiluted grand-masti by Viv-however-he-spells-his-name-iek Oberoi) unleashing mayhem on the world through badass rhymes like “Is vangsh ka koi angsh rahena naheen doonga main” (Note to BJP: “Copy” right this line), with Krrish and his father (all twenty-two fingers, being played both by Hrithik Roshan), belonging to the aforementioned vangsh, standing in his way.
However what I would like to talk about, in a bit of detail, are the allegations made, by certain reviewers, that parts of the movie are not wholly original. Actually almost none of it. This is very obviously a canard spread by people jealous they can’t have Hrittik Roshan’s abs and/or are Khan fans. For example, take Kaal, the super-villain. Critics have pointed out that he is a cross between Magneto and Professor Xavier. This is because he has telekinetic abilities and is also confined to a wheelchair, (“Kaal gaale ke neeche bejaan hai, sirf haath ki do unglion ko chorkar”, which incidentally is a condition that afflicts some desi bachelor men in India, atrophied as they become through disuse and misuse). What they fail to realize is that the genius and the originality lies in putting, Magneto and the Professor together in one character, like taking chocolate and vanilla and creating a new flavor called “Two In One”. Sure some of the sequences look mildly (actually a lot) similar to stuff we have seen in X Men, (Liberty Island, Grand Central station set-pieces come to mind) but it is “adapted for India” which means the backdrop is Indian and the names have become all Indianized—Mystique becomes Kaya, Toad and Sabertooth looks sufficiently desi (as a matter of fact, Toad here endearingly steals ice-creams because nothing spells evil for Krrish’s target audience more than he who steals icecreams), and XMen are called Manwars ( a cross between manav and jaanwar, for those of you who need everything spelled out for them). This mapping is no mean feat.
Here is where the problem is. Critics are so busy trying to find out the parallels and the gotchas (“Aha I saw that in Spiderman”) that they fail to appreciate where Krrish blazes a new path. Sure, Krrish’s costume is a cross between Neo’s and Zorro’s and Gimp’s from “Pulp Fiction”. And sure, when his black cape flutters and he holds his pose before flying, it is exactly like Neo.
But, sirs and madams, why no plaudits for Kaal’s costume, the one he gets once he gets his legs back? That’s pure originality, because I do not recall a supervillian costume which makes the wearer look like yesterday’s hotdog wrapped in an aluminum foil, ready for the microwave. One can see the Robocop origins but this one is totally whack.
Which brings me back to the point. While cribbing and carping over minute details, these critics have missed the woods for the trees. They have failed to laud the dramatic conflict between a man confined to a wheelchair and another man who jumps about skyscrapers like he was bitten by a radio-active grasshoper, nor have they appreciated the sinister meaning behind the voice over’s words “Usne janwaron ko choona proyog ke liye.”
And then there are the performances. While Priyanka Chopra continues playing the “American teenager” character she has perfected through the “Chipchip” commercial and Roshan is as absolutely abstatic as ever and Oberoi really darkens his lips, the standout performance is of Kangana Ranaut, playing Kaya, born of “girgit” DNA. In cleavage baring attire (a hat-tip to the great superhero-creator “Stan” Lee), she uses her Kaya to good effect, no where more than when she comes into Arif Zakaria’s office in a sexy mood. Which then leads to my favorite part of Krrish, where once Kaya assumes the face and kaya of Arif Zakaria, we are treated to Arif Zakaria playing Kangana Ranaut, complete with a come-hither look. What special effects, and that too without any computers. On the topic of special effects, they are exquisite too, reminding me of olden simpler days when the hero would drive the car and sing, and it would be obvious that the foreground and the background don’t really match. I am sure a lot of SFX went into giving the film that retro feel. And just when I felt things couldnt get any more awesome, there is Mohnish Behl in a cameo and your faith in humanity is restored.
In any case, forget the critics. And the “originality” Nazis. Who cares about them anyways? What’s important is that the movie is a mega hit. The public have spoken. Through their wallets.
And why wouldn’t they?
Hum sab mein Krrish hai.