Saturday, 16 November 2013
Director: Rakesh Roshan
Writers: Rakesh Roshan, Honey Irani, Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khurana, Irfan Kamal
Producer: Rakesh Roshan
Cast: Hrith Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Vivek Oberoi
Year of release: 2013
Reviewed from: UK theatrical release
Seven years after Krrish, the first big budget, effects-filled Bollywood superhero blockbuster, here is Krrish 3. And I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking: what happened to Krrish 2? And the answer is: there wisnae one.
The direct sequel to Krrish is Krrish 3. Why? Because Krrish itself was a sequel to Koi... Mil Gaya, so the 2013 film is the third one in the series. There is a sort of precedent to this in that the sequel to Rambo was Rambo 3, because Rambo itself was actually called Rambo: First Blood Part 2. But I don’t see why they couldn’t have just classified Koi... Mil Gaya as Krrish Zero, especially as it’s a very different film. That 2003 picture was a heart-warming science fiction tale, whereas Krrish was a superhero film.
Well, partly a superhero film. Rewatching Krrish on DVD, I found I had forgotten quite how long it takes to pull its cape on. The whole of the first half is a romance between Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) and Priya (Pryanka Chopra), and even when they get to Singapore after the interval, there’s a lot of stuff before the circus fire that gives birth to Krishna’s alter ego.
But don’t worry, because Krrish 3 is a full-on, non-stop, action-packed superhero film. And as the poster makes clear, Krrish isn’t the only superhuman in this one. It looks like he’s got a whole team with him, a sort of Bollywood X-Men. In fact, posters poses notwithstanding, those other characters are the bad guys, which is not to say that there isn’t a very clear X-Men influence.
Krishna and Priya are now married and living with Rohit (also Hrithik Roshan, under excellent make-up), Krishna’s father who was believed dead for most of the previous film. Rohit is a sort of quasi-autistic super-genius working in a Government laboratory while Krishna is stumbling through a series of low-paid jobs - waiter, security guard - constantly being fired for taking unauthorised time off because of his need to don the mask and coat and go save someone. Priya is a TV journalist.
Our villain is Kaal (Vivek Oberoi, who was in a 2005 film actually called Kaal), a sort of cross between Professor X and Magneto. Paralysed from the neck down, fortunately he has telekinetic capability over metal objects. Which makes one wonder why he is stuck in his high-tech wheelchair. Why doesn’t he just make himself a metal exoskeleton and then use his telekinesis to move his arms and legs. I mean, I would do that? Wouldn’t you?
Kaal is the head of a huge pharmaceutical corporation, making himself even richer by creating artificial viruses, then coming to the rescue by ‘developing’ the antidotes which he sells to national governments. But his real goal is finding a way to cure his paralysis and for this purpose he has been fusing his DNA with that of various animals, producing a range of half-human, half-animal beings. It’s not clear entirely how he thinks this will cure him, but it does raise the noteworthy point that this makes Krrish 3 a sort of unofficial adaptation of The Island of Dr Moreau. He calls these beings... ‘manimals’ ... which of course brings to mind a cheesy 1980s TV show and is even cheesier now. Actually, that term is only ever used once and after that they are always called mutants, which is technically incorrect but hey, if it’s good enough for Brian Singer...
His muse is Kaya (Kangana Ranaut: Raaz: The Mystery Continues, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai), a sexy woman with chameleon DNA in her cells, enabling her to shapeshift (like Mystique, but without the scaly blue default setting). Since her clothes change too, that means the PVC bustier-catsuit she wears is actually part of her body, as is any other garment when she’s impersonating people. Although if it’s part of her body, why does she need those obvious flesh-coloured straps to stop it falling down embarrassingly when she’s jumping about.
Either the producers weren’t sure about chameleons or they just weren’t bothered about limiting her powers, so Kaya also does a weird stretchy, blobby thing in a couple of scenes (which, to be fair, could be a variant of shapeshifting). Not only that, she is also able to pass through solid matter like Kitty Pryde. This leads to one shot which must win a prize as the single most gratuitous use of a super-power ever, when Kaya walks through a curtain. I mean, really? We can all walk through curtains, love. You alter your molecular structure, and the rest of us just brush them out of the way. Kaya’s long hair is a single, big, thick ponytail which in one shot arches over her head, leading the inattentive viewer to think there is also a Scorpion Woman. But there isn’t. (Although perhaps there is, as Wikipedia lists Shaurya Chauhan as playing ‘Scorpion Woman’. But if there is, she’s never seen again and isn’t on the poster.)
There is a vaguely cat-like female mutant, credited as Cheetah Woman (Nazia Shaikh) and a couple of generically strong male mutants, Rhino Man (Daniel Kaleb) and one who looks feline but is apparently Ant Man (Sameer Ali Khan). None of these three do very much, to be honest. Most of the action is reserved for Striker (Gowhar Khan), who has frog DNA which gives him an absurdly long, prehensile tongue - exactly like Toad in the X-Men films. He also has the briefly seen ability to walk up walls so actually he’s probably not part-frog, maybe he’s part gecko instead. The film really milks the whole tongue thing, including one scene where he uses it to steal people’s ice creams from a distance.
Having tried out his deadly virus in Namibia, Kaal introduces it to Mumbai where Rohit notices that neither he nor Krishna are affected (Priya is also immune because she is pregnant and therefore has some of Krishna’s DNA inside her). Rohit manufactures an antidote from his own blood which Krrish is able to spread around the city super-quick. This angers and confuses Kaal, who used his own blood to manufacture the antidote he was hoping to sell to the Indian authorities. Which must mean that Krishna, Rohit and Kaal all share the same DNA...
An attack by the mutants on the family’s house ends up with Gecko-Man captured and Kaya impersonating Priya, who is being held in a secret location by Kaal. Krrish shows up at the house to fight the mutants and still nobody twigs that Krishna might actually be Krrish.
In a subplot, Krrish has become an idol to the people of Mumbai, who have erected an enormous statue of him, the opening ceremony of which is a big, fancy song and dance number. There are two other songs in the film: a big production number fairly early on at a surprise birthday party for Krishna, and a romantic duet filmed in the desert. The music (once again by Rajesh Roshan’s brother Rakesh) is a lot better than in the first (or second) Krrish movie and the dance routines a lot bigger and more entertaining. Having now made my own very tiny contribution to Bollywood by helping with a dance sequence in Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, I can very much appreciate all the extras standing at the back of the big routines, waving their arms.
Eventually Krishna realises that Priya is not Priya but by then Kaya has seen the error of her ways and realised that love is better than hate or somesuch. So the two set off to Kaal’s mountaintop lair to rescue Priya and the now-kidnaped Rohit. In the ensuing set-piece battle, we briefly see one more mutant, a chap with a big spike on his arm. He was not in the earlier introduce-the-manimals scene and didn’t make it onto the posters either. The credits reveal that he is Swordfish Man (Amrit Pal Singh), possibly introduced to make up for the absence of Scorpion Woman. I guess there is a level at which supervillains become too ridiculous, even for Bollywood.
The film’s real climax is a big set-piece between Kaal and Krrish whose powers have been vastly expanded due to something that happened back at the lair. As the two flying superbeings smash their way through skyscrapers, the influence of Man of Steel is obvious except that, unlike Superman, Krrish shows genuine concern for all the ordinary folk being killed and injured through collateral damage as he goes mano a mano with Kaal. Krrish 3 scores over Bladder of Steel in another important way: it’s about as long but has a convenient ten-minute toilet break halfway through.
Despite the high level of action, Krrish 3 also has plenty of time for morals and relationships, with a strong theme of ‘family’ running through it (as indeed had the two earlier films). There is also a theme of community, with Krrish telling a little boy that he is part of ‘Team Krrish’ and giving him a wrist-band which other characters also wear. A stand-off between a crowd, led by Priya and that same little boy, against over-confident Kaal (before Krrish shows up) owes an obvious debt to the scene in Spider-Man where ordinary New Yorkers stand up for Spidey. The action and the non-action is well-integrated throughout Krrish 3 in a genuinely fine script.
It goes without saying that the effects are even better than they were in Krrish: genuine state-of-the-art stuff which stands comparison with most Hollywood blockbusters. This has undoubtedly contributed to the global success of this film, which took over half a million pounds in its first week in UK cinemas and about half that again the following week. In India itself, Krrish 3 took more in its second week than many of the year’s other big films have taken in their opening week.
It does have a good story, it does have terrific effects, it does have cool (if derivative) supervillains, it does have fantastic action sequences, but at the heart of Krrish 3’s success are three superb performances by two actors. Oberoi is magnificently wicked, especially in the first three-quarters of the film when he is trapped in his wheelchair and can move nothing except his head and two fingers (dude, build an exo-skeleton... oh, what’s the point?). And Roshan is just extraordinary, playing both gawky, naive, brilliant Rohit and determined, anguished, powerful Krishna/Krrish. Brilliant direction by his father Rakesh Roshan combines with adroit use of doubles, invisible green-screen composites and world-class editing by Chandan Arora to convince us entirely that these are two separate people, despite their many scenes together. Dual roles in so many movies are played as novelties - ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if he met himself?’ - but here it is expediency. I doubt that Roshan pere et fils set out ten years ago to make a movie where Hrithik would spend much of his screen time talking to himself (in a very different role) but the narrative development of the first two films has led inexorably to this one.
One other thing also counts towards the film’s box office success, I suspect. Hrithik Roshan, now 39, has been working out and looks even fitter and hunkier than he did when he was 29 or 32. There are a couple of shirtless scenes where his pecs and six -pack will have all the girlies swooning.
Unless you have some pathological aversion to Bollywood, Krrish 3 is a must-see film. A handy repris of the first two pictures at the start ensure that you don’t even have to have seen them to enjoy this one. It’s a belter of a superhero film which I enjoyed a lot more than several Hollywood superhero flicks of recent years, and I can’t wait for Krrish 4.
MJS rating: A