24 June 2006 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Krrish
The very first Indian movie I saw in its entirety as a kid, was Annamalai, starring Superstar Rajnikanth. Since then I was intrigued by Indian cinema, but never found the patience nor the time to sit through the standard fare of at least 2.5-3hrs of pure spectacle. On and off I caught bits and pieces of movies shown on TV, and the last Bollywood movie I saw mid-way, was Shah Rukh Khan's Asoka, and that's it.
Krrish is a sequel to the blockbuster Koi... Mil Gaya, also directed by Rakesh Roshan, but no worries if you haven't seen the first movie - you'll be brought up to speed in no time, and Krrish will also work if it stood alone. First off, it's a superhero movie combined with science fiction, so that was a plus point to have this movie reintroduce me to Bollywood once again. And it worked. With romance, action, and some comedy thrown into the mix, what can one ask for more for pure entertainment?
Those not familiar with Bollywood movies might balk at the length of Krrish - almost 5 minutes shy of 3 hours, which is quite standard runtime fare (there is a clearly marked "interval" in the movie, but it was not utilized here). But I tell you that you won't feel its length, and will actually secretly hope that it continues some more. The first hour dwelled on the introduction of our hero Krishna (Hrithik Roshan), a man born with extraordinary powers, whose grandmother Sonia took upon herself to shield him from a world awaiting to exploit his talent, if discovered. It's like a visit to the Kent farm, except that the whole grandmother- son relationship looked more at home vis-a-vis Spiderman's Aunt May and Peter Parker.
When Krishna meets Priya (the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000) by chance during her adventure holiday camp, and he becomes smitten with her, moving the movie towards a romance. She's the quintessential Singapore modern career girl, who puts career (or trying to salvage it) before love, and therein complicates matters of the heart when we get to the boy-momentarily-loses-girl bit. Plenty of drama in this area, though it doesn't dwell too long on it, increasing the pace for the action bits.
Those eager to see Krrish, the superhero, will have to wait almost 2 hours before he makes an appearance in full costume. He's like Jet Li's cousin Black Mask with the black outfit and abilities, but with a better looking facial piece to disguise his identity. But with or without costume, we see Krishna's prowess through various stunt and fight choreography enhanced by wirework from one of Hong Kong's stunt masters, Chen Siu-Tung, especially in his "qing gong" abilities to glide effortlessly through the air like Chinese martial artists. There's also a showpiece for Hrithik to demonstrate the kung-fu skills picked up, and the fights, if compared with other Bollywood movies, have toned down its cheesy sound effects and credibility issues because of its premise (if a superhero punches you, you'll definitely fly what).
And what's a Bollywood flick without song and dance? Yes, our hero sings and dances when romancing his love, from the mountains in India to the skyscrapers in Singapore, but he doesn't do so as his alter-ego Krrish (yup, just let the superhero stick to kicking serious rear). There are 5 beautiful songs in Krrish, and save for the one in the circus, the rest did not involve mass dancing by extras, which kept the focus purely on the leads. And the dance choreography was pretty amazing too, though I was surprised that Hrithik Roshan, given his muscular bulk, could dance so gracefully. Oh, did I mention Priyanka Chopra is gorgeous?
While the romance and action bit were interesting, the science fiction bit was unfortunately found wanting. Not that it was bad, but because it was too familiar. Adapting the same plot as Philip K Dick's Paycheck, the sets, premise and plot device looked exactly the same as John Woo's Paycheck movie - we have the evil Dr Arya (Naseeruddin Shah) building a supercomputer which can look into the future, and therefore becoming God himself. The evil lair too looked like Woo's underground lair in M:I2, complete with pigeons (no doves in Singapore).
For those who want to know more about the local landmarks used - Singapore Expo was used quite a bit, since it's large enough to be filmed at different areas passing off as different venues, even doubling up as Changi Airport's arrival hall entrance with smart editing. The Esplanade was another choice location as the HQ of a conglomerate run by Dr Arya, with National Library's Pod doubling as the penthouse office. There are many scenes with glass windows, which will clue you in on the location of the current setting. Other notable locations are the condos at Kallang, Shenton Way / Raffles Place, Lau Pa Sat (widely publicized during the shoot here), the Singapore River and our offshore islands.
Krrish reminded me that cinema is about the big spectacle, and I encourage anyone who's into song, dance, and especially those interested in seeing local landmarks make their way into movies, to give Krrish a shot. It made Singapore look sexy, and probably showed us a different angle in making an action movie here. While awaiting the arrival of Singer's Man of Steel, watch Krrish!