From the moment we’re first re-introduced to our masked superhero in Krrish 3, saving a airplane from an imminent crash in a scene reminiscent of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, it becomes clear that filmmaker Rakesh Roshan is challenging us to a game of ‘Name The Original’. Indeed Krrish 3 is a potpourri of set-pieces and characters plucked out of every superhero film to come out of Hollywood in the last ten years or so.
Reunited at the end of 2007’s Krrish, father-and-son Rohit and Krishna Mehra (both played by Hrithik Roshan) are now happily saving lives in their own way: Rohit by developing cures to deadly global viruses, and Krishna by secretly taking on the identity of Krrish when robbers barge into a jewelry store, or when a kid is dangling off cables between the roofs of tall buildings. Their world is complete, and their secret safe with Krishna’s wife Priya (Priyanka Chopra), who whispers into his ear at a party that she’s expecting their child, just so they can make a big song and dance about it.
But (in a scene ripped straight out of last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man) when Krrish releases an antidote to a virus that poses danger to an entire city, he evokes the anger of Kaal (Vivek Oberoi). A cross between Magneto and Professor Xavier from the X-Men movies, Kaal is a paralyzed super-villain stuck in a wheelchair, who can move objects with his mind, and commands a troop of mutants. Amongst his most loyal ‘maanwars’ is the catsuit-clad Kaya (Kangana Ranaut), a shape-shifting temptress modeled after Mystique, who delivers clunky dialogues like: “Alag, anokhi, adbud hoon main, kyunki mera koi ateet nahin.” Before you can blink, Kaya has fallen in love with Krishna, while taking on the identity of Priya.
Unlike Hollywood superheroes, each of whom come with their own comic book mythology and back-stories, Krrish’s roots are planted firmly in Rakesh Roshan’s fertile imagination. Which means there’s plenty 80s melodrama about daddy issues and brotherly bonds, and a lot of hullaballoo over the safety of Krishna’s unborn child. Yet it’s the film’s action scenes that keep you engaged. The special effects are nicely done in a confrontation between Krrish and three of Kaal’s mutants that ends with our hero ripping out the protruding tongue of the frog-like creature. You can’t help but cheer when Krrish lifts an entire portion of a skyscraper with his bare hands. And to be fair, the climatic duel between Kaal and Krrish alone is bang for your buck. Inspired no doubt from every recent Hollywood blockbuster in which an entire city is reduced to rubble, this sequence is nevertheless thrillingly shot and edited.
What there’s no getting away from, unfortunately, is the un-slickness of the entire affair. From junior artistes staring directly into camera, and dialogues that take you back decades, Krrish 3 is an unlikely cocktail of cool, shiny technology and outdated treatment. As the pasty-faced Kaal, Oberoi gets the cheesiest lines. Pointing to his maanwars, he declares in one scene: “Fusion is the future”. On another occasion, referring to the virus he intends to unleash, he says: “Logon ko thoda marne do; aur zyaada darne do.” But the film’s biggest letdown is Rajesh Roshan’s uninspired score – a string of stale tracks that fail to strike the right note.
It’s Hrithik Roshan who compensates for many of the film’s hiccups with an earnest, committed performance. He brings consistency in his portrayal of the lovable man-child Rohit, a part he first slipped into ten years ago in the far superior Koi Mil Gaya. As Krishna/Krrish, he’s impossibly buff with gleaming chest and abs, but there’s a depth of emotion that’s unmistakable. Watch how he quivers with anger, his entire being visibly shaken, when Kaya reveals an important secret to him. Hrithik fills out the superhero suit convincingly, and makes you care for the character even when everything around him is laughable.
The other impressive performance is from Kangana Ranaut, in the scene-stealing part of Kaya, who hits just the right balance between vulnerability and voluptuousness.
I’m going with two-and-a-half stars for the film, and an additional half star just for Hrithik Roshan, which makes it three out of five for Krrish 3. The film is ambitious but flawed. It is, however, consistently watchable for its terrific lead star who you can’t take your eyes off, even for a moment.