I never thought the words “this is worse than Krrish!” would leave my mouth, but by golly Krrish 3 did it! Although at least it was fun-bad, not anger-inducing-bad like Ki & Ka.
Also, I realized halfway through the film, every single cast member has been part of a massive potentially career ending scandal! Viviek, Priyanka, and now Hrithik and Kangana. And heck, Rekha in the original! But not Priety. Unless I am forgetting something. She had the mob testimony thing, the messy Ness Wadia break-up, the bad plastic surgery, but I don’t remember any really really huge thing.
(moviemavengal is more forgiving than me in her review)
You ready for my biggest laugh of the whole film? Before it started, when the black screen had the words “Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.” You know, so they wouldn’t get sued by all those real life flying alien powered super beings.
Of course, if anyone was going to sue them, it would be Marvel studios for all the many many many Avengers/X-Men ripoff scenes. Or, the makers of Blackmail, for the whole sun-powered battery idea which Old Hrithik stole from Dharmendra!
(Why wasn’t I just watching Blackmail? It’s such a good movie! Raakhi+Dharmendra+Shatrughan Sinha > Priyanka+Hrithik+Viviek)
And it wasn’t even a good Hollywood ripoff! Why was I just talking about this? Oh right, Airlift and Argo. Airlift and Argo are a great example of a real “inspired by” kind of ripoff. A filmmaker sees a film made by someone else, and is inspired by the mood and feel of it to create their own version. I think Koi Mil Gaya is another example of this, actually. It’s like ET, and Flowers for Algernon, and a bunch of other things. But it is different. It has the same mood, but it goes in a very different direction, and has very different themes.
But this felt, for the most part, more like just a lazy ripoff. Like a cheap cash in on the Hollywood superhero trend with nothing unique to India added. Even the version of Bombay in the film was just a huge antiseptic mall, it could have been any American suburb just as easily. The big sentimental Krrish statue was located in the courtyard in front of a McDonald’s!
This is setting aside all the technical ways that it was just a terrible movie. Like, constant static camera angles, confusing spatial placement, terrible dialogue, high school drama quality acting, and not nearly enough extras in the action sequences. This is a Bombay where the same random child will be saved by Krrish in one scene, then show up at the “city-wide” celebration in another, and then personally confront the villain at the finale. Because the city of Bombay appears to only have about a 100 people, so of course he is at every event. (yes, I am aware that they added this character so kids in the audience would have someone to relate to. But put in a little effort to explain why it is always the same kid, filmmakers! Does he obsessively track Krrish news? Does he live right around the corner from the statue? Is there some reason related to his initial rescue that the statue was placed there?)
Let me go back to Koi Mil Gaya for a moment. The reason it worked is that, at heart, it was about a single mother raising a special needs child. And a developmentally delayed man falling in love for the first time. All the alien, super-powers, flying basketball game stuff was just extra. And everything supported that, the directing, the script, and the performances.
Hrithik in Koi Mil Gaya really does a wonderful job, it was his first performance where I actually felt like he was acting, not just mugging. I think because it was so physical? He was able to use his dancers body to show emotions and character development and all sorts of cool things. And Rekha was perfect as the dignified mother who dedicated her life to her son. Even Preity was perfect! All bubbly and caring, but with a core of self-respect and strength. If it had just been a movie about the 3 of them navigating Hrithik’s changing emotions and needs, with no aliens or super powers or cheesy special effects, I would have been perfectly happy.
(This is all the special effects I need)
And then Krrish came along and dumped all the social drama and depth and replaced it with more special effects! Suddenly instead of being this tragic flawed hero, Hrithik became Mr. Perfect All-Star No Mistakes Ever. And instead of having a strong woman to guide him, and another strong woman to inspire him, he just had Rekha somewhere in the background occasionally giving him advice (which he would ignore), and Priyanka screaming a lot. And then in the end it turns out he doesn’t need either of them after all, because he has a Father. Which is the most important thing.
Moviemavengal pointed out in her review that the original Indian element in this film, added into all the Hollywood ripoff scenes and plots, is the way it turns on a family story. And that’s true. The whole idea of the X-Men is that the mutation can form within anyone, and it often leads to the mutants being rejected from their families. And the characters in The Avengers all have weird family backstories. Actually, they are all orphans, aren’t they? Thor wasn’t to begin with, but after Thor 2 both his parents are dead. Do you think it’s because it’s a Disney property now? All their heroes have to be orphans?
But the meaning that American superheroes films have crafted out of this is that all these miss-matched lonely unhappy individuals come together to form a new family in their team (“Just as America is a melting pot and a country of immigrants, blah blah blah, [obvious thematic meanings]”). But in Krrish 3, it’s all about blood, isn’t it? Like, literally, blood is the plot MacGuffin. But also, that’s what gives people powers, makes them important, how they relate to each other. Blood relationships are everything. Especially on the male line.
Let’s count how many father’s we have here! There’s Old Hrithik. There’s Young Hrithik (now that Priyanka is pregnant). There’s Evil Viviek and his lab creations. There’s Mohnish Behl, Viviek’s adopted father in his one sad scene. There’s the father stuck in traffic who’s dying daughter tries to help him. And then let’s count the mothers! There’s……Rekha and Priety’s photos in the background of one scene? Priyanka-the-incubator? That random woman in a sari who is the mother of the Only Young Boy in Bombay? That other random woman in a salwar who drops her baby at the mall?
(Speaking of Evil Viviek, am I the only one who started getting this song in their head every time someone called him “Kaal”?)
I’m not saying the movie is anti-feminist or something (although it probably is), just that this is another way in which it is being lazy. It feels like the filmmakers are just using the father-son relationship as shorthand, that instead of digging into how the father-son-mother trinity would work, or the father-son-daughter relationship, or the adopted father-son-birth father issues, they are just going with “blood trumps all and every father and son relates in the exact same way, and no one else relates to each other at all ever!”
I really started to notice it in the one scene that stood out as an actual interaction between two people who WEREN’T a father and son. Right after “Priyanka” comes back from the hospital post-attack and “miscarriage”, she is standing on the balcony of their house. And Hrithik comes out and sort of mugs for her, trying to cheer her up. And it works! It doesn’t feel like he is going “I’m Hrithik Roshan! Look at me, pretending to be a superhero!” It feels like he is actually connecting and trying to communicate with another person. It stood way out from all their other scenes together, which were more about marking time until the song/action scene would start, not about actually building a connection between the two characters.
Which brings me back to the technical issues! Since the father-son relationship is paramount, that means the relationship between Old Hrithik and Young Hrithik is the most important. And, since they are played by the same actor, their scenes have some unique technical issues. I really noticed this having just seen Fan (going for the 6th time tonight!). In Fan, they balanced huge technical advances that made it feel like the characters were really in the same room, with a script and performance that served to build their connection even when they weren’t in the same room. But in Krrish 3, there were just lots of scenes with them on opposite sides of a table, or a room. But it was the performances that really suffered. Or rather, how the two Hrithik performances were put together.
He actually did a pretty good job creating the confident and open and happy Krrish and contrasting him with the damaged and nervous and sweet Rohit. But the technology just did not support him. Little things like eye line matches that didn’t quite work, dialogue which didn’t overlap, a screen framing with an exact line down the middle between the two characters, they all just made the interactions between Rohit and Krrish feel artificial. I found the Rohit voice over at the end more touching than anything else, because it felt more real to hear his voice echoing while watching Krrish’s face, than any of their previous in person interactions had felt.
Let’s see, what else? Oh! The actual reason I was watching the movie! Kangana and Hrithik! She really didn’t have much to do, did she? Which goes back to my previous issue, that no one had much to do except for Hrithik, Other Hrithik, and maybe Viviek. Not a very textured character map.
My friend who saw Krrish 3 years ago, maybe even when it first came out, told me that Kangana was like the platonic ideal of the “vamp” character cured by a good man. Which is so true! Oh my gosh! In fact, both woman are that. Priyanka is Mother, and that’s it! Her only function in terms of plot is to incubate Hrithik’s child. And then Kangana slips in to play all the dangerous uncontrolled aspects of femininity. Ambition, violence, sexuality, etc. etc. She’s literally supposed to be an animal. Until, of course, she is cured by one kiss from Hrithik, which turns her into a saintly and devoted woman. But not a wife, because she is still the “evil” one, the one who can die tragically and be redeemed in death. You know, the one Marlene Dietrich always played in Hollywood movies.
(Best character in Destry Rides Again, and so much more chemistry with Jimmy Stewart than boring old Irene Harvey. But she’s a dance hall girl, so she has to die)
That’s what I find interesting in terms of the current gossip going around about Hrithik and Kangana. We keep trying to fit it into that same frame. That Sussanne was the saintly wife, Kangana was the demonic other woman, and Hrithik is the man who can control both of them through his magical manly powers (as we see here, when one kiss is enough to convince Kangana to change sides).
But, it doesn’t quite fit. Sussanne isn’t exactly a saintly wife. No slam at her, just she’s not so much “sitting at home in a sari popping out sons” but more “running her own business, going to parties, wearing jeans and t-shirts, and open to divorce if the marriage isn’t working any more”. And Kangana isn’t exactly “demonic other woman suddenly controlled by true love”. It’s more “Grown woman who had been in love before and could take care of herself, and was not being controlled by Hrithik or any other man”.
We want to make it into a love triangle like we see onscreen. And we pick sides based on that version of the story. If you see yourself more like a devoted wife, you are going to side with Sussanne, and talk about how she was betrayed and laud her current loyalty. You are going to ignore the possibility that their marriage was already in trouble and there may have been issues on both sides (thus the divorce), and that her current actions may not be blind wifely devotion (remember, divorce!), but just practical friendly concern.
If you see yourself more as the wild and powerful other woman, you are going to side with Kangana. Talk about how she is so cool and unconventional. But ignore that her goal (according to all sides) was a traditional marriage to Hrithik.
And if you see yourself more as a powerful and still youthful man, you are going to side with Hrithik. Talk about how he can’t help these women falling in love with him, take some secret pride in the thought of a middle-aged married man still being that attractive. But ignore that Hrithik isn’t exactly the guy who can control women through the spell of his magic sexuality, but a guy whose wife left him without a backward glance.
This film is interesting to watch right now, because it sets up the pattern of how people are thinking about this scandal. But that pattern is just as fictional as a flying superhero or an alien with magical solar powers.