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Krrish

Rakesh Roshan's sequel to his madly successful sci-fi extravaganza "Koi ... mil gaya" pilfers "ideas" from multiple Hollywood comicbook sagas with beaming insouciance. Enjoyable, daffily improbable escapist romp further expands Bollywood's pop genre repertoire.

With:
With: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Sharat Saxena, Naseeruddin Shah, Heymant Pandey, Maninee Mishra, Gin Xia. (Hindi, English dialogue)

A runaway hit in India, where its homegrown title superhero “Krrish” will likely out-gross the much-touted “Superman Returns” import, Rakesh Roshan’s sequel to his madly successful sci-fi extravaganza “Koi … mil gaya” pilfers “ideas” from multiple Hollywood comicbook sagas with beaming insouciance. Not content to walk on water, swing through forests at supersonic speed, and demolish a cricket field with a single ball, Krishna (reigning heartthrob Hrithik Roshan) also sings and dances divinely as romance decidedly trumps deeds of derring-do for most of the pic’s 172 minutes. Enjoyable, daffily improbable escapist romp further expands Bollywood’s pop genre repertoire.

Fearing the discovery and exploitation of her very “special” young grandson Krishna, Sonia (Rekha) whisks the boy off to the hinterlands. There, the plump little geek develops into a gorgeous hunk who communes with animals and smiles contentedly at all creation.

When a beautiful career woman named Priya (Priyanka Chopra) drops, Jane-like, into his life via a parachute, Krishna disappears into the trees to play childish tricks on her and her friends, occasioning numerous duets as the couple frolics through the jungle.

But Priya works for a media company, and, when her job is threatened, she lures Krishna to Singapore, ostensibly to meet her mother but in reality to peddle her newfound “superboy” discovery.

Before he goes, however, Sonia tells Krishna that his father was betrayed by an evil scientist, triggering flashbacks to “Koi … mil gaya” and to Krishna’s dad, who looks exactly like him (not too surprisingly, since Hrithik played his progenitor in the previous film).

Krishna promises his grandmother that he’ll hide his extraordinary lights under a bushel.

Not until more than half-way through the film does Krishna’s alter-ego, Krrish, finally materialize, his zigzag half-mask and shiny black coat disguising him even less effectively than Clark Kent’s dorky homburg and glasses. After a big musical number, a three-ring Bombay circus showstopper, Krrish appears on cue to save children trapped in a burning tent — performing a death-defying rescue that may be the only thing that could top the just-wrapped song.

Thesping is engaging, aside from Miss World 2000 Chopra’s vapid posing (though, to be fair, it is hard to maintain any tonal continuity while changing costumes more frequently than one changes expressions).

Rekha brings depth to her role as the nurturing grandmother, and Naseeruddin Shah, as the power-mad corporate scientist Dr. Arya, has great fun chewing up the futuristic scenery.

But it is helmer’s real-life son and sexy box office draw Hrithik Roshan who carries the would-be franchise on his well-developed shoulders; it’s hard to imagine anyone else infusing the impossibly artless jungle boy with enough charm to last the course. Hrithik even pulls off the pic’s wilder absurdities with considerable panache.

Special effects are well-chosen to highlight the hero’s litheness and grace. Action sequences are ingeniously choreographed by legendary Chinese stunt maven Siu-Tung Ching (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”) though with less lethal flair than usual in this extremely kid-friendly ubermench exercise.

Krrish

India

Production: A Filmkraft production. Produced, directed by Rakesh Roshan. Screenplay,Sachin Bhowmik, Honey Irani, Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khurana, Roshan.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Santosh Thundiyil; editor, Amitabh Shukla; music, Rajesh Roshan; lyrics, Ibraheem Ashk, Nasir Faraaz, Vijay Akela; background score, Salim-Sulaiman; art director, Samir Chanda; sound (Dolby Digital), Baylon Fonesca, Nakul Kamte; special effects supervisors, Mark Kolbe, Craig Mumma; action directors, Tony Siu-Tung Ching, Sham Kaushal. Reviewed at New York Asian Film Festival, June 22, 2006. Running time: 172 MIN.

With: With: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Sharat Saxena, Naseeruddin Shah, Heymant Pandey, Maninee Mishra, Gin Xia. (Hindi, English dialogue)

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