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A super spirited Hrithik!

By Sukanya Verma
Last updated on: June 23, 2006 18:49 IST
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I have no superpowers. I wear no masks. I have no murdered parents to avenge, and no alien godfathers passing on generous gifts of supreme strength to me. I am a measly mortal who makes up for these inadequacies by watching movies about people I will never be.

For many years, comic book heroes in movie adaptations satiated this need. Superman, Batman, He-Man, Spiderman, The Hulk – they all stood high on moral ground, following the strict code of denying the use of powers for selfish purposes.

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Now, a more emotional and less inspired counterpart has arrived in their midst. His name is K. Krrish is his masked alter ego. He doesn't have a history of super heroism, and is actually a follow-up to an alien film called Koi…Mil Gaya about his daddy Rohit Mehra (Hrithik Roshan)

As a kid, Krishna is a fair, plump, extra smart and super-intelligent lad, which sets the panic buttons of his grandmother (Rekha, slouching in gait but lip-liner in place) moving. She disconnects him from school and society and becomes his, as Krrish puts it, "school, college and university." Thankfully she doesn't discontinue the roly-poly sonny's daily intake of Bournvita.

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Grandma's move to Manali is in keeping with the favourite Reema Lagoo cliché -- Tumhare bhale ke liye (for your well being).

20 years later, Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) has shed every inch of baby fat for biceps and a sexy tan. While the rest of the village folk dress in boring kurta pyjamas, he sports a cool wrap-around jersey vest teamed with a grubby dhoti or Patiala Salwar. A loner by grandma's choice, he befriends birds, trees and a disinterested white horse (who, unfortunately, doesn't talk).

The screenplay is obviously itching for romance. Ergo he rescues Priya (Priyanka Chopra suffering from a bout of bad acting, bad make-up and bad wardrobe) from a para-glider gone bust in a way only Tarzan can. Between fluttering eyelashes and deafening screams, spooky tattletales and some silly fun, Krishna falls head over heels for pretty Priya. But, like all good things and lengthy songs, this breezy holiday in Manali comes to an end. And Priya flies back to Singapore, where she originally hails from.

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On the pretext of marriage, she lures him to Singapore. A news reporter by profession, she actually has better job prospects in mind. This results in him rebelling against Grandmom's firm stand and disclosure of the family secrets. (On learning the truth, Krishna and I realize that grandma did have a point after all.) So, it's bye bye Manali. Outdoor shooting, Singapore tourism, here I come.

We are almost halfway through the film now. I have seen a lot of jumping, screaming, forced humour, over-acting, life-altering twists and flashbacks. Can I have my superhero now, please?

Director Rakesh Roshan really tests your patience before finally obliging.

There is no Uncle Ben here to trigger a Spidey. What happens is a raging fire in a circus and the benevolent Krishna deciding to turn saviour. He picks a mask -- which Catwoman or Ajooba possibly dropped by mistake. He also finds Selene's black trenchcoat (of Underworld fame) with consummate ease. Size does not matter, literally. So, he bursts inside the circus ring and rescues a bunch of endearing Singaporean kids in no time.

Like most superhero flicks, this one has a bad guy too. Krrish has Naseeruddin Shah playing a sinister scientist called Dr Arya with the same in-your-face flamboyancy he displayed as the deceiving Jindal of Mohra. Speaking of Dr Arya, his laboratory design is blatantly ripped off Minority Report.

A lot of attention is paid to Hrithik's agile movement. Most scenes are dedicated as a tribute to his arduous workouts in the gym spent cultivating those mind-blowing muscles. The actor brings elegance even in aggressive demonstrations of action with his swiftness. His Krrish faces no trauma, guilt or confusion. Even if he is friendless, not too much emotional time is given to highlight this. His soaring earnestness and intensity makes him the real special effect.

The production values are shoddy. SFX team of Marc Kolbe and Craig Mumma's shabby use of super imposed background is annoying and distracting. Cinematographer Santosh Thundiiayil could have opted for a darker, slick look. Instead, he lends Krrish an extra-bright and powdery appearance befitting a detergent commercial. Siu Tung Ching and Sham Kaushal's action gets no points for originality. Most of it is borrowed from Matrix flicks and is repetitive in nature. Surely there must be more to a superhero than surging from one pole to another. This gratification comes to you only in the tail end of the movie.

Krrish neither has the sleek aura nor the deep-rooted ideology of superheroes. What it does have is a super spirited performance from Hrithik Roshan, which is likely to appeal to kids. And that's worth a three-star cheer.

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Sukanya Verma