Thursday 7 November 2013

From the archive: "Koi... Mil Gaya"

Koi... Mil Gaya is a Bollywood film where the novelty of the conceit - the novelty of seeing something as unoriginal as a Close Encounters/E.T. knock-off translated into Hindi - overcomes any shakiness in the execution. In a prologue, an astronomer who's made contact with aliens dies in a car crash that seriously injures his pregnant wife. Their child grows up to become Rohit (Hrithik Roshan), a slow young man who enjoys jumping in puddles and hanging out with his gang of cherubic of eight-year-old schoolmates. Yet when the aliens show up again, anxious to know why no-one's been returning their calls, it's Rohit who becomes the first to make contact.

What strikes you is the film's sheer simplicity, broadly on a level with that of its hero: only the heavens (and the BBFC) know why Koi... Mil Gaya has been classified 12A, as no recent Hindi film has been so obviously crying out for a universal rating. Among the building blocks co-writer/director Rakesh Roshan (Hrithik's dad) has assembled here: naivete such that perhaps the film doesn't know not to score a sweaty basketball tussle between Rohit and his male romantic rival to the Art of Noise's "Moments in Love"; product-placement such that one of the first discoveries the extra-terrestrials (who resemble Star Wars' Jawas crossed with the Smurfs) make about earthlings is that we enjoy a refreshing cola beverage at bars named after a particular variety of coffee bean.

There aren't many signs of intelligent life among the human participants: Preity Zinta has to dial down her usual screen IQ to play a girl insistent "every woman should be married", and Roshan, generally something of a pretty-boy actor, finds himself in the double bind of having to act a) geeky and b) dumber than he actually is, at least until the film can give him biceps and an excuse to take his glasses off. With its young supporting cast apparently drawn straight from a Children's Film Foundation offering circa 1974, Koi... Mil Gaya is the definition of childish entertainment, although I appreciate you could say the same thing of Independence Day, for example. It also manages to be weirdly appealing with it, sporting the widest of eyes, and songs that aspire, both musically and lyrically, to the status of stings for teatime TV shows. "This isn't meant for kids," Rohit insists at one point. It is, you know.

(February 2006)

Koi... Mil Gaya is available on DVD through Yash Raj Films. A sequel, Krrish, followed in 2005; a second sequel, rather confusingly titled Krrish 3, is now in cinemas nationwide.

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