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KRRISH. Director: Rakesh Roshan. Players: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Naseeruddin Shah, Rekha, Sharat Saxena. Music: Rajesh Roshan. Theatrical release (Yashraj).

Sequels set expectations. The bigger the initial round, the more are the jitters for the second installment. As a follow-up to the Roshans’ immensely popular 2004 hit Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish becomes that rare sequel that is more polished, better executed, and thus more enjoyable then its predecessor.

Picking up the plot 20 years after Koi Mil Gaya, it follows Krishna (Hrithik Roshan), whose father Rohit Mehra (Hrithik Roshan) was gifted special powers by an alien. Krishna grows up in the remote Himalayan foothills where he is sheltered by a protective grandmother (Rekha, teary-eyed yet ageless). Upon meeting the adventurous Priya (Chopra, voluptous and carefree), Krishna follows her to Singapore, only to realize that his father’s scientific discoveries are on the verge of being misused by the corporate raider Dr. Arya (Shah at his megalomaniacal best) to possibly re-arrange the future. To stop Dr. Arya’s diabolical designs, Krishna reluctantly morphs into the superhero Krrish.

Borrowing sub-text from Superman (a mortal prodigy with an extra-terrestrial pedigree and superhuman powers), The Matrix (a high-jumping hero with a peculiar penchant for all things black), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (gravity-defying rooftop antics), and the Zorro series (the mask, the mask, always the mask), Krrish would be reduced to derivative rubble in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. Rakesh Roshan, however, wisely tames the impulse to internationalize—let alone compete with—any “foreign” elements by embedding Krrish with a uniquely Indian archetype. Beneath his mask-induced external angst, Krrish champions values that are universal and also, co-incidentally, Indian. Keen to follow his father’s footsteps, Krrish is obedient to a fault, and believes whole-heartedly in Hindu rituals.

What makes Krrish special is the Roshans’ efforts at putting together a talented international crew, highlighted by Hong Kong martial arts expert Siu-Tung Ching, who succeeds in having the brawny Roshan Jr. take on some breathtaking stunts. Despite its sci-fi theme, Krrish also makes time for well-placed song-and-dance sequences. Ultimately, it’s Hrithik Roshan who carries this film by finessing some death-defying stunts.

Like the sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men, and even the newest Superman have done in Hollywood, Krrish is also creating box-office history. Showing on over 560 screens in India alone, it is already by far the biggest Indian hit of 2006 and is on pace to become one of the highest-grossing Indian movies of all time. The mission of the sequels to dominate the globe, at least at the box office, is now complete. Resistance is futile. Consider yourself assimilated.

Aniruddh Chawda writes from Wisconsin, on America’s north coast.

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