Calling "Koi... Mil Gaya" a remake of Steven Spielberg’s "E.T." is as unfair as calling "Sholay" or "Lagaan" remakes of Kurosawa´s "Seven Samurai." In a smartly written screenplay, use the basic premise of "E.T.", spice it up with a hint of "Spiderman", throw in our pure desi masala composed of romance, melodrama, fights, and dances and voila - you have a sci-fi musical! You never thought it would happen but here it is. And did I forget to mention? It´s a lot of fun too.
Though not a classic, “KMG” is a fun-filled joyride driven by an outstanding performance by its star, Hrithik Roshan. Rohit Verma, a twenty odd year old man with the brain of a twelve year old may not exactly fit the profile of a conventional hero. But we love the underdog and constantly root for Rohit and stay glued to our seats until he emerges a true winner. It doesn’t matter to us if he starts flying in the middle of a basketball game or develops huge biceps overnight as long as the bad guys are losing. “KMG” is engaging precisely because its story revolves around Rohit’s quest to be “normal” in the eyes of the world, rather than revolving around the much-hyped alien. It is a role of a lifetime and Hrithik enacts it with tremendous courage.
If courage is what a hero needs to succeed, Rohit has none and can hardly be blamed for that. So in comes Jadoo, a cute alien from outer space to lend a helping hand. Director Rakesh Roshan and his writers (Sachin Bhowmick, Honey Irani, Robin Bhatt) succeed in developing Jadoo as Rohit’s pillar of support through some extremely witty and humorous storytelling. Despite being a little cheesy at times, Rakesh Roshan succeeds in bestowing the alien with a range of emotions. Comedy however, dominates much of the film. The kids who compose the “Super Six” along with a hilarious Sindhi act by Johnny Lever wonderfully support Hrithik’s comic timing. And could we possibly have a masala flick without romance? Nisha (Preity Zinta) and Rohit share a very special relationship that quite obviously drives the scumbag villain (Rajat Bedi) insane. But our lead couple could care less as they gracefully dance away in the rain to Rajesh Roshan’s melodious tunes. Then of course there is the odd fight scene and the basketball game but no one can really complain since everything fits in well within the story.
Preity Zinta looks gorgeous and plays her part with a lot of maturity. Nisha is a character who constantly needs to respond to Rohit as if he were a child, without mocking him. Zinta strikes that balance to perfection. The evergreen Rekha plays the other woman in Rohit’s life, his mother. A strong chemistry between the legendary actress and Hrithik Roshan results in some very special moments on screen. But this is Hrithik’s film. When Rohit cracks a joke, you will find yourself in splits. When he is bullied, you will have a lump in your throat. And when he strikes back at the bad guys, you will applaud. The so-called “one-hit-wonder” is back with a bang.
With a story that cannot really be told without the use of special effects, Rakesh Roshan makes a very sensible decision to keep the SFX to a minimum. The alien is created with animatronics while the spaceship is computer generated. While certainly not state of the art, the SFX are believable enough to serve the purpose of the story. With these key ingredients falling into place, one wishes Rakesh Roshan had taken a little more time to ensure that his film was technically polished. While the cinematography is beautiful, more time should have been spent on the editing console in choosing the shots more carefully. A number of out-of-focus takes and shots using the dreaded zoom lens could have been avoided. But how does this matter when you’re having fun? It doesn’t.
In 1987 Shekhar Kapur made a semi-sci-fi film called “Mr. India”. The film was a blockbuster that softened the hearts of the most stoic and made the most mature of adults feel like kids again. It has taken sixteen long years for another film to be made that can do that. Good writing, strong direction by Rakesh Roshan, and a one-man-show by Hrithik Roshan help “Koi... Mil Gaya” live up to its huge pre-release hype. Watch it with your kids, watch it with your date, watch it alone – but watch this movie with only one thing in mind – fun. You won’t be disappointed. Go be a kid again.