Koi Mil Gaya (2003)
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priety Zinta
Director: Rakesh Roshan, REkha
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Nutshell: Bollywood does ET with surprisingly pleasing results
There is no denying the fact that Koi Mil gaya is a film which has generated a huge amount of interest. From being E.T meets Forrest Gump to the film that will save Hrithik Roshan, there was even a question put as to whether it was the worst hindi film ever made. I find this almost incredulous but unsurprising…The order of the day is to try to destroy before you even think of savouring…Inspired certainly by E.T, this is however not a remake and I would rate Koi Mil Gaya as a brave attempt by its Director to give audiences a different and ultimately, a very human film.
Sanjay (Rakesh Roshan) is a scientist who is trying to discover if there is life on other planets and has made attempts to communicate with such life. He manages to make some form of contact but is derided by his foreign Canadian colleagues. Driving home disappointed against a vast and stunning landscape, Sanjay and his wife Sonia (Rekha) see a huge Space Ship which diverts Sanjay’s attention and causes him to have an accident, killing him and injuring a heavily pregnant Sonia.
Returning to India, Sonia comes back to India and settles in Kasauli. We now know that her son, Rohit (Hrithik Roshan) suffered brain damage at the time of the car accident and is retarded in his growth. As a 22 year old, he has the mental ability of an 11 year old. His friends are all pint sized and he is very much like kids of that age. He is the object of some derision with the elder boys, one in particular being Raj who picks on Rohit unnecessarily. Rohit comes across Nisha (Preity Zinta) and after a few misunderstandings, strikes up a friendship with her. Playing around with his father’s computer, he sends messages unknowingly to the “aliens” who then appear in a massive space ship over Kasauli. Borrowing from E.T here, one of the aliens gets left behind and is befriended and protected by Rohit and Nisha.
The film then takes the familiar route of people searching for the “alien” to learn more about life on other planets whereas the alien imparts its powers to Rohit, making him “normal” and able to stand up to the injustices at school and to his bullying by Raj and his friends. This is Bollywood after all and we cannot have our hero be an 11 year old child for the whole duration of the film.
Rakesh Roshan with the help of a good script, ties together a wonderful film which is bollywoodised to the extent that it is palatable and enjoyable fare for the ordinary filmgoer but without descending into a maze of contriteness. The usual clichés, songs and the good guys against bad guys scenario is neatly knit together to make this a warm and human fable. What makes this different to E.T is that this film is about Rohit and less about the alien. The alien acts as a catalyst to the story and whilst being the focal point of the film, the alien never takes over the story.
The pace of the film is crisp and you don’t feel the length of the film as it remains constantly engrossing. However, Roshan has been inspired by E.T and much of the essence of E.T’s story is used by him in Koi Mil gaya…the lost alien, befriended by kids, his only salvation being a return to its own planet and Rohit’s efforts in making that possible. Hence, this is not an original idea but Roshan makes a good khichri out of it for Bollywood audiences and manages to make a believable science fiction film, which must be a first for Bollywood. What also sets the film apart from the usual rubbish that is churned out is the way the love story is handled. The relationship between Rohit and Nisha is never more than that of friends, yet there is a discernable change in Nisha when Rohit “grows up” as it were. The song placed there to cement this feeling is a little jarring but its meant to convey the feeling within her. Preity conveys this most effectively and it is a pleasure to have this angle dealt with so refreshingly.
The film itself is a package that all comes together with the help of a good script, good direction and excellent performances but it is difficult to imagine the film without Hrithik Roshan. Some of his previous films have not worked, not because he is a bad actor but because the product itself did not add up to very much. In Koi Mil Gaya, Hrithik Roshan surpasses all expectations and gives a superb performance. Playing an 11 year old child, there is always the fear that you would lapse into clichés and project the character with the usual buffoonery or demented behaviour in the grown up to show his retardation. This is not how it is projected here and Hrithik manages to look and speak like a mentally challenged child without appearing to be retarded. He is retarded in as much as his growth has been retarded but otherwise, he is a normal child. Hrithik manages to capture the body language, the expressions and the geniality associated with children perfectly and brings to his role, a vulnerability which makes him endearing and utterly believable. Infact, one almost misses the child like Rohit once Rohit is transformed into a “normal” person. He is less successful in creating the alien who is a blueish and looks like a distant cousin of E.T. But as endearing as he may be to bollywood audiences, he is at best plastic and never moves one to the extent that one is moved when E.T “goes home”. The problem lies in the eyes, the alien in Koi Mil Gaya is never really able to express.
Preity Zinta still manages to exude a freshness which sets her apart from most of the other plastic dolls that one has in Bollywood. She manages to convey the right balance between friendship and affection for Rohit and infuses a certain energy into the film which you simply cannot imagine any other actress as being able to do. There is also a very comfortable and real chemistry between Preity and Hrithik which brings a glow to their scenes together. Rekha has a strong supporting role and gives the film a strong base.
Rajesh Roshan’s music is not of the calibre of Kaho na pyaar hai but suffices. The songs are well choreographed and picturised against stunning locations. The special effects are effective and it’s to the film’s credit that these are not overplayed. The space ship looks spectacular although the opening of the doors with aliens awaiting the return of one of their kin is straight out of E.T. Even the clutching of a tree leaf by the alien is straight out of E.T.
In essence, Koi mil gaya is a family film. Children play an important role and its refreshing not to have the usual brood of brattish kids. These kids are precocious but very appealing, never overpowering the script or the proceedings. I must say that I left the film having been enchanted. Its not for those who want to dig holes in the script or criticize, but for those who want to go and see a different film which provides good wholesome entertainment and leaves you with a feeling of utter joy at the end of it. It is also a showcase for Hrithik Roshan who is simply sublime in what must be his most challenging role so far. Great stuff and highly recommended.