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Krrish holds its ground in US

The film has been liked by masses and classes alike. Critics have lauded Hrithik as well, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 14:59 IST

It is true that the ranks of Bollywood fan boys – and fan girls – are growing in the US. Yet, Mumbai blockbusters must still rely squarely for their success on support of the expatriate Indian community strewn across this vast country. As Krrish, a runaway hit back in India, has done with a fair degree of aplomb.

It is pretty obvious that Hindi films, no matter how successful they are in India and how skilfully they are executed, are not top-of-the-mind entertainment options for large sections of the American population. So if one is looking for an evening of Bollywood entertainment, finding a screen playing a Hindi film isn’t an easy affair. 

While Deepa Mehta’s Water may make it to the art house theatres in bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles, a film like Krrish has to make do with less fancy screening outlets – no top-notch multiplexes for an Indian film. With a budget of 10 million US dollars, Krrish is only a ‘small’ film by Hollywood standards. 

Krrish  is currently running all across the US and reported to be doing especially well in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Illinois.

Water has an advantage over run-of-the-mill Bollywood potboilers: it is a Canadian production with a legit mainstream US distributor. It’s been running in the US in a limited engagement for close to three months now. In New York, the film, which has garnered positive notices all around, wraps up its run this week. Water has earned appreciation all right, but it hasn’t smashed records in the US.

Krrish  isn’t expected to do that either, but, in many significant ways, it could help Bollywood get its foot further into the door. In Boston, the Rakesh Roshan-directed superhero saga is now set to enter its third week. Running at Showcase Cinemas Lawrence, Krrish  has been accorded as many three shows a day.

The largely encouraging reviews have certainly helped the film’s cause. Despite the fact that it is running alongside the real thing – Superman Returns – it has managed to draw people, and not just Indian expatriates.

Richard James Havis of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “This Bollywood film crunches together romance, comedy, extra-terrestrials, martial arts, dancing and action to tell an entertaining story about a reluctant Indian superhero. The bizarre mix, which takes in everything from alien landings to tearful soap-opera sequences, succeeds mainly because of its hell-for-leather exuberance.”

Ronnie Scheib, writing in Variety, described Krrish as an “enjoyable and daffily improbable escapist romp” that “further expands Bollywood’s pop genre repertoire”. He heaped special praise on the star of the show: “Hrithik (Roshan)… pulls off the film’s wilder absurdities with considerable panache.”    

That may sound a tad condescending to hardcore Bollywood fans, but what some non-Indian viewers in the US have found appealing about Krrish, as they usually tend to do about other Mumbai flicks, is the manner in which it crams in elements from every conceivable movie genre known to Hollywood and turns it into something that is typically Bollywood. 

Krrish  is currently running all across the US and reported to be doing especially well in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Illinois.    

Laura Kern, reviewing the film in The New York Times, wrote: “Krrish is overlong, schmaltzy, wholly derivative and sprinkled with underwhelming song and dance numbers. Coming from anywhere else, these elements might be considered glaring flaws. In Bollywood they are not only expected, but often, as in this film, they also appear as virtues.”

The Hollywood Reporter review, while noting the “barmy, anything-goes sense of fun” and the “hyperactive and overplayed” performances, said that “it’s far too crazed for foreign viewers, although the growing number of fan boys will find much to delight in it.”

Indeed Krrish  may have, as Variety has pointed out, pilfered “ideas from multiple Hollywood comicbook sagas with beaming insouciance”, but this desi  superhero has landed firmly on his feet in the land of his inspiration.