When you have a colossal blockbuster like KAHO NAA... PYAAR HAI behind you, the expectations from your next film, KOI... MIL GAYA, multiply manifold.
KOI... MIL GAYA is path-breaking in the sense that it depicts a story that is 'alien' as far as the Indian screen is concerned.
So, when any film-maker takes his first step towards exploring a new genre, he's bound to meet with mixed reactions. It has been proved time and again that Hollywood classics to Indianised translations either sink or swim.
KOI... MIL GAYA, directed by Rakesh Roshan, does meet the expectations, but only to an extent. You do feel something is amiss in the enterprise.
Sanjay Mehra [Rakesh Roshan] is a scientist, obsessed with establishing contacts with extraterrestrial life. He invents many innovative gadgets, instruments and finally succeeds in devising a computer that can transmit messages to space.
His foresight becomes a reality when, as a response to his signals, a spaceship is sighted in the sky. But before Sanjay can even enjoy his success, he and his wife Sonia [Rekha] meet with a horrific accident where Sonia survives, but Sanjay loses his life.
Sanjay's son Rohit [Hrithik Roshan] is born; he's a mentally challenged child who faces ridicule and torment at every phase of his life. His lone companion is Nisha [Preity Zinta].
One day, Rohit discovers his father's computer and calls Nisha to help him use it. Both of them are completely fascinated by the images and instructions that appear on the screen and experiment with the device, not realising the impact it would have.
The entire town witnesses a blackout and a bizarre phenomenon. In an incandescent glowing sky, a colossal spaceship is sighted. More strange findings are in store in Rohit's town. A pair of footprints not belonging to man or animal is found.
What could this mean? Is danger lurking somewhere close?
Although the wide-ranging hunch is that KOI... MIL GAYA is inspired by master storyteller Steven Spielberg's classic E.T., it is, in fact, an amalgamation of E.T. as also MAC AND ME [starring Jade Calegory], besides reminding you of the recent hit SPIDER-MAN.
If the spaceship-alien angle takes its inspiration from E.T., Hrithik's characterisation [that of a weakling who turns powerful after a spider bite, in this case the alien touching him] reminds you of SPIDER-MAN.
Nothing wrong in being inspired though, for Rakesh Roshan has Indianised the theme to suit Indian sensibilities.
Depicting the hero as mentally challenged for the major part of the film is a big risk by itself, but Roshan Jr. carries it off with aplomb. That is the mainstay of the film. But more on that later!
Besides, for the Indian audiences, who've witnessed aliens in the tele-series STARTREK and years ago in E.T., the alien in a Hindi film is a novelty. The introduction of the alien at the interval point does raise expectations of a riveting second half.
Prior to that, the first half succeeds in arresting audience attention and that's largely due to Hrithik's portrayal of a weakling. But the pace is inconsistent in this half, for it picks up, drops, loosens, gains momentum with regularity.
A few sequences in the first half impress you, but the one-sided romance, of Hrithik believing that Preity is his girlfriend and the songs that follow, take the fizz away from the film, making it look like any other routine flick.
The second half has a few well penned and well executed sequences that are bound to be an instant hit with viewers. Instances:-
The basketball match is a major highlight. It may not only find flavour with the kids but even with the mature types, who'd want the weakling to crush the arrogant, know-it-all types.
Even the dance number, 'It's Magic', is not only well choreographed, but comes at a time when the protagonist is undergoing a gradual transformation.
But, unfortunately, the climax of the film looks like a hurried job. A more convincing conclusion to the story could've been thought of, which would've enhanced the impact for sure.
Director Rakesh Roshan is in comfort zone vis-?is handling dramatic scenes. The emotional outburst by Rekha soon after Rajat Bedi and his friends [at the behest of Preity Zinta] have assaulted Hrithik, holds tremendous emotional appeal.
Ditto for the scene when the computer teacher insults Hrithik [second half]. Hrithik's subsequent dialogues will be greeted with applause.
Even the sequence when Hrithik is empowered and has a clear vision, as also realising that he has physically become stronger as he sees his bulging muscles, will appeal to the kids.
However, despite opting for a novel theme, Rakesh Roshan and his team of writers [Sachin Bhaumick, Honey Irani, Robin Bhatt] shouldn't have resorted to clich?situations in the screenplay. The Rajat Bedi track, for instance, is wearisome.
Also, there was ample scope to work on the romantic track between Hrithik and Preity. Besides, the climax is that of convenience and the sequences after the alien has departed, looks stretched gratuitously.
Most important, the alien looks synthetic and wears a blank look [except his eyelids moving!], unlike the one in E.T. ï¿½ something that may not appeal at all. Also, the creature should've been given more prominence in the second half. But the camera remains focussed on Hrithik and how he plans to win the love of his girlfriend [Preity Zinta]. The viewer wants to see more of the alien and less of the song-and-dance routine. Moreover, the alien mouthing Hindi and English words looks bizarre.
Rajesh Roshan comes up with a winning score yet again. The songs have a mesmerising effect and the choreography in almost all the songs is splendid. To single out, 'Idhar Chala' and 'It's Magic' are the pick of the lot.
Cinematography [Sameer Arya, Ravi K. Chandran] is first-rate. The lush green locations are a visual treat. Dialogues [Javed Siddiqui] are good at places. Action sequences [Tinu Verma] have the required punch.
Hrithik Roshan dominates the show and packs in a power-packed performance. The role of a mentally challenged person is no cakewalk, but the actor takes to it like a fish takes to water. He manages to pull off the zero to hero routine exceptionally well. As an actor, he scales dizzier heights with this splendid performance.
Preity Zinta excels in a role that doesn't really require histrionics, but does require the confidence to carry it off convincingly. Rekha is credible. Rakesh Roshan is effective in a small role.
Johny Lever does manage to raise a few laughs. Mukesh Rishi is alright Ditto for Prem Chopra and Rajat Bedi.
On the whole, KOI... MIL GAYA tackles a novel concept as far as the Indian screen is concerned. But this genre is bound to meet with mixed reactions, varying from good to just-about-fair to disappointing. At the box-office, the initial draw has been terrific, but it remains to be seen how the audiences respond to the alien. If the kids get hooked on to it, the results could be remarkable, or else the film will settle down to the fair category thanks to its exorbitant price.