Few films will leave you as borderline offended, flabbergasted, entertained and touched as Koi…Mil Gaya.
Few films will leave you as borderline offended, flabbergasted, entertained and touched as Koi…Mil Gaya, a Bollywood musical adapted from the same original material as E.T. the Extraterrestrial. You heard it here, an E.T. musical. What the uninitiated have to understand is there is a level of ridiculousness at play in all major Bollywood films. Frequently cheesy, implausible and uproariously hilarious (whether intended or not), the good ones definitely keep viewers entertained for their three hour runtime, and can still be emotionally affecting dramas all the same. Depending on your perspective, Koi…Mil Gaya (billed as Bollywood’s first sci-fi film) might be one of the best Bollywood films ever made, as evidenced by the two wholly unrelated “sequels” it spawned. Welcome to India where outwardly ridiculous movies turn into massive franchises!
Koi…Mil Gaya, as well as its sequels, rely on the talents of megastar Hrithik Roshan to not only carry them but make them believable. That is, unfortunately, a bit of a stretch in the beginning. The special needs son of a brilliant scientist who was convinced that he managed to communicate with aliens, Rohit (Roshan) has trouble in school and is held back several grades. This somewhat explains the nearly 30-year-old Roshan running around a middle school playground. The costume designer apparently decided the easiest way to age the star down and simultaneously convey his learning disabilities was to put him in brightly colored polo shirts, give him a mop top and make him wear thick-rimmed geek glasses. It’s a little painful to watch. That being said, Roshan does his best to portray Rohit’s frustration and exceedingly emotional reactions to failure, as well as his bubbly excitement and gullibility. This aspect of the story could be borderline offensive, but Roshan is the key to reining in the believability and navigating the role with sensitivity, especially in early flirtations with Nisha (Preity Zinta).
In a cruel twist of fate, Rohit’s condition is the result of the UFO sighting and subsequent car accident that killed his father and injured his pregnant mother. Rohit’s mother, Sonia (Rekha), packs up her husband’s satellite equipment after the accident, putting an end to his research into contacting life on other planets. Naturally, Rohit uncovers the main computer and, in the process of pressing buttons, sends a new message into space, one that is answered almost immediately. While the beloved E.T. was a wrinkly flesh-colored alien, Koi…Mil Gaya’s Jadoo (so called because that is the only word he speaks) is a bright blue little alien who is even cuter. Again like E.T., Jadoo has powers, but he doesn’t just make Rohit fly, he corrects his vision as well as his disability. What was once a geeky Rohit then becomes a true Hrithik Roshan hero – buff, confident and skilled at dancing.
This erasure of Rohit’s disability is played as both a correction of an accident caused by Jadoo’s people as well as a magical miracle. Rohit’s newfound skills are even put on display during a disco song and dance number entitled “It’s Magic.” Jadoo, although he doesn’t speak much, clearly cares for his human friend and wants to give him the life he desires and share his powerful abilities. And of course with this gift, Rohit is able to better help Jadoo evade discovery and eventually escape the Indian military intent on studying him. That being said, there’s still the slightly sour narrative device that magically turns Rohit into a virtual superhero.
But the adorable interactions Rohit and his friends have with Jadoo make Koi…Mil Gaya’s musical montages delightful. Consider “Jadoo Jadoo,” which admittedly sounds vaguely like “nanu nanu,” and the image of Jadoo in a brown robe, waddling through fields like a tiny monk. And yes, Jadoo’s singing voice is high-pitched, warbly perfection.
While sequels Krrish and Krrish 3 (get it, because it was the third film in the series) fully commit to the superpower aspect of the story that is only vaguely touched on during the last act of Koi…Mil Gaya, that’s a far cry from the genuine connection that Rohit and Jadoo develop, their friendship being the heart of this film. This may be an often times bizarre take on a familiar close encounter tale, but Koi…Mil Gaya is an affecting musical that is definitely worth watching, even if only for the cute little blue dude.