Krrish is a film in the vein of many recent superhero films that have come out of Hollywood. But it is not a cheap knock-off; while it draws on a wide range of classic superhero tropes - a young man with super powers, an establishment interested in exploiting him, an evil mastermind toiling away for decades on a remote island - it gives those tropes a completely Indian spin. And although I am not now and have never been interested in the superhero genre, this film's hero is engaging, earnest, and sweet, and the result is a pleasant and sometimes quite charming timepass.
Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) is a gifted young man; he runs alongside horses, leaps through treetops, and scampers up cliffs with superhuman ease. When Krishna meets a young woman Priya (Priyanka Chopra), on holiday from Singapore, he is instantly smitten, but Priya, who works in TV production and whose job is in jeopardy, sees in Krishna an opportunity for career advancement. Telling Krishna that she returns his love, Priya lures him to Singapore in hopes of introducing the "Indian Superboy" to the world's television audiences. Krishna's protective grandmother Sonia (Rekha) reluctantly allows him to go, but insists that Krishna conceal his powers from everyone he meets, and with some prodding, she explains why: Krishna's father Rohit, now dead, was given (apparently hereditary) superpowers by a kindly space alien, but he was exploited by people who wanted to use his powers for their own personal gain. This cost Rohit his innocence and, ultimately, his life, and Sonia cannot bear to see the same happen in Krishna. In Singapore, Krishna unwittingly becomes the superhero Krrish when, saving some children from a horrible fire, he dons a circus mask in order to keep his promise of anonymity. Soon everyone wants a piece of Krrish - the public longs to cheer for the mysterious hero, Priya is still eager to make television history, and the mastermind who orchestrated Rohit's exploitation is on the verge of a new breakthrough of his own. The challenge for Krishna is to maintain his goodness and innocence in the face of all of this.
Krrish is a sequel to 2003's Koi mil gaya, which I haven't seen, but fortunately Krrish pauses about forty minutes in and, in a rush of exposition and flashback, brings the viewers up to speed on the story of Krishna's father Rohit, who was the protagonist of the earlier film. This makes Krrish essentially a freestanding story, and it stands fairly well. Its greatest strength is the performance of Hrithik Roshan. Early in the film his wide open smile conveys an engaging sense of wonder, joy, and innocence. Krishna's physical powers set him apart from other young men, but his heart is clearly different as well; he is pure, unsullied by cynicism, completely open to the beauty of life. Later in the film, as his innocence erodes, his face changes, developing an edge, but also a sense of loss and sadness.
Krishna's sweetness is, I think, what sets Krrish apart from superhero films in the western mold, whose protagonists tend to be dark, brooding creatures of the night nursing troubled pasts and restless souls. Krishna does ultimately find himself on a mission of vengeance, but despite the sinister turn his adventures in Singapore take, he never completely compromises his gentle nature. And it's the appeal of this character, and of Hrithik Roshan's performance, that makes Krrish completely delightful at moments, despite being stuffed with comic-book cliches.
The music is hit-or-miss, but it almost doesn't matter what the songs sound like as long as Hrithik is permitted to dance; he is an extremely skilled dancer - the most dancerly of all Bollywood heroes - and it is a treat to watch him exercise his phenomenal balance and control. "Dil na diya" showcases these skills in a fun, manic circus setting.