Krrish 3 (2013)
Forgive me for indulging in what’s become one of the more tiresome clichés of 2013, but I will now complain about how Krrish 3 is more of a Superman movie than Man of Steel was.
And yet, it’s true all the same. 2013 may come to be known as the year when the old icons of heroism in fiction were brought down and corrupted for mass-market consumption, while newer heroes stepped up to stand for the ideals that they no longer would, or could. One by one this summer, Superman, Captain Kirk, and the Lone Ranger, beloved role models of previous generations, found themselves stripped of their idealism, and reduced to violent, thoughtless, decidedly unheroic versions of themselves. Meanwhile, brand new, or at least more recent franchises emerged as their surprise successors: Pacific Rim, The Fast & The Furious, even Iron Man (not a new character by any means, but one who was relatively obscure until his film debut in 2008) all came forth full of the youthful idealism and sense of fun that we used to get from Superman (and company).
But as much as all that can be said for the aforementioned summer films, it’s even more true of this late entry, the Indian superhero blockbuster Krrish 3. And who better to infuse a modern superhero film with a sense of childlike naiveté than Bollywood, an industry with what seems like an almost universally childlike feel to their films? Krrish 3 is the third entry in the oddly-named franchise (there is no Krrish 2) that started with Koi… Mil Gaya, a film most easily described as “the Indian E.T.”, except in this version, Elliot is a mentally handicapped adult named Rohit. The second film, Krrish, completely switched genres, omitting the cute little alien and revolving around Rohit’s son, Krishna, who inherited superpowers from his father that were given to him by said alien. Donning a black coat and broken mask, he becomes basically Indian Superman (Indian Golden Age Superman at first, but leveling up to Indian Silver Age Superman by the end of this film), right down to marrying a smokin’ hot journalist (Priyanka Chopra).
The film is Bollywood to the core, which should tell you up front whether or not it’s for you. For my part, I love Bollywood in all its over-the-top glory, and not in that condescending “oh, you wacky foreigners” way people love Psy. I simply enjoy bombast in my entertainment. I’m a “go big or go home” kinda guy. What can I say? I guess I just have this weird need for my entertainment to be, you know, entertaining. And Bollywood knows how to entertain, with their 3-hour musical comedy drama action horror sci-fi fantasy extravaganzas. It’s amazing how well the average Bollywood movie seems to hold together in light of their “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, but somehow they usually manage to keep everything from feeling incongruous, and even when they don’t, you’re usually having too much fun to care.
In retrospect, it’s amazing that Bollywood superhero movies aren’t more common, because the genre suits their style perfectly. The outrageous “fuck physics” gusto perfectly fits the camp grandiosity of comic books, and their tendency towards “gosh gee” moralizing and innocence (which comes off as surprisingly genuine for something that’s likely censorship-driven) is almost identical to the tone of Silver Age Superman stories.
And a Silver Age Superman story this is, right down to the core. At less than a quarter of the budget, Krrish 3 satisfies in ways Man of Steel utterly failed to do, by capturing that idealistic “Superman” feel that the actual Superman movie completely missed or glossed over. It zigs at every point Man of Steel zagged. The final battle between Krrish and his nemesis is so similar in staging to Superman vs. Zod, you’d be forgiven for thinking they must have somehow ripped it off (even though they would’ve been making this before Man of Steel even came out). The only real difference? Krrish actually shows concern for the civilians imperiled by the wayside, stopping to smash falling debris that’s about to crush them, and at one point letting the villain wail on him while he focuses on holding up a falling building to save an abandoned baby below.
Call it cheesy if you want, but that old fashioned spirit is what gives this film the charm that Man of Steel tried and failed to capture. There’s an early scene in which Krrish is moved almost to tears by the courage of a little boy who nearly died trying to help a stuck pigeon, which kicks off the movie’s running theme of “anyone who does good for others is Krrish (i.e. a hero)” and pretty much sums up everything this movie does right. Its wide-eyed optimism may be too sugary sweet for some, but for me, this is everything I want out of a good superhero story. Add to that the fact that the effects and action sequences are genuinely exciting and well-staged, and you have basically a perfect superhero movie. If it plays anywhere near you, don’t miss it. At the very least, it’ll give you something to do until Thor: The Dark World comes out in a few days.