Don't beam me up, Scottie... not just yet. They still make some good movies down here. Yup, "good"... that's the only adjective that can be used to qualify Koi... Mil Gaya. It's not first-class, it's not imaginative and it's definitely not intelligent... but boy, it's rollickingly, endearingly, huggable-y GOOD.
When a Bollywood filmmaker (famed for movies about returning-from-the-dead, reincarnation et al), forays into virgin territory like sci-fi, what should you expect? Clueless? Okay, more hints... he throws in text-book Bollywood essentials like songs, exotic locales, a love story, a loving mom and a bunch of baddies. And to make it just a little "different", he features computers, a UFO and an alien. You're beginning to think - oh God... this is like ET gone bad... or like X-Files meets Indian soaps... or help, Isaac Asimov meets Tinkle.
But, the filmmaker has an ace up his sleeve, and he draws it out just in time to save Koi... Mil Gaya from drowning in the Sea Of Tranquility. The ace is called Hrithik Roshan, and he transforms the film from an insipid, no-brainer to a really GOOD movie.
The story... well, yay! There is some semblance of a story here. Rakesh Roshan is a scientist who, with a small dish antenna and a crude computer, manages to do what rocket-scientists, astronomers and even NASA with its trillions of dollars couldn't - he contacts aliens from a distant galaxy.
No one believes him except his wife (Rekha), and before he can fiddle around some more, he dies in a car-crash. Pregnant Rekha survives, delivers a baby boy and moves to India to settle down in Kasauli. Her son Rohit (Hrithik), who suffers a head injury while still a foetus, grows up to be a 10-year-old in a man's body (and oh... what a body!).
He studies in "seventh standard", plays cricket and rides a scooter around town with his little pals. He also gets bullied by baddies and discomfited by his teachers. But the adorable little boy that he is, he bounces back and tries twice as hard to be accepted.
When Nisha (Preity Zinta) comes to town, the two begin to bond after a few hiccups. While messing around with his dad's 20-year old computer, they manage to contact the same aliens (not even a dish antenna required this time, just one of those aerials from the 1980s). The UFO lands and leaves behind a rather familiar looking alien - in a costume was probably a discard from Mars Attacks or some such flick.
How the friendly alien meets Rohit and his friends and changes his life forever forms the rest of the story. In the few days that Jadoo (that's the name they came up with for the alien) spends on Earth, it manages to learn to quaff down a can of Coke, watch TV, speak a few words in Hindi and even sing a song - could this happen anywhere
but in Bollywood?
The movie is a tad long at three hours. Sequences like the one where the kids play basketball vs. the baddies (with tacky special effects) is rather painful on the eye. There is one superfluous song and all the supposedly technical stuff about sound-waves and extra-terrestrial life is utterly duh.
But, hey, this one is a showcase for Hrithik Roshan - and NOT for animation or effects. He puts in his best performance since KNPH
- he's original, innocent and uninhibited. There are scenes when you can laugh at him and scenes when you can laugh with him. There are even scenes when he'll make your eyes mist up just a little bit. And of course, there are the scenes of his transformation where he oozes a completely different kind of sex-appeal. He isn't Hrithik Roshan in the movie - he is Rohit, the differently-abled child-man who gets a magical chance to do all that he dreamt of.
Preity Zinta is perfectly cast as Rohit's friend - who humors him at first but slowly finds herself giving in to his endearing ways. Rekha plays a caring mom sans the usual sentiment. The kids who play Rohit's friends are a treat to watch - they are genuinely funny. And the alien, well, it's likeable, but perhaps it would take a few more attempts by Bollywood to create a more imaginative creature. But Jadoo will be a winner with the kiddie moviegoers.
The choreography is in tune with Hrithik's character. He forgoes his usual macho routines for some catchy, difficult albeit awkward moves. And the songs are treat - especially Idhar Chala and It's Magic. And Rohit's classroom sequences and the moment when the chemistry begins to build between him and Nisha are memorable.
Don't expect too much from the movie and don't analyze it too much, and you'll definitely enjoy it. Koi... Mil Gaya has all it takes to be a success. If Roshan Sr. offers a senior citizens' discount on tickets to all the 10+ year-olds, there's bound to be a windfall at the box-office. Even if the movie doesn't work, it'd go down in history as the world's first ever fantasy/sci-fi/romantic/musical/comedy/action flick.