Friday, November 8, 2013

Krrish 3 and Mangalyaan: Birds of the same feather!

Krrish 3 and Mangalyaan - Kartik Dayanand - Mind u Read

People laughed when I said I loved Krrish 3. They laughed even harder when I said Krrish 3 should break all box office records. But they laughed the loudest when I said Krrish 3’s success is as important to us as the success of Mangalyaan, India’s Mars Mission.

Everyone thought I was joking. They still think so. Now that I am writing this blog post, I hope all doubts will be laid to rest. I will start by first speaking about the movie and then go on to Mangalyaan.

Krrish 3

To be honest, I wasn't too enthusiastic to watch Krrish 3 despite all the pre release hype about the VFX and other stuff. Dhoom 3 which is to release in December seemed far more exciting. In 2006, Dhoom 2 overshadowed the hysteria around Krrish, and it seemed like a case of advanced deja vu already.

However I was really curious to see how Rakesh Roshan strung the movie together. I think he has a terrific sense of screenplay and there is a certain rhythm and mathematical precession in the way each scene of his flows into the next. I have been observing this from the time I watched his Karan Arjun in 1995; more about that in another post.

So, this wasn't a good enough reason to convince my wife to watch the film as she didn’t find the prequels that exciting. She agreed only under the condition that she would catch up with some much needed rest in the theatre by sleeping through the movie. My kids weren't too enthusiastic too; they hardly knew who Krrish was, especially considering the 7 year gap since the previous instalment. They were more attuned to the likes of Iron Man and Hulk. They are 8 and 5, so you can imagine how ancient Krrish seemed to them.

And then...


The movie began.

The moment Krrish made his entry in the aeroplane rescue scene - my jaw was literally on the floor.

My wife – forget sleeping, she didn't even blink after that scene.

My kids - who get restless quite easily when any movie bores them, didn’t move from their seats for the rest of the film.

Krrish 3 was something beyond our expectations. It stunned and awed us!

Rakesh Roshan’s mastery over his craft was intact. There were no loose ends anywhere in the script, nor any unnecessary scenes. Every scene had a purpose and an end to it despite the blatant brand promotion in the earlier parts of the movie. The star cast was perfect, though the extras in most scenes looked straight out of an 80’s Doordarshan serial. Production design was top notch; and no Hollywood hero comes close to the persona and versatility of Hrithik as Krrish and the character of the older Rohit, it seemed as if he was born to play this role.

However, the best part - it seemed quite metaphorical but the moment Krrish leapt onto buildings and onto that aeroplane it was also a giant leap for Indian VFX industry as well as the Superhero genre. It is no exaggeration to say that the VFX are on par and at times (mixed with Indian emotions) better than the insipid cookie cutter stuff the west has been dishing out lately.

Krrish is a movie India should be proud of and the box office collections seem to be endorsing the same fact notwithstanding severe critiques from a few emotionally challenged critics and misguided folks on social networks - the same people that I wrote about in my earlier posts 'Kasabs of Twitter' and 'Twitter is a bitch'. These are the same people that also innocently make fun of India's Mars Mission, and some who not so innocently question the wisdom of sending a Mars Mission in the backdrop of poverty and other social issues that plague India.

Krrish vs Mangalyaan

There are quite a few similarities between Krrish 3 and Mangalyaan but the key thing that binds them both is that they both are indigenously made - entirely home grown - at a fraction of the cost the west takes to produce something similar.

There is a lot of talk about Krrish 3 taking inspiration from other Hollywood movies - why ape them? Same is the complaint with Mangalyaan - why work on it when NASA already sent the Mars Rover?

Here is why it is important...

The best Indian brains have always either moved abroad or are working for some multinational company here. Only yesterday I read that global IT firms recruit more people in India than people from their own countries. It seems out of the lakhs of its employees, every third employee at IBM is based out of India. Same is the story with many other global corporations. Indian’s are masters at providing great service. That's a fantastic thing - provides employment to millions and increases our purchasing power. We should all be proud of our achievement.

But

In reality, we aren't our own masters. While we have excelled in good and affordable service, India has hardly produced any brands or products of significance in the recent past that we can call our own.  On the other hand, do you know which site is on its way to beat Facebook to become the largest social network soon? No, not Twitter, not Google Plus - it is WeChat with over a billion users and counting. And do you know who created it - the Chinese. Surprised aren't you? Well, you shouldn't be, considering that most of the crackers we burst this Diwali were all made in China too.

It seems like we are enjoying the perks of a luxury accommodation by paying rent instead of focusing on building our own house. What if the owner decides to throw us out tomorrow, we are at the mercy of nature.

Indian animation industry:

To bring in the success of Krrish 3 in this context - take the case of the Indian animation industry. We have the best talents here but almost all of them are focused on outsourced work for international studios. We hardly seem to be producing anything original for our own consumption. Chota Bheem is the only success I can think of in the recent past, everything else on TV is dominated by the likes of Doraemon and Shin Chan.

When I started my career in animation in the late 90s it was an extremely promising field which over the years grew into an industry of despair. The best studios have more or less closed down. Most of the top talents I know have all switched careers. The remaining are all working on outsourced projects. The few that dared to try original Indian content failed miserably at the box office leading to a domino effect where the whole idea of trying something new or original became taboo. Hence the tried and tested mythology genre has been milked to death.

In this backdrop there have been a few glimmers of hope. SS Rajamouli made a film called EEGA with a 3D fly as the main protagonist. That was an extremely successful, brave and commendable effort. Robot by Shankar before that redefined Indian VFX but most of it was done by experts from abroad. Ra.One was a very good effort in terms of VFX but Krrish 3 is the movie that finally got it right even though it borrows heavily from other Hollywood movies. For your information, do you know that ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ was based on the Steven Spielberg movie ET which was again inspired by a Satyajit Ray film script from the 1960s called ‘The Alien’, take that for originality.

Why should Krrish 3 do well?

The success of Krrish 3 has the potential to spawn spinoffs like an animated TV series, games, comic books and merchandise which in itself could be a huge money spinner and employment generator giving life to multiple talented artists and studios. This could provide crucial oxygen to an ailing industry and possibly more concepts on the same lines. And with animation and VFX based concepts the canvas gets much larger than the Indian Diaspora; our films could reach out to a larger worldwide audience.

You would be surprised to know that Disney, Marvel, DC Comics all make movies only as advertisements for the products that they eventually sell. Slap the picture of Spiderman on a plastic water bottle and sell it for a bomb. That is how they create brand value and wealth. We are nowhere near to them in terms of creating or marketing such brands - be it in entertainment or IT, manufacturing or any other sector. We are at best, cheap service providers and consumers with a growing appetite.

Same story with Mangalyaan!

An event as ambitious as a Mangalyaan mission can prove to be a crucial catalyst that ignites the minds of today’s youngsters. Else, left to them they would all want to become software engineers writing code for some multinational company, because science as a subject has already gone the animation way, obsolete.  And in fields like science, space exploration, etc it is best to be self reliant, not only for the purpose of being in a better bargaining position with other nations to barter technology but also to not blindly depend on the west for everything.

We have learnt this lesson well in the past and it took one man to show us the path for redemption, I don’t think I have to tell you his name and it’s a strange coincidence that his Charka a symbol of self reliance and defiance was sold at an auction recently without us ever making a noise about it.

The world is truly flat today and we collaborate with our peers from across the world but it never hurts to build some value for oneself too. 

Krrish 3 and Mangalyaan are birds of the same feather - symbols of our desire to prove that we are capable of producing something world class and of value, on our own terms.

It is time we took these efforts seriously, the jokes can still happen but a certain sensitivity is all that is required lest we find ourselves suddenly lost tomorrow!

Till then, cheers!!!

Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

This post also appeared on 'The Times Of India' website - click here