SEE ‘THOR: The Dark World’, and you’ll see what the latest installment of ‘Krrish’ could and should have been

I didn’t like Krrish 3 , and one type of response to my opinion about the film has pointed out that it’s a blockbuster, and therefore everyone loves it, and I’m some kind of snob who just doesn’t get it. There is a tendency to portray those who end up with a contrarian view on popular cinema as art-house aficionados who have lost touch with ground realities of what the public really likes — so allow me to report that I saw Thor: The Dark World and enjoyed it quite a bit.

And no, this isn’t some random comparison just because Krrish 3 is a Bollywood movie made for “Indian audiences” while Thor: The Dark World is a hi-tech Hollywood product — and it is very much a product, the result not so much of passionate filmmaking as skilful re-engineering —catering to a worldwide audience. Take out the song-and-dance sequences and the ugly product placements in the former, and you do end up comparing an apple to an apple.

Besides, audiences all over are the same. If you’re talking about art-house fare (say, the films of Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach, or else foreign-language cinema), then yes, the audience is limited, and the people who come in for these films are possibly more “sophisticated” in tastes and interests, seeking something out of the ordinary. But the audience for the other kind of cinema — the “mass appeal” movies (and the audience here could also include the art-house frequenters; it isn’t an either-or situation) — are very much like how we like to describe our moviegoers.

What works for us works for them too: good-looking leads, a simple-enough story with just the right amount of “being different,” manipulative music, luscious cinematography, and so on. Whether in India or elsewhere in the world, what’s at play is the whole paisa-vasool concept. Everyone wants the film to be worth the money and time they spend, which is why so many Hollywood films, the blockbuster-wannabes, all look pretty much the same.

So returning to the Krrish-Thor comparisons, both films are — at least in intent — for “kids of all ages.” Both are strictly generic constructs, shoving aside idiosyncratic vision in favour of familiar tropes that will appeal to the largest segment of the marketplace. If Krrish brings in sentiment through a father who dies in order to protect his son and thus ensure that the villains don’t end up wreaking havoc, Thor accomplishes the same thing through the character of a mother. If Krrish has a gratuitous shot (or three) of a beefcake body, Thor has one too.

And if Krrish is derivative, then Thor is too. With its mutants and a villain capable of using his mind to fearsome effect, Krrish brings to mind the X-Men movies, while Thor begins with a battle that recalls the opening of the first Lord of the Rings movie (the same blackly metallic cinematography), and the love angle between an extraterrestrial being and a woman from earth has been seen in the Superman movies.

Seen one way, then, both films are the cinematic equivalent of potato chips — just junk. But what a difference in flavour there is. These films are similar only when we describe them, strip them down to their component parts. When we see these films, though, what comes through is the difference between the work of an amateur and a professional. At least Krrish merely has to deal with a mercenary villain, bound to this earth. If Thor fails, the universe will go under with a big bang. And yet, amidst all this apocalyptic heft, how fleet-footed his adventures are.

The climax manages to marry the traditional hero-villain clash with a series of uproarious mix-ups caused by the opening up of portals between various worlds. It’s grim and goofy at once. And as Thor, Chris Hemsworth doesn’t “act,” at least not the way Hrithik Roshan does, with every clenched muscle. He realises he’s in a big, dumb movie, and he gives a charming non-performance — he just is.

As a result, Thor makes entertainment seem effortless — it’s the perfect popcorn movie. Its story is as mythic as the one in Krrish is, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The attempts to humanise Krrish as someone who cannot stay long in a job look so laboured, whereas Thor is shown having “human” emotions like jealousy (when his girlfriend lets slip that she’s been on a date with someone else) without a big fuss being made about it or a standalone scene being manufactured around it.

How much better Krrish would have been if there had been a throwaway shot like the one in Thor where the superhero hangs up his hammer on a coat rack or takes the subway, or if the villain, like Loki, managed some real presence. Or if you can’t get good writing, at least get some inventive effects, like the cool grenade-type thingie in Thor that, instead of exploding, implodes, sucking in all the matter around it. That’s enough, really. We don’t expect much in these movies — just don’t bore us to tears is all.