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Koi ... Mil Gaya

"E.T." Meets "The Sound of Music" . . . in Hindi

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Jurgen Fauth

Koi Mil Gaya

Hrithik Roshan and Rekha await the aliens.

I'm all in favor of people bursting into song (see my top ten list of art house musicals), and so it should come as no surprise that the infectious cheesiness of a Bollywood musical should appeal to me. It's a wonderful counter-weight to the endless parade of ponderous world films and this year's batch of strangely serious summer blockbusters.

"Koi ... Mil Gaya" (the press kit helpfully translates the title as "I found someone") is a first for Mumbai's bustling film industry: it's a Bollywood sci-fi romance. As usual, the film's a cool three hours long, features extensive song-and-dance numbers, an intermission, and stunningly beautiful stars (Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta, in this case). There's also a little blue alien, a giant space ship, and plenty of ideas and shots lifted wholesale from American films including "Independence Day" and "Like Mike."

The story of "Koi ... Mil Gaya" goes something like this: when a scientist makes first contact with aliens through a sequence of sounds sent into space (yes, just like in "Close Encounters"), he is ridiculed by the scientific establishment and dies in a subsequent accident. His son is born mentally disabled, much to the pain of his quietly suffering mother (played with gravitas by Rekha). Hindi heartthrob Hrithik Roshan plays the part of the stunted Rohit to the hilt, limping and stumbling and mumbling on his scooter (not BMX bike) with his gang of little rascal friends.

In the course of the next 180 or so minutes, Rohit discovers his father's computer, falls in love with sweet Nisha (Preity Zinta), and challenges the bully Raj (Rajat Bedi) to a game of hoops. He also meets a friendly blue alien that goes by the name of Jadu. Jadu, who has magic powers and glows when he's excited, was left behind when his crew of botanist space travelers abandoned him. Sound familiar? Let's just say, if my name was Stephen Spielberg, I might consider a lawsuit.

Bollywood filmmakers often have to defend themselves against charges of plagiarism, acknowledging that there's nothing new under the sun while gleefully ripping off and riffing on classic American movies. "Koi...Mil Gaya" is like an absurd dream you might have after watching a double bill of "E.T." and "The Sound of Music" after eating a heavy curry dinner. With its mix of comedy, romance, sci-fi, musical, action, and melodrama, "Koi ... Mil Gaya" is bright, loud, relentless fun. Of course it's hokey and derivative, but it steals from the originals with such panache that you can't help but love it.

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