Roshan comes back 'home'

SINGAPORE - The latest instalment of the hit Indian science-fiction film franchise Krrish opens across the world on Friday.

But Krrish 3, in which Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan plays the titular superhero, has already been buzzing on YouTube.

The actor, who is known for his slick dance moves, has had nearly four million views for a song from the movie, Raghupati Raghav. It is a classic Hrithik Roshan song-and-dance deal, complete with rippling biceps and nifty feet grooving to the peppy beat of the catchy number.

In fact, he is so in control of the moves that Bollywood's It-girl Priyanka Chopra, his co-star in the movie, hardly matters in the song.

But making Krrish 3, one of India's most successful superhero series of films, has been hard work for him for the better part of three years. Most of the time was devoted to the scripting, pre-production and planning of the film, which was directed by Roshan's father Rakesh.

Both father and son say they believe in "meticulous planning", so they do not lose a single day during their shoot.

Roshan senior conceptualised the lead character played by Hrithik as a "superhero with human powers". Krrish took off from his earlier film Koi... Mil Gaya (I Found Someone, 2003) - the first of the Krrish series - whose E.T.-like character called Jadoo turned out to be a huge hit among children.

Krrish (2006), which had a budget of $13.8 million, grossed more than US$18million at the box office while Koi... Mil Gaya was made on a budget of US$460,000 and grossed US$1.2 million.

When asked why the two earlier Krrish films have been so popular when other Indian science-fiction superhero films such as Ra.One (2011), starring Shah Rukh Khan, have had limited success, Rakesh Roshan says it was due to the franchise's slow build-up.

He adds that he had made "11/2 films to build the foundation" for Krrish 3, referring to Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish.

This allowed him to fix all the kinks and make the special effects better.

What helped, too, was the lack of any obvious reference point to make the film. "We did not have to fall back on comic books, so we were in a sense free to create our superhero the way we wanted to," says the senior Roshan, who directed all three Krrish films, in an interview with Life! along with Hrithik.

For the actor, the challenge was playing different roles in the film. "They have brought the best out of me as a person and as an actor. I play Rohit, who is mentally challenged, and then I am allowed to become a superhero. As an actor, you do not often get to be different people in the same film. It is so magical."

The 39-year-old heart-throb was in town last month with his father and says Singapore was the "logical first stop" to promote the movie.

The charming and witty actor says: "This is like coming back home. Krrish was born in Singapore, his first jump from a building was here and we shot in so many locations. I just love Singapore."

The second film was shot here in 2005. The Singapore Tourism Board subsidised part of the movie's budget under its $10-million Film In Singapore scheme. About 30 locations were used, ranging from the Esplanade to Suntec City to Lau Pa Sat.

Director Roshan agrees with his son on the good experience of filming Krrish here. He says he had looked at other locations across the world but "no country was letting me shoot for 60 days".

"The tourism board in Singapore went out of its way to get everything organised. Three months prior to the shoot, it printed which streets would be closed. We are very indebted to Singapore and the board and felt it was important to do our first promotion for Krrish 3 here."

Their visit was organised by Singapore Press Holdings' publications tabla! and Tamil Murasu, and event company De Ideaz.

Despite a packed schedule while they were here, both father and son showed no signs of fatigue. In fact, they demonstrated their great chemistry with each other.

Director Roshan says it is "uncanny" how alike their thoughts are. Whatever differences they had about approaching their films - they have worked on several films together and he launched his son's acting career with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (Tell Me, You Love Him, 2000) - were during the scripting stage, never on set.

"When we discuss the script, we thrash out all our differences. On the set, there is no discussion. We are both on the same wavelength and that is very uncanny and surprising sometimes."

They are also candid when talking about Hrithik's acting career.

Roshan senior, who was an actor, had reservations about his son entering the movie business and wanted him to finish his studies first.

But Hrithik, a commerce graduate, turned down a master's degree scholarship that could have taken him to the United States because he says he always "knew he wanted to be an actor".

"My father was very afraid. He knew the struggle an actor has to go through. He had struggled for 20 years. Our house had been mortgaged. I told him: If this is my destiny, I can and will do it."

And he did. He made his debut as a six-year-old in the 1980 film Asha (Hope). After finishing college, he worked as an assistant helping out his father on his films before moving in front of the camera as an adult.

This was "good training", he says. The on-the-job training clearly worked and he saw success in several blockbusters including Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

(Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness, 2001), thriller Dhoom 2 (2006), action thriller Agneepath (Path Of Fire, 2012) and the Krrish franchise.

Now, director Roshan is the all-proud father as he says of Hrithik's career: "You have just seen the beginning. I say this not because he is my son. I say this as a director. He has a lot of potential."

On his part, the actor is "extremely proud" of his father. "I was his assistant for five years and all my knowledge of cinema has come from him. We work without any egos. That is something which should be a template for anybody who is in the creative field. You have to always think of the final outcome. That is what makes us click on and off set."

Working with his dad on the Krrish series, he adds, has been a great journey.

"All special effects are done in India. I feel very happy we have taken on the challenge. Because if we don't, who will?"

Is Krrish 3 the end of the franchise? The quick-thinking actor is swift with his response: "It depends on what you have to say. If you tell us to do one more, we will do it."

These days, the actor - who has two children with wife Suzanne, daughter of actor Sanjay Khan - wears Krrish's symbol around his neck on a chain because it is a reminder to keep pressing on, with a "spirit to conquer". He says: "It does not matter what breaks me, what puts me down - I will keep rising back."

He knows a thing or two about rising back. Through his acting career, he has had to deal with several injuries, including a slipped disc. Months before the Krrish 3 promotions, he underwent brain surgery in a Mumbai hospital. He had suffered a head injury while performing a stunt during the Krrish 3 shoot and did not attend to it immediately.

Four weeks after the surgery, he got back to his fitness routine.

But the poster boy for fitness and health harbours a secret: As a child, he hated drinking milk and poured it down the kitchen sink till he was caught by his mother - a fact buried in a newspaper story from sometime ago that showed up in a Google search.

When asked about it, he laughs out loud before saying: "How did you know that? I know being a symbol for healthy living and fitness, this may sound strange, but as a child, I could not stand the smell of milk. I had to run away. I can say now, every child must have his milk."

The buff actor is often called Adonis, the Greek god of beauty and desire, for his striking good looks, his light eyes and his chiselled features. But he ends all the parallels with this: "You know, I went to Greece. Nobody recognised me. I am not a Greek god at all."

Krrish 3 opens at Screens of Bombay Talkies Today.

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