Discovering Hrithik

Published On: 2012-05-25

Author: unknown

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Discovering Hrithik, the consummate actor!

A child trapped in an adolescent’s body who is different and agonises over being excluded from the mainstream and is not able to keep pace with his peer group. An alien who gets left behind when a UFO lands and the manner in which both the boy (who is also an alien in a sense) and the alien bond, so much so that the alien infuses the boy with energy to make him almost superhuman. The anguish of the mother who has to single-handed rear such a child and the manner in which friendship, loyalty and true love (yes, that much-hyped but still relevant emotion) can transcend any barrier: Rakesh Roshan manages to weave all strands into a compelling, multilayered narrative. The story has a universal appeal as form and content merge to produce a gripping tale well told.

With consummate skill, Hrithik manages to depict the anguish of an autistic child. By turns, mocked, pitied or berated, the pain of such a child can be felt either by the parents or those who are afflicted themselves. It goes to the credit of director Rakesh Roshan that he manages to depict the silent suffering with a rare degree of authenticity. The internal world of such a child is counterpoised against the harsh reality of the external social world. The latter refuses to accept such an individual and relegates him to the periphery of social life. In this well-enacted, excellently directed movie, Hrithik essays the challenging role brilliantly in a nuanced manner, with a rare depth and maturity. 

His body language, the haunted look in his eyes as he beseeches Lord Krishna to make him like others of his age leave an indelible impact. The awkward, stiff and contorted gestures, the stilted speech and a puppet-like gait reveal how he has worked hard to hone his acting skill like a seasoned artiste and craftsman. As Rohit, he manages to bring a lump to the viewers’ throat with the poignancy of his anguished look and unshed tears when confronted by insensitivity and apathy. 

Strangely, the manner in which the aptly named alien, Jadoo, comes and infuses the autistic Rohit with energy and makes him normal, does not stretch the limits of credibility. It neither jars nor strikes one as incongruous. For this, full marks to the acting and directing prowess of the father-son duo who have worked to create a classic. The manner in which Rohit discovers his inner strength and by becoming responsible for another (in this case the safety of Jadoo) also finds a reservoir of strength and autonomy from within is the rites of passage from childhood to adulthood. From a prank-playing schoolboy, socially gauche and emotionally naive, to a boy who demonstrates and exults in his physical prowess, Rohit comes alive.

Besides weaving a multilayered narrative, the viewers are forced to question the parametres and definitions of what is normal and what is abnormal behaviour. If the autistic Rohit is not normal, there is nothing deviant about his adherence to the time-tested values of loyalty, sincerity and friendship. On the other hand, "normal" people like Raj might be intelligent, powerful as well as heroic but they derive their power and strength by mocking people who are disadvantaged or weaker than themselves. Some food for introspection!

Even as adults, we can not help rejoicing when the till-now-battered (physically as well as emotionally) Rohit gives back as good as he gets. With childish glee, we want to applaud as he thrashes his tormentors. Whatever the technical sophistication and exorbitant special effects, victory of good over evil and revenge of the underdog will never cease to fascinate and Roshan uses it deftly by giving myriad tones of colour and greys to a narrative that could have easily slipped into cliches.

Sensitively portrayed and beautifully etched is the relationship between the exuberant and vivacious Nisha (Preity Zinta), who empathises with Rohit and befriends him. She emotes with finesse and her character rings true, no over-the-top declarations of sympathy but just a warm, humane concern for a friend. From friendship and camaraderie to physical attraction and finally to love that transcends all. The evolution of their equation is parallel to the transition of Hrithik from a child at the receiving end to an adult who is proactive. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the viewers will find Hrithik the consummate, sensitive actor in Koi Mil Gaya. — Aruti Nayar