Nepal Minute - out of the ordinary

Bollywood

Aliens, space, robots, cyborgs, technological breakthroughs - they may activate the geek or nerd in you.

Sci-Fi is a genre that has always stirred human imaginations. They may boggle your mind with ground shaking ideas, shake your intuition and, possibly, give you a new perspective. Yet little credit is given to their role in giving birth to new scientists and engineers who begin to think about and work on ideas considered simply unthinkable.

If you are a Sci-Fi fan and are looking to watch some South Asian Sci-Fi movies or titles this weekend, we have complied a list of five worth-watching Sci-Fi titles conceived and produced in Bollywood, or Mumbai, which is the region's biggest hub of movies and entertainment. 

5. Attack: Part 1 (2022)

Director: Lakshya Raj Anand

Starring: John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Prakash Raj

Box office: Est. NPR 364 million (by Bollywood Hungama in 2022)

The action thriller which was inspired by the true events has a runtime of 123 minutes. The latest Bollywood instalment in the Sci-Fi genre, Attack becomes the first one to tackle the idea of Cyborg (Robot + Human) in India.

The movie depicts an idea of an Indian soldier paralysed in a terrorist attack who gets chosen for a science experiment which turns him into a cyborg after a chip is inserted to his body. The Cyborg protagonist, Arjun also gets accompanied by an Artificial Intelligence inside his head thanks to the chip. The super soldier then becomes sole saviour of the Indian people.

Although performing poorly in cinemas, critics agree, it could have performed better, if there had not been a competition from ‘RRR’.  Rachana Dubey at Times of India writes: “Attack: Part 1, is an engaging to watch, from starting to finish. It could have been even better if some of the character surrounding John’s Arjun Shergill were given more thought and leg room.” It gets a thumbs up for trying to bring new story line in Bollywood Sci-Fi.

4. PK (2014)

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Starring: Amir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput

Box office: Est. NPR 13.92 billion (by ibtimes in 2018)

A successful movie which is much of a comedy than a Sci-Fi still manages to mix a lot of punch in its story line. In this satirical Sci-Fi comedy, an innocent alien character manages to present various thought-provoking ideas in a ha-ha way throughout 152 minutes runtime.  

The script revolves around an alien who comes to the earth in a research mission but loses his communication device and fails to go back to his planet. He then meets a reporter and develops a feeling for her during his search for the remote (communication device). He questions people’s belief in God and religion as worshipping the God, didn’t get him his remote back. He finally returns to his planet after getting the remote and comes back with his fellow friends for a new mission.

Being a super hit, the movie received a lot of positive responses all around the world. Rohit Khilnani of India Today with 4.5 stars out of 5 stated: “Go watch the film and watch it ASAP!” It can still be a good comedy dose.

3. Ra.One (2011)

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal

Box office: Est. NPR 3.32 billion (by Box Office India in 2018)

The popular movie among the Sci-Fi fans and the game lovers became a trend-setter in the visual effects world in Bollywood. The movie managed to pull off new-to-the-world story of VR gaming with the Indian audience which was still behind in the tech adoption.

With a runtime of 156 minutes, the story circles the idea of a game designer father Shekhar who develops a motion sensor-based game on his son’s request of having a more powerful antagonist (Ra.One) than the protagonist (G.One). The artificially intelligent Ra.One, then escapes the virtual world to come to real world for fulfilling his in-game aim of killing Lucifer, the game ID of Shekhar’s son. Lucifer then manages to bring G.One to real world to fight the evil Ra.One.

The movie got a mixed feelings among the fans and critics. Gaurav Malani of Times of India mentioned: “Though the Sci-Fi concept seems to be far-fetched, the director is able to pull it off with visual dizzlery and fast-paced story telling that the genre demands.” The movie is more relevant to today’s tech space then it was back then.

2. ‘Krrish’ franchise

Director: Rakesh Roshan

a. Koi…Mil Gaya (2003)

Starring: Hritik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Johnny Lever

Box office: NPR 1.32 billion (by Box Office India in 2016)

koi-mil-gaya_1920x500 YRF1656057778.jpg
Koi...Mil Gaya Poster Photo: Yash Raj Films

Being one of the first in the Sci-Fi, featuring an extra-terrestrial, the 157 minutes cinema portrays a great friendship between an alien and a human. Targeted to children and the parents it was the most anticipated movie of the time.

The movie is described to be a story of a developmentally disabled boy who manages to contact aliens via his scientist father’s computer. When one of the aliens is lost in the jungle, he helps the alien and the alien gives him supernatural powers. He then determines to help alien return home. Fighting the law enforcements and government, he manages to return the alien home.

The film got a lot of positive responses from fans and critics. Vdita Jhunjhunwala of Mid-Day wrote: “You walk into Koi…Mil Gaya expecting to find a mysterious alien, what you end up discovering is a child inside you.”

b.  Krrish (2006)

Starring: Hritik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Naseeruddin Shah, Sharat Saxena

Box Office: Est. NPR 2.02 billion (by Bollywood Hungama in 2020)

krrish_1920x5001656058563.jpg
Krrish Poster Photo: Yash Raj Films

The sequel to Koi…Mil Gaya packs more actions and science than its prequel with a lot of engaging visual effects. The movie was even regarded as the movie of global significance among the movie community.

The 175 minutes sequel relates the story to Krishna, son of previous protagonist who is living with his grandma in a remote village to hide his inherited supernatural powers. He then falls in love with Priya, who was visiting the village and goes to Singapore where he finds that his supposedly dead father is still alive and held captive. To save his father, and also to keep his promise of hiding his real identity made with his grandma, he becomes a masked hero.

The film earns positive responses from the critic community. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama described Krrish as “a terrifically exciting and compelling experience.”

c. Krrish-3 (2013)

Starring: Hritik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Vivek Oberoi, Rajpal Yadav

Box office: Est. NPR 6.30 billion (by Bollywood Hungama in 2013)

The 171 minutes sequel of Krrish and third instalment in the Krrish franchise set a new standard in the visual effects and the cinematography. The movie added a great entertainment value combing the Sci-Fi touch to it even surpassing its prequel.

Rakesh Roshan proved his direction with the continuum of the story which depicts Krrish and his scientist father team up to fight the evil genius ‘Kaal’ and his mutants led by ‘Kaya’. Later the evil genius turns out be the son of Rohit Mehra (the father) developed by Dr. Arya in the lab. Both antagonist and protagonist having supernatural powers, winning, for anyone is hard.

Earning the hearts of fans and critics, the movie became a success story. Madhureeta Mukherjee of Times of India wrote: “For sheer vision, bravado and superlative execution, this one soars to new orbits.”

The series will still be awe-inspiring to watch with children or with the child within you.

1. ‘Robot (Enthiran)’ franchise

Director: S. Shankar

a. Robot (2010)

Starring: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa

Box office: Est. NPR 4.65 billion (by The Indian Express in 2019)

In the world where AI is getting increasingly intelligent, the movie tries to show what if gets sentience and starts to thinks for itself. Setting the bar high for visual effects, it made a name in the international community.

Circling around Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajnikanth) and his research in robotics, the movie sketched the scenario when Chitti (the Robot) gets feelings after an upgrade. This intelligence allowed Chitti to develop feelings for Sana (Vaseegaran’s girlfriend) and in the meantime, Chitti is manipulated by Dr. Bohra; a rival scientist. Movie then revolves around taking back control of Chitti.

Robot was well received by Sci-Fi lovers and the critics as well. Malini Mannath of The New Indian Express noted: “An engaging script, brilliant special effects and debonair hero who still carries his charisma effortlessly.”

 b. 2.0 (2018)

Starring: Rajnikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson

Box office: Est. NPR 10.5 billion (by Times of India in 2019)

Using a lot of special effects, the director beautifully put the story together. The second instalment to the title has brought itself on par with Hollywood blockbusters proving the effective use of technologies by the team.

147 minutes long movie is loaded with the heroism of Chitti who is brought back to life from the prequel. Chitti plays a role of saviour from former ornithologist (bird expert), who seeks vengeance from the cell phone users for their role in avian population decline. The movie then focuses on getting hold of the spirit of Pakshi Rajan using Chitti. Combining environment activism to the story, it helps to convey the message of wildlife protection.    

Gaining a lot of popularity and appraisal, it is loved by a lot of critics as well. Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters expressed: “The film certainly has the look and feel of a big-ticket Hollywood production and that alone is worth the price of the ticket.”

Both instalments in the franchise are equally engaging and surely will be inspirational to watch for children.

Besides these, there are other titles which may find a place in heart of Sci-Fi fans and are worth mentioning: ‘Joker’, ‘Taarzan: The Wonder Car’, ‘I’, ‘Carbon: The Story of Tomorrow’ and ‘Love Story 2050’.

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