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Koi Mil Gaya – The Right Way to Copy

Koi Mil Gaya is not generally regarded as a critically-acclaimed masterpiece. It was a great commercial success at the time of its release though and was a great mass hit. Unlike many movie critics and film aficionados today who dismiss films with mass appeal, I don’t.

Fantasy Bollywood movies often end up being box office duds. However, Koi Mil Gaya bucked this trend effectively. It succeeded in introducing concepts of science fiction to a mass Indian audience never introduced to the same. The success of Koi Mil Gaya was so inspiring that it spawned another movie series entirely (Krrish and Krrish 3).

Why did Koi Mil Gaya succeed? The natural reason one can give is the presence of superstars like Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta. However, Indian films with big stars often fail. Having a great star cast is not a guarantee of success.

To understand the success of Koi Mil Gaya, we thus analyze its style of storytelling. This is where the success of the film becomes much more apparent. Furthermore, we also learn about the art of copying films and stories, and the right way to do it.

The Art of Copying

Copying gets a bad rap because it doesn’t involve any real creativity. However, in a world where true originality is scarce, copying has become an acceptable art form.

Quentin Tarantino also copies and steals ideas from other movies.

Surprised?

Here’s a video which explains how the director uses elements from different movies and puts them together to create one great cocktail.

The genius of Tarantino lies in stealing ideas and elements from a range of different films before putting them together. He knows exactly how to bring different elements together to build one complete film.

Does this make him a bad director? No, just a smart one. There is an argument on whether true originality is now an unrealistic ideal. Storytellers have been telling stories for so long that there is bound to be some repetition.

What is the art of copying? It is simply knowing which things to copy while making a film or writing a book.

Many Indian filmmakers and writers give more attention to copying the wrong things. There are bucket loads of Bollywood fantasy films that only copy visual effects from Hollywood fantasy epics. Such films often fail because they don’t address the central reason behind the success of the movies they copy – the story.

Koi Mil Gaya doesn’t make this mistake.  

Koi Mil Gaya – How to Copy the Right Things?

If you watch Bollywood movies, you’d know about the tradition of remaking Hollywood films. Many of our films are direct copies of Western movies from Hollywood and other film setups.

Koi Mil Gaya is also a copy. Steven Spielberg’s ET and Koi Mil Gaya don’t just have storytelling coincidences. It is a plain and simple copy.

Here is where we discover the first obvious reason for Koi Mil Gaya’s success. It is not taking a risk by telling a new story. Instead, the director is taking a tried-and-tested idea and changing it a little for Indian sensibilities. The real risk in filmmaking or storytelling comes when you try to do something new. However, Koi Mil Gaya stays away from this risk and thus increases its chances of success.

However, deciding to copy ET is not the only reason for KMG’s success.

There are so many films Indian studios copy every year. How many such films find any success? Simply copying a movie’s script is not a solution. There is an art in copying films and other forms of media.

When Koi Mil Gaya copies ET, it picks up the parts of the story which are essential to its success. Here are a few examples of the things Koi Mil Gaya copies from ET which actually make the former a roaring success.

Relationship between Elliot and the Alien = Rohit and Jaadu

The most important aspect of both ET and Koi Mil Gaya is the relationship between the alien and the child. In ET, Elliot and the alien share a very close bond. Everything in the story works from this strong premise. In the alien, Elliot finds a loyal friend.

The innocence of friendship and the profound loyalty it invokes are beautifully conveyed in ET. Melissa Mathison, the writer of ET, bets her entire plot on the unbreakable bond between the two.

Koi Mil Gaya also copies this element of ET very well. From the very beginning, the film isolates the protagonist (Rohit) from the rest of the cast and makes him the subject of constant ridicule. When Jaadu (the alien) finally arrives, Rohit finds a friend who, like him, is an outsider.

This bond forms the crux of the entire story. All the major decisions Rohit makes henceforth in the film are based on his loyalty for Jaadu. Despite his mental problems, Rohit overcomes all odds to help Jaadu return home.

Thus, Koi Mil Gaya does a brilliant job of replicating the Elliot-ET relationship.

Less Emphasis on Special Effects

As a film, ET was low on special effects unlike some of its contemporaries like Star Wars and Star Trek. This also helps Koi Mil Gaya.

In copying ET, Koi Mil Gaya rarely tries to match the prowess of Hollywood in special effects. Instead, its main focus is always on telling an honest story. There are moments of special effects, of course, but they are few and far in between.

This is a significant plus point for KMG. Many other Indian fantasy films copy special effects from blockbuster Hollywood movies without giving any attention to their complex storytelling.

Take Ra One as an example. It takes inspiration from many Hollywood movies such as The Matrix and Iron Man. However, it doesn’t borrow the same storytelling elements that are crucial to their success. Copying special effects is not enough. The ability to tell a good story along with them is essential.

Thus, Ra One failed spectacularly despite breaking new ground in visual effects in Indian cinema. At the end of the day, people in theatres are there to watch a story.

Final Words – Koi Mil Gaya

I am not claiming KMG is a great epic that deserves more praise. However, it is a good example of how to copy from an existing movie. Simply taking a foreign script and replacing foreign names and places with Indian counterparts doesn’t work.

Koi Mil Gaya shows how to effectively copy ideas and elements from another movie. I am not encouraging writers today to steal ideas from other writers. Instead, this is merely an example of how to perform a regular industry practice effectively.

Also read: What is Speculative Fiction?
Also read: Indian Fantasy Novels: The Best Fantasy Fiction From India
Also read: Ten Speculative Books You Should’ve Already Read

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