Shah Rukh Khan's 'Ra.One': Bollywood goes Hollywood
“What if something that is meant to be played, starts playing with your life,” the trailer for “Ra.One” begins, asking a question you surely have thought about every time you picked up a video-game controller, your Blackberry or a French horn.
If you’ve never heard of the movie that tag line is promoting, “Ra.One,” you clearly haven’t been keeping up with the latest in Bollywood big bets. A slick science-fiction movie with some Eastern-influenced action, the Anubhav Singha film stars Bollywood mega-star Shah Rukh Khan and comes out to great worldwide (if not exactly domestic) anticipation on Wednesday. A lot of rupees are riding on it: At a budget of roughly $30 million, "Ra.One" is being touted as the most expensive Hindi production in history.
To hear the press materials tell it: “A father trying hard to 'fit-in' in his Son's bad*** world- A son trying hard to 'dude-up' his dad from 'aiiiyyyo' to 'YO!' And a mother lost in translation between her husband's 'ingeva' and her son's Inn'it!' While Shekhar was trying every trick in the book to woo his son, get 'dude-ified' and 'up his coolness quotient' his son had given up on him.. Just when the father-son duo hit a deadlock- Shekhar strikes gold when he designs one hell of a game. Finally it all starts falling in place; as the family comes together only to find themselves in the middle of a crash not just a hard drive crash but a crash that would drive them to a disaster and make their lives go KABOOM!!!”
Kabooming descriptions aside, "Ra.One" is reminiscent of what China is trying to with “The Flowers of War,” an effects-driven epic modeled after the big-budget spectacle of "Saving Private Ryan” and other Hollywood war films--only in this case the Asian production is following in the path of science-fiction heavyweights like James Cameron and his progenitors.
Indeed, as you can see from the trailer below, “Ra.One” looks shiny and expensive, and is a far cry from the song-and-dance numbers most often associated with Bollywood movies, though whether it’s sufficiently different from “Tron” and a host of other Hollywood confections is a separate question.