Saturday, September 21, 2013

Phata Poster Nikhla Hero  

Recycling Station

Rajkumar Santoshi made his reputation with Sunny Deol’s actioners, but displayed comic flair with the now cult-ish Andaz Apna Apna and the more recent Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani, the poster of which tears to eject the hero of this lame comedy-melodrama, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor).

Phata Poster Nikhla Hero shows all signs of schizophrenic direction. Some light touches and then being dragged back to eighties Bollywood melodrama with the ‘Maaaaaa’ taking centrestage in the hero’s life. Back then, Nirupa Roy stitched clothes to raise her beloved son, Savitri (Padmini Kolhapure) drives an auto-rickshaw and makes the son promise he will be an honest police inspector. Then and now, mother lands up in hospital and lakhs are needed for an operation. Sigh!

Vishwas want to be a film hero. A bit of Munnabhai here—he wears a cop’s uniform for a photoshoot, the ditzy heroine Kajal (Ileana D’Cruz) mistakes him for a real inspector, his photo appears in the paper, mother sees it and lands up to visit, he has to keep up the police inspector pretence and beat up real goondas. So far so tolerable, Shahid Kapoor dutifully does the action-emotion-comedy pieces, then the film tries to do old-style Bollywood with cartoonish villains (Saurabh Shukla-Mukesh Tiwari), clueless commissioner (Darshan Jariwala), plots to destroy Mumbai with “bio chemical bomb” (hah!), and all the hungama that  goes with it—kidnapping, impersonation, convoluted schemes.

Santoshi tries hard to grab the comic flavour of his own and other Bollywood films, but it’s hard to parody absurdity.  To do it well, the insouciance of Salman Khan is needed; he appears in one scene, sends up himself and shows an overwrought Shahid Kapoor how comedy ought to handled—without a care.

Regular film watchers would be able to tell which plot point comes from which old film; maybe today’s college kid audience would find it all novel and funny.  But a “Maaaa” song? Nah! That time is definitely past.


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