More importantly: Said hero can do a mean doggie dance.
What you probably don’t know: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero is a period film; set in the 1980s, where Shahid Kapoor plays a role that Dharmendra could’ve shot in his sleep.
Okay, so it’s not. But it could be.
Because: It starts with our hero in school, followed by a mother-son bonding number, melodramatic flashbacks and mommies who land in intensive care wards on discovering their beta’s deceit.
Bottom-line: Same old conflicts, same old emotionality—Mar gayi teri maa/Main bahut chhoti thi jab mere maa-baap guzar gaye.
Or better still: Imagine a hodgepodge of Salman Khan’s vain, wannabe actor in Andaz Apna Apna, Dharmendra’s pretend cop in Naukar Biwi Ka and Akshay Kumar’s fake prosperity to please his village residing mom in Hera Pheri. Phate posters, recycled hero.
You can spot early signs of trouble: When Shahid rips through a grinning Ranbir Kapoor poster to validate the movie’s title and jumps right into the mouth of action surrounded by, again, posters of the worst movies to be inflicted on mankind in recent times.
What you are likely to remember is: Ranbir’s cutout (having the last laugh.)
If you are a die-hard fan of Andaz Apna Apna like yours truly: Then you’ll find nothing campy about how writer/director Rajkumar Santoshi references his own creation in the most sloppy, unimaginative fashion.
Besides the generic tossing of Haila/Ooimaas, many scenes smack of ‘Aap mahaan hai, gyaani hai’ while the confusing word play of ‘Tum jo ho woh tum nahi ho woh woh hai. Woh jo hai woh woh nahi hai tum ho’ becomes ‘Main police officer hoon magar nahi hoon aap ki nazar mein. Aap police commissioner hain magar nahi hain maa ki nazar mein.’
Seriously, Santoshi Sir: Mark kidhar hai?
Looks like the lets-pay-tribute-to-myself bug has bitten the filmmaker too hard: Even his previous caper, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani followed the absurd-is-amusing tone of cult classic, Andaz Apna Apna but succeeded to a large extent because of Ranbir’s fervour, Katrina’s candour, Pritam’s melodies, a relatively cohesive plot and zest in its wit.
Too many cut-and-paste elements: There’s Darshan Jariwala (again), Mera bina tu looks like a Tu jaane naa knockoff, a cameo from the same star (neat shtick though) as previous film and a nearly identical climax.
Even Crimemaster Gogo will agree that: PPNH tries too hard to impersonate both Andaz Apna Apna’s flaky sense of humour and Ajab Prem’s loony energy but cannot conceal its urge to include a dated brand of soppy sentiments.
The upshot is a film with a multiple personality disorder.
Main hero (in pain safety pin/in pin out) hoon: Regardless of the script’s uneven pace and indecisive disposition, Shahid, armed with a kooky grin, gives it his best shot. In some scenes, his vigour results in an overdone performance but in most places, especially dance sequences (Agal bagal, Dhating naach and a seductive pole dance), the star is in complete command.
Zero support for the hero: Padmini Kolhapure, as his auto-rickshaw driving mother, has a meaty role but sticks out like a sore thumb in this crazy rollercoaster of silly and sober.
Ileana D’Cruz, with whom I was wildly impressed in Barfi! is simply required to arch her eyebrows here. And, well, she doesn’t improvise.
While Darshan Jariwala is uncharacteristically restrained; Mukesh Tiwai remains reliably growly whereas the chubby cheeked Zakir Hussain, Saurabh Shukla and Sanjay Mishra go for the mock approach in a film that cannot decide if it’s a comedy or a parody.
It has its few moments: Occasionally, I half-smiled at the laboured silliness put forth by this clean but clichéd farce. Only the darn poster is, ultimately, too phata, purana for anything to come out of it except disillusionment.
This review was first published on rediff.com.