Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor) is an aspiring actor who, through a series of events, gets mistaken for a cop first by “Complaint Kaajal” (Ileana D’Cruz), and then by a host of other people. He has to keep the charade going to please his mother (Padmini Kolhapure), whose number one goal is to see her son became an honest policeman. Things start to go awry for Vishwas when his pretense leads to some gang trouble, and he unwittingly gets roped into the whole mess.
Rajkumar Santoshi has proven before that he can ace the comedy genre – but does he do it this time around? Here’s what we think!
The film kicks off pleasantly enough in true Rajkumar Santoshi style – ridiculous dialogues (“Pyaaz ke chilkon“), and exaggerated comedy. There are quite a few moments that will have you laughing, especially if you’re a fan of the Andaz Apna Apna variety of comedy. Most notably, the “yeh saaad story hai” sequence (as seen in the trailer) is hilarious in an intentionally overblown way. That scene, in particular, manages to be just the right amount of over-the-top, without breaching “trying too hard” territory.
Salman Khan‘s cameo was perfectly representative of a Rajkumar Santoshi comedy too. He makes fun of himself, and drops in a few Andaz Apna Apna references which will make all the die-hard fans of the cult series smile.
The problem, however, is that there just aren’t enough of these moments. For the most part, Phata Poster Nikhla Hero ends up feeling dull – especially in the second half. While the first half is amusing, things go downhill post interval. The pace slackens and the comedy takes the backseat when Rajkumar Santoshi tries to bring in a more serious element. It does pick up again towards the climax, but that felt unoriginal too since the set-up is very much similar to Santoshi’s last, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani.
The songs also feel oddly placed – perhaps because most of them were shot after the film was completed, and then inserted almost as an afterthought. It was disorienting to see Shahid’s longer hair in a song, and then have him sport a different cut in the next scene, just because the two were shot over different time periods. Agal Bagal and Dhating Naach were more fun on the big screen, but Mere Bina Tu felt completely unnecessary, and was shot rather strangely.
Phata Poster Nikhla Hero‘s saving grace is the performances. Rajkumar Santoshi brought in some big names in comedy – Sanjay Mishra, Saurabh Shukla, Darshan Jariwala – and they all do a fantastic job, especially when playing off each other. Although Shahid Kapoor occasionally slips into overacting mode, he mostly gives an excellent performance. It was a new kind of role for him, and he did the most that he could with a faltering script. His action sequences are top-notch, and he’s exceptionally good in one scene that required him to convince a director that he’s capable of playing a villain.
Ileana D’Cruz has a smaller role, but she’s endearing as the chirpy Kaajal. I wish she had something meatier, because she’s proven before that she’s a talented actress. Padmini Kohlapure, as Shahid’s mom, gets a bit filmy at times, but is otherwise fantastic.
Phata Poster Nikhla Hero hits some of the right notes, but falls flat in others. It’s worth a watch for the good performances, especially if you’re a fan of Shahid.