Film Review: 'Hero'
Opened: 11 September 2015
Cast: Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kelkar, Vivan Bhathena
Director: Nikhil Advani
Producers: Salman Khan, Subhash Ghai, Eros
'Rebels... Love.... Freedom' screams the tagline of this week's big ticket release, Hero, which launches Sooraj Pancholi, he of bulging Biceps but otherwise ordinary looks and actor Aditya Pancholi's son, and Athiya Shetty, she of impressive Cheekbones and imposing height and actor Sunil Shetty's daughter.
Unfortunately, there's nothing quite as passionate and rebellious as the tagline in the film's content which is so drab and devoid of any originality that it does a massive disservice to the original 1983 Subhash Ghai film of which it is a remake. That iconic film with its timeless music was itself far from flawless, but an endearing cast coupled with an engaging screenplay more than covered up for its innumerable discrepancies.
First and foremost. Don't be fooled. This isn't actually a remake. Save for a few vague similarities to the 80s version, this Hero is an ENTIRELY different film where characters just appear into frames without any clear rhyme or reason, and one that effectively has a bratty love story at its core – a love story so insipid, it fails to connect in any shape or form, despite its wannabe, current, 'gen-next' 'alt+control+delete' dialogue which is neither cute nor endearing.
Coming back to the film's plot, Biceps meets Cheekbones in a nightclub, and inevitably the coquettish duo are drawn to one another, despite one being a spoilt little daddy's girl and another being a local goon, who indulges in the occasional 'hero-giri' by bulldozing through walls in a local neighbourhood.
Like the original, goon kidnaps bratty rich girl and it's a classic case of Stockholm syndrome, whereby Cheekbones falls hook line and sinker for our unsuspecting hero, while he's mid way through flexing his Biceps in sub-zero temperatures no less. Naturally though, we still have ninety more minutes to fill at this point, so cue obligatory familial opposition, speed breakers in the form of songs that serve as mere fillers, and unnecessary bloodshed and violence, that eventually lead to a predictable and humdrum finale which doesn't boast of even an iota of inspiration.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for newcomers and fresh new talent, so long as they bring something different and original to the table. Good debutants can make even a sub standard film tolerable – there are so many cases in point: Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, Student Of The Year being a couple of the examples that immediately come to mind. Here, Pancholi and Shetty are stilted by such an awful script and sketchy characterisation (probably for no fault of theirs), that despite having unmistakable screen presence and showing some sparks in the dramatic sequences, neither of them really rise above what's been handed to them despite their best efforts.
Shetty's character especially, is the film's biggest casualty because she's stripped off all the innocence that made Meenakshi Sheshadri's Radha so likeable. Here she's projected as nothing more than a randy, spoilt bimbo who ogles at Pancholi's torso, and throws her toys out of her pram when things don't go her way. I mean, at one point her whining becomes so insufferable you just want to shove a pacifier in her mouth and ask her to STFU. Again, it's probably not her fault. She does grow on you in the film's penultimate reels and I suspect the newbie probably needed a more demure character with which to work with. It's quite evident that unlike Alia or Kareena in her heyday, Shetty is visibly uncomfortable in the diva-esque avatar she's been asked to pull off, and it's the crassness of her character that undoes the film of what little is left of it.
Pancholi, on the other hand, manages to escape a little less unscathed. He pulls off the action sequences and a few romantic scenes well and I suspect has potential if honed by the right director. See this is just it. A director like Imtiaz Ali would have perhaps drawn an innocence from the duo, which would have made us connect with their story, but here Nikhil Advani spectacularly botches it up by just going by the book and doling out a story and characters we couldn't give two hoots about – in parts you almost feel bad for the newcomers when despite trying the script fails them, and only one person is to blame for that – the captain of the ship. Was he too pre-occupied with next week's Katti Batti, which he also directs I wonder? Then again, neither Sunil Shetty nor Aditya Pancholi (evidence of which we see in this very film), were any great shakes when it came to acting, so is it really fair to expect that much from their off spring? Guess not.
Despite being an epic misfire in almost every way Hero does have the odd bright spark. The songs despite being woefully misplaced don't grate, and 'Main Hoon Hero Tera' especially, is hands down one of the better compositions this year, so you thank the stars every time Armaan Malik's soothing voice plays against an otherwise headache inducing background score.
The production values and cinematography are of a high standard too, so by and by one can't really fault producers Subhash Ghai and Salman Khan. They seem to have pulled out all the stops to ensure a polished product, it's the director that seems to have let them down, which is a bit of a shame really, because both star kids deserved a better, far better launchpad than this pile of trite that both they, and we were burdened with.
To sum up, I tried not to go in with pre-conceived notions, but I suppose my prophecy from last week summed it up rather well:
And a more recent gem: