Wah, kya title hai! You wish you could say the same about the film. At one point, the central protagonist says the film has ‘ma-beta ka emotion, heroine ke saath romance, item girl ke saath dance and action’. That, exactly, is the film’s undoing.
Scattered without forming a unique texture of its own, the film’s first half is a comedy with a tolerable amount of drama insinuated. But the second half is a grand mess with a hero who is a victim of mistaken identity, a villain who is hell bent on blowing up Mumbai with chemical weapons (pray, why? there’s no agenda explained), a don’s den that’s as accessible as a children’s park, a few gadgets that are more like James Bond cast-offs, and the ubiquitous, constantly suffering ma (mother). Whew!
The film’s second half is a study in “how not to ruin a great first half”. The comedy gets thrown out of the window, bringing the melodramatic ma-beta (mom-son) relationship in focus. The mother (Padmini Kolhapure), who raised Vishwas (Shahid Kapoor) single-handedly, wants him to grow up to be a cop. She’s been grooming him for the job since he was a kid while ignoring his interest in acting completely (child cruelty, this).
And when Vishwas is sent to Mumbai to join the police, he takes the opportunity to try his hand at acting. A hired police uniform is all it takes for him to be embroiled in a case of mistaken identity.
The film is supposed to be a comedy, but sadly you can hardly recall any funny lines or moments. It has been left to Shahid Kapoor and his goofy act to draw in the laughs. And for how long can you watch goofy?
Also included are self-congratulatory parodies of Rajkumar Santoshi’s own films (the tareek pe tareek spoof mouthed by an actor talking about auditions is superb), and references to iconic dialogues (which the film manages to cream, sadly). Naturally, the poster that tears to introduce the hero is Santoshi’s previous film, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.
One of the few lines that manage to stay with you is the spoof of the iconic “mere paas ma hai” dialogue. Another scene worth mentioning is the one where Shahid employs his actor friends to impress his mother.
There are some silly gags like naming the villain’s sidekicks RDX and Biscuit. (Side-note: The makers might also want to correct the wrongly spelled “We are Greatful” in the opening credits.)
Writer-director Santoshi pulls in entertaining gimmicks like Salman Khan’s cameo where he mentions Andaz Apna Apna 2. As a result, it’s a film that works in fits and starts.
But the film is still below-par for Santoshi’s caliber and one hopes he returns to his Damini, Ghayal, Andaz Apna Apna form pronto!
The songs are introduced abruptly, retro-style. The heroine, who is given an identity apart from being the love interest, is sidelined towards the end. Even the auto-rickshaw-driving mother’s character, a twist from the cliche, ends up being exactly that eventually.
What also pulls the film down are repetitive scenes— you have women in trouble (literally) screaming ‘bachao bachao’ on more than one occasion. In fact, that’s how the film starts. The dialogue is over-explanatory, another form of tiresome repetition.
The finale of a comedy film is supremely important. Here, it’s supposed to be a hilariously muddled mess. But it’s just, plain, muddled. In fact it’s a tad reminiscent of Ajab Prem…, only a lot less funny. Even the attention-grabbing background score doesn’t help.
The film rests on Shahid Kapoor’s shoulders. The actor is over-earnest, but his comic act cracks you up occasionally. Ileana D’Cruz, who made a smashing debut with Barfi! is given an unimpressive role, and she puts in an average performance. The talented character actor cast can barely salvage the film.
Phata Poster Nikla Hero is just about watchable for the few funny moments and an interesting first half.
Rating: Two and a half stars