Hero - A charmless spectacle!
By: Sonia Chopra
Friday 11 September 2015
Athiya Shetty, Sooraj Pancholi
Post a few establishing shots of Mumbai, we see a villain gorging on meat— an old-school symbolic trick to display the character’s ruthlessness (at another time, another villain is feasting on a green chilli, so there). Then we get to see the ‘Hero’. Actually we don’t see him; we see his back with his name tattooed, his arms with another fancy tattoo, his hand with ‘Maa’ inscribed on it, and then some more.
One minute, he’s doing a handstand on a bed of nails (don’t ask), and in another, he arrives at the meat-chomping villain’s lair, standing up full-frontal now, and holding the post for a few seconds, so we get a good look at him. And then follows the ‘80s style fight sequence with slow-mo leaps, brick walls, and knives and rods for weapons.
Next, he arrives at a nightclub, where he meets the spoilt, rich Inspector General’s daughter Radha (Athiya Shetty), whose idea of fun is pouting (a lot) and taking selfies, even in the bathroom. When she insults a friend of his, Sooraj (Sooraj Pancholi) takes it upon himself to teach her a lesson through song and dance.
Further taming of the shrew happens when he kidnaps Radha and gets her to fall for him, all the while pretending he’s from the police and keeping her safe from main baddie Pasha’s (Aditya Pancholi) men.
Dull child-woman that she is; even upon learning the truth, she isn’t the slightest bit perturbed and wants to be with this lying person with a penchant for violence.
But then she also doesn’t mind when he manhandles her at one point and she coyly says, “You’re hurting me.” (So sweet, no?) Or when he yells at her yet again. One wonders what issues she’s harbouring to be turned on by all this covert and inert violence. But that’s a discussion for another time!
Almost as if the makers (director Nikhil Advani, producer Salman Khan) are well-aware of the film they are presenting to us, everything is propped up to a hyperbolic intensity. So the superb cinematography and scenic locations appear to distract us from the flimsy story, the razzle-dazzle songs are meant for us to overlook the weak acting, and the overall build-up (excellent styling, songs, slick dance numbers) are meant to overcompensate for the absolute lack of charm in the film.
The finale is the last nail in bizarre-land, straight out of any bad ‘80s film. The girl has now shifted from skirts to a salwar-kameez, since she has been tamed by the masculine hero. She squeals as the villain holds her hand, as our hero lays half-dead calling out her name. And then, you know the drift.
Of course, you already know this is a remake of Hero that launched Jackie Shroff in 1983. The original was not a great film but a highly watchable one for various reasons, foremost being the charismatic cast.
Here, the newbie lead pair’s (Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty) rawness is painfully evident, but both have a couple of winning moments in the film. However, this is hardly a dream debut with such an excruciatingly done-to-death subject and such charmless execution of the subject.
In a way that children live their aspirations through their children, Salman Khan seems to have cultivated Sooraj to be a mini-him. From the body to the alpha-male act to the focus on the action to the shrew-taming routine.
Melodramatic dialogue appears where today’s contemporary characters call two competing lovers, “Radha ka sach” and “Radha ka jhoot”. Meanwhile a blonde lady is called “saaman”. And Radha again displays her mental agility by abusing someone calling them “muppet”.
After watching three hours of this torturous film, a thought came to mind. It’s a plea actually. To Salman Khan and all other producers who actually have the power to shape the cinema that reaches us. If you have the resources, filmmaking expertise, and an obvious passion for cinema, why not back good films that take us forward and not a hundred steps behind? Would someone be so kind as to answer this question, please?
Rating: 1.5 stars