Friday, September 11, 2015


Release date:
September 11, 2015
Nikhil Advani

Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty, Sharad Kelkar, Aditya Pancholi, Tigmanshu Dhulia

Within the first 10 minutes of the film, he bashes up a bad guy, dances in a nightclub, then bashes up a villain in the club. About 30 minutes into the film, we see him shirtless, pummelling a punching bag in a snow-laden setting.

Fighting skills displayed: check.

Dancing skills displayed: check.

Muscular body displayed: check.

Acting skills displayed? Ah now, there arises the problem.

Hero is very clearly intended primarily as a showcase for Sooraj Pancholi, son of actors Zarina Wahab and Aditya Pancholi, but someone appears to have forgotten that what counts most for a film actor are screen presence and/or acting abilities. No gym can compensate for a lack of those. Dance institutes and acting schools can give you moves and techniques, but they cannot teach you talent or charisma. Sooraj shows no signs of possessing either – well at least not in this film.

It’s possible that Master Pancholi is cute. He does show a glimmer of what might be a sweet smile in a couple of scenes. But at no point does that glimmer become a full-fledged grin because he appears to have been advised to ‘do intensity’ by staying unsmiling and expressionless here. Can he act? Who knows? What we do know is that in Hero, he barely twitches a facial muscle.

His co-star Athiya Shetty, actor Sunil Shetty’s daughter, is not one of those sparklers that goes pop, crackle and fizz at first sight, but let us not brush her aside. Her heavy bone structure takes some getting used to, but at least she looks different from the assembly-line women playing pretty props in film after film these days. When she’s not pouting and ‘doing cute’, she appears like she could potentially be interesting in an interesting film. In this one though, she is not.

Guess you’ve gathered by now that Hero is dull dull dull. As you may know, this is a remake of Subhash Ghai’s 1983 hit of the same name starring Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri. That Hero was not great, but it was fun, had likeable leads, Jackie really could act and the music was memorable, especially that lovely flute piece which was revisited exceptionally well in 2014’s Heropanti, which marked Jackie’s son Tiger’s acting debut. If you must remake a not-so-great film, at least contemporise the story and/or the treatment. This one does neither of the above.

Subhash G’s post-2000 films (except for 2008’s Black and White) have been disasters because he keeps using the same story tropés, the same camera angles, the same sweeping shots. It’s as if he is stuck in a time warp. Frankly, you could be forgiven for assuming that this Hero too is ghost directed by the veteran director. That’s how tired Nikhil Advani’s remake feels.

The story is about a hooligan called Sooraj Kaushik (Sooraj) in Mumbai who is commissioned by gangster Suryakanth Pasha (Aditya Pancholi) to kidnap Radha Mathur (Athiya), daughter of IGP Shrikanth Mathur (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Sooraj and his gang take Radha to a secluded place by pretending to be policemen and convincing her that her dad sent them to protect her from Pasha. True love follows. Though he insists that “Ek IG ki beti kabhi ek goondey se pyaar nahin kar sakti”, they decide to give their relationship a shot even after she discovers the truth. Their path is strewn with obstacles: her father’s opposition, Pasha’s anger and one laughably executed twist involving a prince called Rannvijay Shekhawat (Vivan Bhathena).

Actually, I did not mind that last stupid plot point too much because at least Vivan is good looking in a naturally sexy model-like way (FYI he is a former Mr India) and even though he is required to mostly over-act here, it’s still evident that he’s a far far far better actor than Sooraj.

The other cast member who rises above this limpid film is Sharad Kelkar as Radha’s brother Dheeraj. On the other hand, it’s sad to see a fine actor like Tigmanshu reduced to mouthing cliched lines in cliched settings that are amusing though they’re intended to be sorrowful.

Even the music is just so-so. Main hoon hero tera sung by Salman Khan – who is also the film’s producer – is not a bad melody I guess, but the only reason I was relieved to see Salman appearing in the end to sing it with the end credits was because that meant the credits would not be accompanied by an ‘item’ song featuring Sooraj and Athiya. Whew!

It’s time Bollywood films moved beyond trite build-ups to romances that involve the heroine being inexplicably mean to someone, thus providing an excuse for the hero to put her in her place with a touch of roughing up, seconds after which she falls in love with him. It’s time directors stopped getting well-built male stars to rip off their own shirts or have their clothes blown away by the wind in the middle of a climactic fight to flaunt their ripped torsos – for god’s sake, that worked in Dabangg because Salman’s confrontation with Sonu Sood was executed in a part-serious-part-comic tone. It’s time they stopped getting comedians to speak in rhymes. In Hero, a gori woman tells her obese lover: “You are my Mr Right, but I want your body tight.”

Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.

Rating (out of five): *

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
132 minutes 

Poster courtesy: Salman Khan Films

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