Ripped Apart

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SummaryRajkumar Santoshi has built a two-and-a-half hour film which is meant to make us laugh, but ends up making us groan instead.

Movie: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero

DIRECTOR: Rajkumar Santoshi

CAST: Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Padmini Kolhapure, Saurabh Shukla, Darshan Jariwala, Sanjay Mishra

*1/2

There’s a song early in the film which has leading man Shahid Kapoor groove most entertainingly. There’s an infectious spirit of fun in the lyrics and the choreography, and in the way the hero plays a little silly, a little mad.

And you hope that this spirit will colour the rest of the film, about a fellow who wants to be a film hero, and whose mother wants him to be a cop. Alas, that doesn’t happen. On this one-liner of a plot, Rajkumar Santoshi has built a two-and-a-half-hour film which is meant to make us laugh, but ends up making us groan instead.

Actually, you begin wincing right from when a standard Bollywood mother is presented to us in the shape of Padmini Kolhapure. She lectures her little boy Vishwas Rao (Kapoor) on the virtues of doing the right thing, with deathly seriousness. Now if Santoshi wanted to send up standard Bollywood tropes like the maaaa, and the good hero, and the bad guy, which is what he seems to want to, Kolhapure strikes the wrong note. Where is the nudge and the wink? And that is what happens right through this tedious tale, which drags on with little relief.

The characters are all caricatures in the dullest, stodgiest way possible. Kajal (D’Cruz), the ditzy heroine, is pretty and vacuous. Saurabh Shukla is a rotund bad guy who looks as if he is up for the laughs, but is ill-used. Darshan Jariwala plays a cop and is seen to be trying very hard. The end, which involves a jokey villain, a “gas” bomb, bumbling cops and robbers, along with the rest of the cast, is properly preposterous. Why couldn’t this have been the tone throughout?

Kapoor, who’s had a recent run of bad films, does everything he can. Dancing, romancing, fighting. He even shows he is learning to laugh at himself. At one point, there’s a reference to Andaz Apna Apna, the riotous Santoshi comedy, which makes me roll on the floor every time I watch it. Salman Khan shows up for a scene, steals it, and the movie.

Andaz Apna Apna showed how Santoshi could do it. Any chances of an encore?

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