Movie Review: Hero

September 11, 2015

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Handout still from "Hero"When Sajid Khan remade “Himmatwala” in 2013, actor Naseeruddin Shah said films that shouldn’t have been made in the first place are being remade. Subhash Ghai‘s “Hero” (1983) fits that mould. A one-toned and regressive film that looks good only through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, Nikhil Advani‘s remake does not even attempt to iron out flaws in the narrative.

Instead, director Advani chooses to fashion his film in the unimaginative format of the Bollywood launch vehicle – a film made for the sole purpose of introducing the two main actors. So the first shot of Advani’s hero (Sooraj Pancholi) shows his bulging biceps and the first scene is a fight sequence in which he single-handedly annihilates the opposition.

On the other hand, actress Athiya Shetty is introduced with shots of bare skin, a pout and the audience is told that she loves dancing and taking selfies. Advani sticks to this casual sexism throughout the film – the girl is always cowering and waiting to be protected, while the boy is the one doing the protecting.

Advani makes only cosmetic changes to the original film’s storyline – a small-time gangster kidnapping a police officer’s daughter. Stockholm Syndrome sets in, Radha (Shetty) falls in love with Sooraj (Pancholi), and then come the clichés that film-makers employ when they don’t have much to work with.

Handout still from "Hero"Characters walk in and out of the narrative without context – Aditya Pancholi plays the politician who hires Sooraj for the kidnapping to take revenge on Radha’s father, but midway through “Hero”, he disappears from the scene. Chetan Hansraj plays a baddie who appears out of nowhere at random intervals, gets clobbered by the hero, and then slinks away. Who he is and what his intention is, we are never told.

What doesn’t help “Hero” is that the two people at the centre of this rather weak script are on an even weaker footing. Both Pancholi and Shetty seem awkward and self-conscious in front of the camera, and overcompensate for their seeming lack of acting talent by either screeching instead of emoting (Shetty) or adopting a fierce look at all times (Pancholi).

But even they seem bearable compared with Tigmanshu Dhulia, whose performance as Radha’s father is perhaps the most amateurish acting Bollywood has seen in a while. Dhulia can neither pull off the tough policeman routine, nor can he manage the role of the girl’s father – and the end result is comical.

That comic relief, though unintentional, is welcome in a film that otherwise provides no entertainment. It is only in the closing credits of “Hero”, when co-producer Salman Khan appears on screen, do you get the feeling that there is a star in the film.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan; follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay, and Tony @tonytharakan. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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