Rajkumar Santoshi‘s “Phata Poster Nikhla Hero” unapologetically harks back to Bollywood of the 80s. The characters include the upright mother, the loyal son and the air-headed but charming leading lady. Don’t forget the goofy humour, and the good vs evil fight.
As the protagonist Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapur) tells a character at the end of the film: I have done everything by now – romanced the heroine, danced with the item girl, fought the villain, and helped the police. Santoshi certainly ticked all the boxes, and if he only knew where to stop, he might have ended up with a better-than-average film.
Shahid Kapur plays a small-town boy who harbours dreams of becoming a Bollywood hero. His mother Savitri (Padmini Kolhapure) has different plans. She wants him to become an honest police officer to atone for the sins of her husband, who was everything a police officer shouldn’t be. She sends him to Mumbai to fulfil her dream, but Vishwas is hell-bent on making a career as a Hindi film hero.
A series of coincidences ensue, which leads to him donning a police officer’s uniform, his mother arriving in Mumbai, and a whole lot of hare-brained schemes that are impossible to explain. Suffice to say that the climax involves something called ‘bio-chemical’, which we are told is a liquid, but will convert into gas and destroy thousands of lives.
This isn’t a film that has logic, but it works sporadically, thanks to some clever dialogue and self-deprecating humour. Particularly funny is an inspired cameo from Salman Khan, who plays himself with nonchalance.