This week Nikhil Advani tries to rejig the 1980s masala for the diet cola generation and has come up with a contraption high on fizz, low on substance. It is a kind of film where the hero makes an entry on a bulldozer and the villain bamboozles with his punchlines; a film where the heroine has to remain oblivious to the obvious and just has to concentrate on her pout when the wind from a fan caresses her hair. Oh! Yes, she uses stupid liberally for someone who is not noticing her advances. It is a kind of film which expects us to go back in time which we have outgrown and enjoy it because the director is trying to make it appear cool.
The idea is to retrofit Subhash Ghai’s 1983 hit to launch two new star kids: Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty. And like Ghai, who made an impact by launching Jackie Shroff in times of Amitabh Bachchan, Advani has done a lot of padding around the lead players to hide their limitations. The support cast led by Aditya Pancholi, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sharad Kelkar try create a strong ground so that Sooraj and Athiya take a leap. Plus, the stylistic cinematography, fast cutting, immersive action choreography and booming background sound make you give the young romance a chance to bloom. And for a moment or two you do feel that we have a winner on our hand particularly because Tigmanshu and Sharad make you feel normal in this larger-than-life space.
However, as Sooraj says truth is difficult to hide when sleek action gives way to emotion, Hero loses its ground. We sorely miss the rawness of the original as the conflict increasingly feels staged and even the action sounds hollow like a well-shot ad film.
More importantly, the second half which requires the narrative to breathe, the emotional upheaval falls flat. Part of the reason is lack of gravity in the music department. There is no “Lambi Judaai” kind of musical expression to convey the depth of love. Or for that matter there is nothing like “Nindiya Se Jaagi Bahar” in the first half to give innocence a voice.
Those who look at the past without coloured lenses would remember that the second half of the original was a bit cheesy and to carry it off in today’s time requires a lot of rewriting. But Advani sticks to the original and pays the price as the climax is reduced to a charade. The fearlessness of love that the original smartly celebrated with the line ‘jo darte hain who pyaar karte nahin’ seldom shines through here. When Mathur says towards the end that he knew what it is all leading up to, he seems to be conveying our frustration.
Also, Sooraj and Athiya don’t grow during the course of the film and as the support system vanishes in the second half their limitations become hard to hide. Athiya doesn’t have that kind of personality either.
She tries hard to be one of those who will feign coyness but such scripts require a natural flair to be dumb. Sooraj is slightly better but doesn’t give the impression of a brooding, angry young man who can single-handedly change things for Pasha. At the most Sooraj comes across as the boy who is irked because his father has not been able to bring the promised gizmos. There is more to acting than doing a head stand on nails. Right now his tattoos speak more than his face but some day with the right script he might shine. For now he is just a pale shadow of his godfather Salman Khan.