Phata Poster Nikala Hero

Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Padmini Kohlapure, Ileana D’Cruz

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Rajkumar Santoshi’s films often tend to be an acquired taste – the blend of the absurd, farcical and referential is not to everyone’s taste and how you feel about Santoshi’s brand will obviously determine whether you will enjoy Phata Poster Nikala Hero (PPNH).  I quite like the silliness and though sometimes there was a little too much of it not to mention an extremely wobbly first half, PPNH is the rare film that gets better in the second half when it has direction and a platform to marry together its off the wall charm with a clear purpose and as always ends up finishing on a high.

The main strength of PPNH is the humour which manages to avoid being offensive or resorting to cheap tactics for a laugh – instead there are layered jokes with a visual, linguistic and metaphorical element, which combined make for enjoyable viewing but at times, collapse under the weight of their own intellect. I also felt the songs could have been weaved into the screenplay in a more refined manner but then PPNH doesn’t have any aspirations other than to entertain within a self imposed remit and as it does this with a degree of integrity, this was more endearing than annoying.

Performance wise, Kapoor throws himself into his role and turns in a likeable and fun performance – I liked that he wasn’t afraid to really play to the gallery and though at times he misses the mark, one can’t fault his effort or enthusiasm. For me, this is certainly one of Kapoor’s better offerings in recent times. D’Cruz surprised me as she is rather good as Kajal – not only does she have good comic timing but she makes sure she stands out for good reason. I really liked Padmini Kohlapure as Vishwas’ mother – she really inhabits the role well and differentiates her mother role from a standard issue hero ki maa (hero’s mother). I also thought this was good casting as she shares a good energy with Shahid on screen.

PPNH is a fun film that was much better than I expected it to be. Yes, it could have been reworked and rewritten in parts but that would also destroy the momentum and determination that the film finds in the second half which is rather watchable. For those not familiar with Santoshi’s work PPNH won’t win him any new fans nor is it very broad in its appeal but for those who like his command of intertextuality and self referencing, PPNH is definitely worth a  watch. Plus, it is an example to other comedies which shows there is no need for bawdiness or sleaziness to be edgy. Instead, the down to earth nature of it all is refreshing – Anees Bazmi and Indra Kumar would do well to take note…


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