The most fun moment in Phata Poster Nikla Hero is the one in which Salman Khan makes a cameo appearance. It lasts for just about two minute, which means for hours, you just sit there wondering what on earth you’re watching. And then comes the film's climax, which will confuse the hell out of everyone who saw director Rajkumar Santoshi’s last film, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani because you think you’ve bought a ticket to see the Shahid Kapoor-Ileana D’Cruz starrer Phata Poster, but what’s playing on screen seems to be from Ajab Prem. If Phata Poster is meant to be a comedy, it isn’t funny. If it is an action film, then it’s so last decade. What it definitely is, is a disappointment.
Phata Poster is about an aspiring actor, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor) who wants to be a famous hero one day. However, his mother (a wonderful Padmini Kolhapure) is an honest, auto-rickshaw driver who wants her son to be a good cop. This mother-son relationship is actually the anchor of the film and at several points strains of ‘Tujhe sab hai pata, meri maa’ (from Taare Zaamein Par) like song float in the background.
Thanks to a serendipitous turn of events, the Mumbai police as well as goons start believing that Vishwas is in fact a police inspector. Next thing you know, this fake cop and his mum are caught in the crossfire between the police and the Gundappa gang (baddies, obviously).
Shahid Kapoor owns whatever there is to own in this film. His face is like all the emoticons that you have ever seen, rolled into one. This could have been a bad thing, but when Kapoor pulls all these expressions, he manages to make it work. He is delightful in dance numbers like Khali Pili and Dhating Naach. However, there is only so much that he can with a half-baked character and a messy plot.
Technically speaking, Vishwas Rao isn’t Chulbul Pandey (Dabangg) or Bajirao Singham (Singham). Neither is he anything like Akshay Kumar’s Bahattar Singh (Khiladi 786). And yet, all these men are so generic that you can’t help comparing them.
Vishwas, like all his illustrious onscreen predecessors, beats up a mini army of beefed-up men without a stain of sweat on his khaki uniform. He comes up with one-liners as though he as a copywriter of an advertising agency on hire. Unfortunately, Vishwas isn’t half as endearing as Chulbul Pandey or even remotely as cocky as Bahattar Singh. Thanks to the script, he spends most of his screen time trying too hard to be funny.
Vishwas’s love interest is Kajal, a social worker who’s sole aim in life is to register FIRs against wrongdoers. Played by Ileana D’Cruz whom we last saw in Barfi!, she’s known as “Complaint Kajal” by the police (yes, that’s what passes as humour in Phata Poster).
Despite her busy schedule of saving every damsel in distress and pestering policemen, Kajal manages to have perfectly coiffed hair and afford a wardrobe that could make a starlet very jealous. D’Cruz looks stunning. With her Bambi eyes and an impossible waistline, she is beautiful. Unfortunately, that’s not going to make audiences laugh, which is what a comedy needs to do.
D’Cruz can handle the emotional scenes, which are scarce in the film, but she is almost awkward in the high-octane comic scenes. Maybe that’s why the romance between Kapoor and D’Cruz’s characters is barely explored and is done away with three well-choreographed songs.
While the first half of the film is at least filled with dialogues aimed at making audiences laugh out loud, it seems Santoshi, who wrote the film, forgot that he was writing a comedy when he got to the second half. There are barely any scenes in it that make you chuckle. To make things worse, the chaotic climax is so similar to Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani that you sit through it fairly certain that in the middle of all the running around and everyone beating everyone else up, you’ll catch a glimpse of Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.