Main Tera Hero (I'm Your Hero): Film Review

Eros International
David Dhawan’s leaden farce will appeal only to the most hardcore fans of Bollywood slapstick.

Varun Dhawan dances his way into a love triangle in an old-fashioned musical comedy.

Most Bollywood comedies are not made with critics in mind. The genre, though, can occasionally offer pleasant surprises, as the success of the Golmaal series, Singh Is Kinng and Chennai Express has proven. Know that Main Tera Hero (I’m Your Hero) is not among them.

Loud, long and largely unfunny except for a few clever turns of phrase, Main Tera Hero boasts catchy songs, but is not destined to make box office history.

With earlier films such as Hero No. 1, Coolie No. 1 and Partner, jocular director David Dhawan cemented his spot as king of the fast-paced, absurd and crowd-pleasing comedy. He helped make stars like Govinda (with whom he’s made 17 films), Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt into solid comedy brands.

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Here, for the first time, he directs his son Varun Dhawan, who made a confident debut in the otherwise avoidable 2012 film Student of the Year.

With a few choice hip thrusts, a wink and a knack for snappy repartee, the impish Dhawan is clearly being groomed as a comic hero in the Govinda mold -- not a bad thing, though he’s missing that former superstar’s naughty spark. Dhawan’s got passable dance moves, too, though he’ll never capture Govinda’s unique blend of doughy vulnerability and sparkling charisma, or the older star’s gift for making dance moves look like he just dreamed them up.

Dhawan plays Seenu, a 25-year-old college sophomore who launches an epic feud with a muscular local psychopath (Arunoday Singh) over the love of a winsome co-ed, Sunaina (Barfi! star Ileana D’Cruz, far too classy for this joint). Seenu finds his way to Bangkok, where, for the flimsiest of script reasons but more likely because of Thailand’s generous shooting incentives for Indian filmmakers, he ends up in the mansion of a transplanted Indian crime lord (Anupam Kher) who wants him to marry his daughter, the slightly crazed Ayesha (Nargis Fakhri). The perpetually pouting Fakhri, born in the United States and clearly struggling with Hindi, has not improved since her awkward debut in Imtiaz Ali’s 2011 Rockstar. Nevertheless, the model-turned-actress has reportedly signed on for Paul Feig’s next comedy.

Slapstick maestro David Dhawan’s filmmaking style -- a mad mix-up of primary colors, female characters as virtual chess pieces and scenes with the actors spread out in a line, as if they were on stage -- has become quaintly old-fashioned.

Audiences now enjoy a little bit more realism and rough edges in their comedies, so with any luck this dated style is on the way out. It’s 2014, and maybe it’s time to retire the banana peels and slide whistles.

Opened: April 4, 2014 (Eros International)

Production company: Balaji Entertainment

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Ileana D’Cruz, Nargis Fakhri, Arunoday Singh, Anupam Kher, Rajpal Yadav, Evelyn Sharma

Director: David Dhawan

Screenwriter: Tushar Hirandani

Producers: Alpana Misra

Executive producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor

Director of photography: Sanjay Gupta

Production designer: Sukant Panigrahy

Costume designer: Kunal Rawal

Choreographers: Ganesh Acharya, Bosco-Caesar

Music: Sajid-Wajid

Editor: Nitin Madhukar Rokade

Unrated, 128 minutes