An influential action star, Maanav (Ayushmann Khurrana) finds his fame turning into infamy, when a scuffle with a disgruntled fan leads to the fan’s death. The star goes on the run immediately and thinks of ways to prove his innocence. However, everything goes for a toss when he’s confronted by the fan’s brother, Bhoora (Jaideep Ahlawat), who’s itching for some good old-fashioned revenge. As the situation spirals out of control, Maanav must find a way to stay alive and outwit everyone on his tail before they get their hands on him.
A fun cross-country adventure
When we watched the trailer of ‘An Action Hero’, we thought it was pretty cut-and-dry. A popular star makes a terrible mistake and finds himself being hunted by the brother of his unwitting victim. ‘An Action Hero‘ does everything it can in the first half to fool you into believing that the film is a classic action film. With car chases, hand-to-hand combat scenes and shootouts packed to the gills, you’ll buy what writer-director Anirudh Iyer is selling too.
It’s only in the second half, however, will you realise that Khurrana’s latest undertaking is actually an absurd take on the action genre. Maanav is more of a survivor, whose Bollywood-bred narcissism refuses to let him go down easy. He’s an anti-hero in every sense, living through the most dangerous situations out of sheer spite and self-preservation. Bhoora, who is initially touted as a righteous avenger, is also a subversion of the archetype. His seemingly iron-clad will has more chinks than one would assume, given his motivations.
‘An Action Hero’ also takes potshots at the spectacle-greedy media, the current state of affairs, the fickle nature of the public. All this makes it a funny, witty and surprisingly self-aware film.
The genius of the film also lies in the little details. The trailer leads you to believe that the film belongs to the category of slick, pacy action movies. Instead, the movie takes a cheeky dig at the hard-core action movie. Bhoora and Maanav fight with all the clumsiness and exhaustion of real men. In other words, don’t expect ‘Mission Impossible’. ‘An Action Hero’ is also high on situational comedy. All punchlines, one-liners and jokes are hilarious because Iyer exploits each tense moment’s potential for amusement.
The script does lag, we won’t lie. In the effort of drawing its audience in, ‘An Action Hero’ risks losing them as well. But the road smoothens once Bhoora touches down in the UK, kurta-clad and ready to draw Maanav out from his foreign hideout.
A cool cast
This film is a wild ride thanks to Khurrana and Ahlawat’s explosive chemistry. The moments when the two clash have quintessential Bollywood masala. The ‘Anek’ star does take his time to ease into his role; he seems wooden in the beginning and once Ahlawat’s part-politician, part-wrestler persona enters the fray, he has to work twice as hard to stand out. But stand out, he does. And he puts his co-star through the paces once he warms up.
Ahlawat is the real winner, though. He’s so funny, so sharp and so smooth. Every second he spends on screen is memorable, jam-packed with wry quips and seasoned with perfect physical comedy. His subversion of the angry not-so-young man is real from start to finish.
Also! All the kudos go to Malaika Arora, who steals the scene in a span of two seconds. It’s amazing how she does it too. There’s a wedding, she’s dancing, she’s given the camera the signature Malaika twirl-and-smile. But her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exchange with Khurrana will make you laugh out loud. Arora pokes fun at how dance numbers are shoehorned into Bollywood films. Akshay Kumar has a great cameo as well. He’s in on the whole joke and enjoying himself.
WATCH OR NOT
Need we say more? Humare taraf se haan hai.
Director: Anirudh Iyer
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jaideep Ahlawat