David Dhawan’s comedies, the best of them, have been cheerfully low-IQ enterprises, constructed around predictable plot lines involving lookalike protagonists, mistaken identities, cheating husbands, and triangular love stories. When Dhawan was at the top of his game, one or any of these standard ideas would have been enough for him to bang out a film filled with non-stop laughs.

 
But Main Tera Hero, starring the filmmaker’s son Varun, is a series of forced contrivances. The humor feels labored and manufactured, never arising spontaneously from the situations. It’s a shame because you’d think Dhawan Sr would know exactly how to make these tropes work. We have Seenu Prasad (Varun), the resident enfant terrible who falls for campus cutie Sunaina (Ileana D’cruz). But their romance hits a speed bump when Ayesha (Nargis Fakhri), the daughter of a don, takes a shine to our hero.
 
Dipping into his vault of tried and tested formulas, David embellishes this basic premise with an ill-conceived kidnapping subplot, and throws in various characters to thicken the mix: a second suitor for Sunaina’s affections in the form of a hot-headed cop (Arunoday Singh), Ayesha’s dim-witted trigger-happy dad (Anupam Kher), and sundry sidekicks (Saurabh Shukla and Rajpal Yadav, both in good form). The bimbo count is raised by the presence of Evelyn Sharma, surprisingly effective in a small role as the don’s trophy girlfriend.
 
Little of this sadly flies because the dialogue feels stilted, and there’s an overdose of those English puns in Hindi lines. “Jabse main pampers mein thi, mere dad mujhe pamper karte aaye hain,” Nargis says at one point. There are countless references to other films, gratuitous cameos (Shakti Kapoor) that add little value, and an overall feeling of “haven’t-we-seen-enough-of-this-nonsense-already?” that hangs over the film.
 
Expectedly Main Tera Hero is meant as a showcase for the many talents of Dhawan Jr, who can dance, fight and contort his face and body with remarkable flexibility. A scene in which he evades Saurabh Shukla while all along trailing right behind him is vintage Govinda. Meanwhile his lack of inhibitions – both when it comes to losing his shirt repeatedly and performing outlandish gags – is evocative of a younger Salman Khan. Those actors did some of their best comic work with David Dhawan, and Varun too is easily the biggest strength of this film. Nargis Fakhri, cleverly used, inspires a few laughs, but Ileana D’cruz is purely ornamental.
 
There are the odd touches here and there that call to mind David’s sharp wit – explaining why Anupam Kher repeats the last bit of every sentence he utters, Saurabh Shukla says: “Manali ki vaadiyon mein inka janm hua tha” – but the film needed more of such inspired lunacy.
 
I’m going with two out of five for Main Tera Hero. Watch it if you must for its catchy songs, a few good laughs, and a leading man who really tries.

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