In 1983, Subhash Ghai turned Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri, then a pair of relative newcomers, into bonafide stars with Hero. Fashioned as a love story between the daughter of a powerful police officer and thegoonda assigned to kidnap her, the film followed a familiar narrative involving a generational clash, parental disapproval, and rebellion, while packing in some killer tracks by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Nikhil Advani’s remake of Ghai’s film, also titled Hero, stays faithful to the original blueprint…but faithful to a fault. Intended as a launch pad to showcase the potential of star-sprogs Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, the new film is so steeped in 1980s naiveté and old-fashioned melodrama that it fast becomes a slog.
Sooraj (Pancholi) and Radha (Shetty) quickly fall in love after he whisks her away to a snow-bound cottage in Jammu, pretending to be a cop dispatched by her father to keep her safe. I know what you’re thinking…but yes…despite living with a police officer father and brother, she still doesn’t smell anything fishy about the situation. When the truth finally comes out – that he kidnapped her on the instructions of a criminal seeking leverage with her dad – Radha, now deeply invested in the romance, insists that Sooraj wipe the slate clean and start a respectable new life with her.
Plot contrivances aside, Hero doesn’t bother with even such basic niceties as a coherent screenplay and continuity. The sloppy editing results in gaping holes of information and logic, and the clunky dialogues are a throwback to the not-so-good-old-days of yore. Tigmanshu Dhulia glowers and bellows as Radha’s dad, Aditya Pancholi is strictly one-note as Sooraj’s criminal foster-father Pasha, and a last-minute twist involving Vivan Bhatena as a potential suitor for Radha will make you groan.
A pair of newcomers making their debut in the year 2015 deserve better than this outdated drivel, but Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty try to make the most of the situation. Given that he’s Salman Khan’s protégé, it’s no surprise that Sooraj, who we’re first introduced to in an impressive training montage, knows his way around action, and looks good without his shirt…which happens often in this film. Athiya, required to be shrill and bimbo-like in the film’s initial scenes, appears confident and natural, even if a little raw. There’s clearly potential in the pair to do bigger, better things. In one of the film’s few genuinely moving moments, they display an aching vulnerability while simply looking at each other from afar, their eyes brimming with tears, no words uttered. Herojust about scratches the surface.
This is lazy, indifferent filmmaking, and a colossal bore for most of its running time. A video featuring Salman Khan singing the terrific title track at the end is too little too late. I’m going with two out of five.