Just when you thought Hindi cinema was getting better all the time, behold the revival of the clichés. And on a scale so massive, you can't do anything but sit there suffering quietly, and wonder what else could possibly go hackneyed.
To appreciate a film like Main Hoon Na, it might be necessary to erase the memory of every decent flick you've watched in the past couple of years. Start with Dil Chahta Hai
and work your way down to Munnabhai MBBS
. And even then you'll be amazed at the complete lack of novelty that this film flaunts.
People who've always believed Shah Rukh is the master of recycled performances will have no reason to revise their opinion with this, his latest. And even the rest of us - who have loved him from Fauji to Devdas - will have trouble defending the guy as he goes through the motions, yet another time. Contrary to what we suspect he himself is starting to believe, there is more to the actor than this. Not that Main Hoon Na is the slightest indication.
Shah Rukh plays Major Ram Prasad Sharma, who loses his father - also an Army officer - in a terrorist encounter. But before he dies, the father (Naseeruddin Shah) leaves him with an akhri khwaish
- to find and bring his estranged wife and son together. You see, Ram is actually born of an extra-marital affair, and when he turns up at his dad's doorstep at the age of seven, his father's wife (Kiron Kher) walks out of the marriage with their son.
So to reconcile with his bichda hua bhai
, Lakshman, and the mother he never had, Ram visits Darjeeling, but he's there under cover. Apart from resolving domestic crises, he also has a task of national importance to perform. He has to protect the life of the Army Commander's daughter, Sanjana (Amrita Watch-Me-Be-Annoying Rao), who is under threat from a bitter one-time Army officer Raghavan (Suniel Shetty reunited with his wig).
The only way Ram can be close to both brother Lakshman (Zayed Still-Can't-Act Khan) and the boss' daughter is by playing a fellow college student. So he turns up on campus looking every bit the fossil he is. Of course, anybody would feel like a fossil amid such rabid fashion-consciousness.
This college is remarkable, not just for its rampant use of leather pants and bandanas, but also for its almost-stoned detachment from reality. Even for Bollywood, this is quite an achievement. Girls and boys skipping along corridors; either playing endless games of Truth or Dare or lurking in the corners just waiting to spring into dance.
And the teachers are equally bad: Satish Shah is a professor with great oratory skills, especially if you need to put out a fire. Boman Irani as the absent-minded principal doesn't really get a chance. Bindu is also wasted in a role which has her knitting sweaters and speaking broken English. And Sushmita Sen as the chiffon-clad chemistry teacher slithers sexily and unabashedly all over her desk, and is a tired formula if we ever saw one.
So there he is, Ram the nerd, who arrives on the scene and teaches them all to love and sing and be happy, all the while also saving their hides from Matrix-y gunshots. Thanks to Raghavan, a Paki-hating fanatic, everybody is on the hit-list, but nobody actually dies. Raghavan's problem in life is the Army Commander's (Kabir Bedi) patriotic Mission Milaap, which will release Pakistani prisoners of war as a gesture of peace.
When Raghavan is unable to get at Sanjana, he changes tactics and joins the college as a professor. And on prom night, he takes as his hostage the entire population of the college, including the principal and faculty. The action sequences are not half bad and finally, thanks to the heroic efforts of the, um, hero, everything works out like you expected, except the climax (which is actually kinda cool).
Main Hoon Na takes off in about 40 directions at once, but having 'something for everyone' in a country of one billion just results in a fantastically convoluted plot. But we've never cared about a plot with Hindi movies, and we're not going to start now. What ultimately sucks is that MHN promises you a fun ride, and while die-hard SRK fans might lap it up, the rest of us are going to just pretend this never happened.