Posters and Prints for Sale
I wasn't sure how to go about writing a review for a Bollywood film. Compared to mainstream American films, Bollywood films tend to not look as good. The visuals aren't as polished, the actors aren't as good, the directing isn't as good. Everything has a low budget feel to it. So if you tend to go see a lot of American films, you'll feel as if you've stepped back in time where special effects make things look cheesy and fake. However, if you tend to watch a lot of Bollywood films, then chances are you'll feel The Hero was a step up.
As with most Bollywood films, The Hero involved a love story. It seems that in almost every Bollywood film I've seen, the guy and the girl meet in the beginning, fall in love, then something happens to keep them apart until the very end. Either the guy humiliates his family and is sent away or the girl is promised to another guy or there is a case of mistaken identity or, as in The Hero, someone tries to blow up their wedding day and each person thinks the other one is dead. When a movie is over 3 hours long, you've got a lot of time to fill, so between the blown up wedding and the ending, there is a lot of stuff that happens; a.k.a. 'the plot'. The plot of The Hero is sure to upset Pakistanis, as they are cast as war loving creatures who only want to kill. Indians are the 'good guys' in this battle. The bad guys want to get a nuclear weapon so they can take Kashmir back from the Indians. The Hero himself is an undercover spy who puts on various disguises over the course of a couple of years to try and take down the bad guys from the inside. With Rambo-esque techniques he manages time and time again to kill multiple bad guys all by himself and in the end saves the country from a nuclear disaster.
As I said, Pakistanis are not going to like how they're portrayed in the film. It isn't an anti-Muslim film however, as they continually point that out, especially in the climactic train sequence where they go through a very pointed statement about how real Muslims know what the term 'jihad' means and that these guys are polluting the word for their own use. That being said, Pakistanis still come off looking real, real bad.
The acting was so-so for a Bollywood film. Preity Zinta was adorable as always and kept my attention while she was on screen. Sunny Deol was pretty good but seemed a bit old for the type of action he was carrying off. And the fact that he was supposed to be real old and Preity was supposed to be school-girl age made their relationship a little creepy. The Indian actors were fine, it was the white actors that looked and sounded horrible. Whether the producers were trying to save money by using non-actors or what, I'm not sure, but every white actor sounded like cardboard.
The special effects were kind of sad, save for the big wedding explosion, which I have to admit was pretty cool looking. There was one shot in particular that had Sunny Deol flying off a snowmobile, through the front of an oncoming train that made me laugh out loud with how terrible it looked. By American film standards, it looked 20 years old, but by Bollywood standards, maybe it looked modern.
I haven't seen a ton of Bollywood films; maybe a dozen or so in the past year. I'd have to say Lagaan was my favorite with Dil Chata Hai coming in a close second. Lagaan was different that most Bollywood films just with the story and the style. Taking that one out of the loop, if you compare the other movies I saw, the thing that sets the good ones apart is the music. Dil Chata Hai had the best overall soundtrack, while a movie like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham had two of the best songs I've heard. If a movie leaves you humming a song when it's done, then to me, that helps make a movie memorable to me. The Hero didn't really have that. The songs weren't striking; they were just run-of-the-mill. I'll admit I'm not a big fan of Indian music, but the more up tempo, modern dance music I enjoy, like the title track to Dum for instance. The Hero didn't have anything that really stood out.
THE BOTTOM LINE
And I suppose that's the bottom line about The Hero. It was long, it had the usual Bollywood story, it had your typical Bollywood stars, but in the end, it didn't have anything (other than the big wedding explosion) that made it stand out above any of the other thousands of films that come out of India every year.
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