Anirudh Iyer’s directorial debut features Ayushmann Khurrana as an arrogant superstar named Maanav, whom you’d love to hate. He lives in his own world, is prone to throw tantrums and doesn’t care for the feelings of others. And since he’s got tons of money, he knows he can buy off anything, even a murder charge. His world comes crashing down when he accidentally kills the younger brother of gangster turned politician Bhoora Solanki (Jaideep Ahlawat). Bhoora is more arrogant than Maanav, is more ruthless and doesn’t mind actually killing everyone who gets in his way. Maanav escapes to London thinking that he’d be safe there but Bhoora lands up there and starts a killing spree. Now, Maanav has to become an action hero in real life in order to save his life.
The film is cleverly written. It serves us twists and turns admiringly well. The insider jokes are a hoot. The arrogance of a superstar is on point. So is his attempt at being a method actor in an action film. He gives take after take to get the look right, and the directors and others play along, as who’d antagonise an action star. He’s an ego monster used to having people around him bowing down to his needs and gets a rude shock when real bullets start flying. He knows he can’t bribe his way out of trouble in a foreign country. Media and its hunger for TRPs is hugely made fun of in the film. The antics of several popular news anchors are mimicked and a montage of anchors and reporters going crazy by the day as hunt for Maanav goes on keeps you in splits. The film industry is a fickle place and it’s shown how those fawning around him abruptly cut ties when Maanav is portrayed as a villain by the media. The industry’s links with the underworld are also touched upon as well.
Juxtaposed to the physical comedy and the satire is the ego tussle between Maanav and Bhoora. The latter can’t understand how his wrestler brother could be killed by a mere actor and he wants to exact his revenge by physically tearing the actor from limb to limb. This obsession throws them both in impossible situations and sometimes they have to unwittingly team up to get out of them. Like a proper Guy Ritchie film, the film introduces us to one colourful character after another to keep our interest piqued. The improbable situations, eccentric characters and smart, witty dialogue turn this film into a hell of a ride.
The film is shot stylistically by Kaushal Shah and editor Nirad Khanolkar has kept it fast paced. The action sequences have been filmed imaginatively as well.
Both Jaideep Ahlawat and Ayushmann Khurrana play characters who are prime examples of toxic masculinity. Both are so convinced about their world view that it takes literal hard knocks to see what’s right. The difference between them is that while Maanav learns from his mistakes and moves on, Bhoora refuses to do so. Both actors have done ample justice to their characters. While Jaideep has done similar roles before, he makes sure he brings something fresh to the film. It would have been harder for Ayushmann to play a character so out of his range so far. He has taken pains to physically transform himself for the role and gets the body language spot on. He grows into the role with every frame and by the end of the film convinces you that he’d look good doing action roles in the future.
Kudos to Anirudh Iyer for making a witty and clever film, keeping a healthy mix of satire, action and comedy to keep one entertained throughout. Cinematic liberties have been taken for sure and the treatment is definitely over the top. But as long as one keeps smiling, who’s complaining.
Trailer : An Action Hero
Archika Khurana, December 2, 2022, 3:42 AM IST
An Action Hero Story: Maanav (Ayushmann Khurrana), a Bollywood megastar action hero and popular youth icon, falls from grace when he is caught up in a dramatic real-life incident that forces him to run for his life.
An Action Hero Review: Anirudh Iyer’s directorial debut delves into celebrity culture and the fickle side of fame. Most famous personalities are vulnerable to public backlash and media trials, and this works as the central theme of this 132-minute action-packed drama. On the face of it, ‘An Action Hero’ is a simple revenge story, but the screenplay transforms it into a twisted tale of a superstar, who finds himself in an extraordinary situation. It is a juicy plot, and Iyer, who has co-written the film with Neeraj Yadav, maintains a steady grip on the narrative for the most part.
The film features Ayushmann Khurrana in a never-before-seen avatar. In contrast to his previous socially-relevant dramas, here, he plays Maanav, a buffed-up Bollywood action hero who wears his stardom on his sleeve. Soon, Maanav loses track of reality, especially when the antagonist, Bhoora Solanki (Jaideep Ahlawat), the Municipal Councillor of Mandothi village (Haryana), blames the star for his brother’s mysterious death. As a result, they indulge in a cat-and-mouse game. Will the on-screen action hero be able to hold his own when hardcore action unfolds in his real life?
Iyer takes a bit long in setting up the plot, most of the first half is spent on that. However, the second half picks pace and becomes an all-out action film with several elements to keep you hooked. The problem is, the random characters introduced throughout the film who don’t add up much to the drama but to the length of the film.
It’s Ayushmann Khurrana and Jaideep Ahlawat show all the way, as they hold the film’s narrative together. Ayushmann gets ample scope to live his Maanav’s multi-layered character, who is a strong, arrogant and flamboyant personality as an actor, yet, vulnerable when fate makes him live like an ordinary man running to save his life. He gives it his all to make Maanav’s persona appealing. The actor’s physical transformation for the film is evident and lends credibility to his action-hero avatar. Jaideep’s performance and his Haryanvi accent are bang-on. His character lacks depth, but he throws in some of the funniest seeti-maar punches in the film. There’s a degree of uncertainty in his actions that comes from the goodness in his character, which adds to the hilarity of the scenes. There is a decent blend of comedy and action and some laugh-out-loud dialogues that stand out.
Nora Fatehi and Malaika Arora’s dance numbers to reprised versions of ‘Jehda Nasha‘ and ‘Aap Jaisa Koi,’ respectively, bring in the dose of oomph factor. The background score complements the ongoing drama and establishes the tone of the film.
Not everything in the plot adds up and you wish the film was tighter, but it does have a fair dose of action and comedy backed with good performances. The interesting thing about ‘An Action Hero’ is not so much the story itself, but seeing Ayushmann Khurrana get into the skin of an action hero and flex his muscles (literally) on screen. For that, maybe, you can make a trip to the theatres.