These days when Dhanno summons us to spend some time with her, we go, even if it means driving back from Bandra after 3 hours with the CA and dreadful tax penalties, to Goregaon, and then back to Andheri for a night show at Prithvi. Driving for Teja, that is. I doze, as usual, while he fumes.

Dhanno lives with us, in her orange room, but we see each other only in glimpses across a dinner plate, or when she comes in the door back home, or when we come back home, and she is still sitting up, at her drafting table. There is a lot to be said about the architecture course and syllabus, but we won’t get into that here.

We suggested coffee, and Dhanno reminded me sternly of the film she had seen in college, and how she had told me that coffee was never to be had. None of us were in shopping mode. I went to the ticket counter and asked for the rates. “230”, I was told. But we were together, and so 230 it was. We ambled into watch ‘Phata Poster Nikhla Hero‘. Teja grumbled a little, “Shahid Kapoor, no!” but does he have a choice, or a vote?

I said, “I like Shahid, there is something vulnerable about him.” Dhanno said, “That’s right.” I said, “But he tries too hard.”

Dhanno is like that too, trying too hard. And that does not always translate into the best performance.

But in ‘Phata Poster Nikhla Hero’, Shahid is at the best he has ever been, he still does too much eye-twinkling, and he retains his vulnerability, but there is an ease which comes when you realize what your weaknesses are, which is where he seems to be at, here. There were moments when he reminded me of Govinda in ‘Coolie No.1‘ moving effortlessly from one enactment to another, mimicking older stars, hamming it up as an actor, doing idiotic dance steps.

There were some truly hilarious moments, with Sanjay Mishra and friends at the railway station, with Salman Khan in a guest appearance, and Teja watched Dhanno and me giggling and giggling, with a satisfied smile on his face.

Padmini Kolhapure plays a rather tedious mother quite sweetly, though her rickshaw-wala cap would have been better chucked off. None of us were crazy about Ilena D’Cruz. She is pretty, but I find that most actresses get caught out when they are trying to do bubbly, chirpy roles, even if they have been quite convincing in sad, dramatic ones.

There is a terrible bit of comedy with a detonator going to set off bio-chemical blasts all over the city, the detonator comes packed in a suitcase, and then metamorphoses into a big console, and there is a red button and a blue button, a funny explanation about liquids turning into gases, and a slapstick comic fight over pressing one button and then the other. It was awful, in bad taste, but  then it went on for so long, it did became satirical.

The plotting is tired, specially the second half, and Rajkumar Santoshi uses many elements that he has used over and over again, buffoonish gangs, even more buffoonish cops,  a certain kind of song-and-dance routine with far too many songs.

I insisted that ‘Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hain’ was a lot like ‘Prem Ki Naiyya’ in ‘Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani’, and I even insisted on singing, and Dhanno, as usual, shut her ears, and made faces, and reminded me that I know nothing about music, and it’s a wonder that I even remembered the name of the older movie.

‘Phata Poster Nikhla Hero’ could have been more than it is, with a little more effort put into the script. But sometimes films are only about being together, eating popcorn, laughing at stupid things.