The stars of Phata Poster Nikla Hero (A Poster Rips and a Hero Steps Out) were in Dubai last weekend to promote the film, which comes out this week.
The title is, of course, Naseeruddin Shah’s famous catchphrase from the 1988 cult film Hero Hiralal.
“I love the title because it brings back so many memories of the way Naseerji [as Shah is called] used to say it in the film Hero Hiralal. Pretty much like he was ‘filmi’ [star-struck] in that film — a rickshaw driver in real life but a hero in his head — my character in this movie is also very ‘filmi’,” says Kapoor.
Kapoor plays Vishwas Rao, a young boy torn between his childhood dream of growing up to become a Bollywood “hero” and his parents’ wish to see him become a policeman. His co-star D’Cruz plays Kajal, a social worker whose run-in with Kapoor’s character turns things around for both of them. Cheesy lines and comic situations keep the film light-hearted and entertaining.
“The film is a family entertainer,” says Kapoor, explaining that it contains everything that the Bollywood audience is keen on: comedy, romance and adventure. “It’s typical Rajkumar Santoshi style.”
Santoshi, the director, is best-known for his 1994 comedy Andaz Apna Apna starring Salman Khan and Aamir Khan. This is the third time he has collaborated with the producer Ramesh Taurani.
Their first film together was the National Award-winning Legend of Bhagat Singh in 2002, followed by the romantic comedy Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2004). Taurani was responsible for launching Kapoor in 2003 with Ishk Vishk and, despite Kapoor’s last two films having performed questionably at the box office (Mausam in 2011 and Teri Meri Kahaani in 2012), Taurani has gone on record to say that he has faith in Kapoor’s performance and that Phata Poster Nikla Hero will be the biggest film of the actor’s life.
“I am honoured that Ramesh has faith in me,” says Kapoor. “I’ve spent more than a decade in the industry. Though I have done fewer films compared with other actors, I am happy with the choices I’ve made and the way they’ve shaped my career.”
Kapoor, 32, has appeared in 20 films. Though he does not regret the quality of work he has done, he does admit to sometimes wishing he had focused on quantity, too. “It is important for an actor to appear on the screen several times a year. But it is more important for those appearances to consist of quality performances,” he says.
Kapoor has had his ups and downs; his 2003 debut was a hit, followed by a few hit-and-miss films. Vivah in 2006 was a hit and Jab We Met in 2007 was a super-hit. It was 2009’s Kaminey that really established Kapoor as a force to be reckoned with. Since then, however, he has yet to deliver another box office hit. Can Phata Poster Nikla Hero do the trick? “It’s an entertaining film with a great story, brilliant performances by some very good actors and some really nice music,” Kapoor says. “We’ve all worked very hard. Now let’s see what the audience thinks.”
D’Cruz has only one movie to her credit, last year’s super-hit Barfi!, sharing screen space with Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra. Despite starring alongside two of Bollywood’s biggest stars, D’Cruz made her presence felt and received praise from major names in the industry.
She recalls a letter she received from Amitabh Bachchan after he saw her performance in the film. “To get words of appreciation from someone like him is such a honour,” she says. “If people like him have noticed me then I must be doing something right.” She adds that she has worked extremely hard on Phata Poster Nikla Hero and is confident about its chances at the box office.
• Phata Poster Nikla Hero is out in the UAE on Thursday