Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jaideep Ahlawat, Jitender Hooda, Sumit Singh, Gautam Joglekar and ensemble
Direction: Anirudh Iyer
Anirudh Iyer's 'An Action Hero' might not have broken box office records, but its Netflix run is undoubtedly a perfect lounge companion over a hot cuppa. The movie has all the ingredients for a Bollywood hit, albeit stitched unpredictably too well, with patterned randomness. The chaos and unpredictability of the film keep you hooked to it until the very end.
Maanav (Khurrana), a Bollywood hero, accidentally kills the brother of a local politician in Haryana, Bhoora (Ahlawat). He flees to London, only to be chased by Bhoora for revenge, who's on a killing spree. London Police, computer hackers, and several criminal and underworld elements get into the mix, including a brilliant recreation of Dawood Ibrahim's character, the gangster Masood Katkar (Joglekar). A survivor at any cost, Maanav turns into a real-life hero with questionable moral traits.
Intelligent screenplay, thrilling action sequences accentuated by complementing background score, and taut storytelling with plot twists in every turn make for an immersive watch.
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Some particular satirical elements are worth mentioning in the film without giving away too many spoilers. In the film's first sequence, Maanav needed to get angry expressions for his role but couldn't get angry, so everyone around him was concerned! This reminded me of typical Bollywood tantrums, which have no bearing on 'method-acting'.
If the name Maanav hasn't reminded you of being human, a Bollywood hero's infamous road craze incident, followed by a hit-and-run in 2002, certainly will. Khurrana portrayed those rich-boy whims, starry tantrums and narcissistic traits with understated ease. Later, Maanav justifies his fleeing to London, of all places in the world, plainly citing Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya's example came like a strong punch in the system's belly.
While Khurrana and Ahlawat's chemistry was brewing, and their action sequences and acting kept us gripped, something else was gaining momentum in the background. Indian media, particularly the TV anchors, were going ballistic, trying to portray Maanav as a 'villain' and brainwash the public in their habitual ways.
Mimicry of some self-proclaimed and famous (or infamous!) television News anchors was portrayed with uncanny resemblances. One particular 'News screamer' whose shoulders and lungs have taken full responsibility of the 'whole nation' breaks into "Mujhe drugs do! Mujhe drugs do! Mujhe drugs do!" He also screams, “Kahan hai humaara action hero?” This is one of the few moments in the film when you might get down on the floor laughing out loud.
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Otherwise, this film doesn't impose itself as a comedy. It just keeps amusing subtly and smartly, with clever, very clever storytelling and minimal narration technique. What 'An Action Hero' compels you to do is take an altered perspective when the movie reveals its true motives towards the end. Without spilling any more beans, I'll let you watch and ponder who is the real target of this satirical film – the Bollywood actors, media, mafia or the audience!