But what to do! Everyone wants a good laugh. It makes us forget about the troubles outside. Never mind the trouble that humour seems to encounter on screen each time someone makes a comedy.
To his credit, Santoshi deftly delivers the dynamics of drollery. No two ways about it! Unlike last week's lewd laughter in Grand Masti, Phata Poster Nikhla Hero (PPNH) avoids vulgarity like the plague.
Dirty word-plague….sorry, word play is firmly eschewed. What we get is an earthy robust over-accentuated tribute to Salman Khan's Chulbul Pandey act from Dabangg, with Shahid Kapoor stepping into the khaki uniform with the same wonky élan as our dear Chulbul Khan.
Shahid has confessed it is easy playing a Salman Khan fan. The young actor who has so far not revealed his comic chops and has in fact shown dramatic synergy to be his forte, pulls out all stops to play an imposter cop, a role that makes him a Chulbul Pandey twice-over because Salman's cop-act was underlined as a spoof in the first place.
So what we get in PPNH is a khaki-clad clown impersonating a cop who is actually impersonating Salman Khan in Dabangg.
Does that make sense? Even if it doesn't, it's just fine. Don't sweat over it. This is not one of Santoshi's seriously-intended films. For that, please refer to this wonderful director's Lajja or Halla Bol. And if you are looking for hardcore gut-spilling action, go to Santoshi's Deol-driven juggernauts Ghayal and Ghatak.
Coming to think of it, PPNH is not even an all-out zany comedy of errors like Santoshi's Andaz Apna Apna. So what is it? After painful pondering over the over-punctuated parodic material in PPNH, I'd say it's a mongrelized mirth machine. A sort of Dabangg mated with Santoshi's last very successful comedy Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani which evidently taught Santoshi a lesson: farcical frivolity and lengthy titles translate into big bucks.
Phata Poster… gives poster-boy Shahid Kapoor a custom-built opportunity to get seriously comic. He digs deep into the very slim plot, ferreting out meager meat from the skimpy material. I must say, Shahid has a ball doing the droll act for the doll Ileana D'Cruz who abandons her serious saree-clad audacious wife's role in Barfi to play the kind of 'social worker' who brings a bad name to all charity work.
Coming to think of it everyone in this over-the-top comedy (ha ha) seems to be in it for the sake of getting into a massy mode. The art direction is kitschy. The camera wallows in the carnival mood. In the endeavour to enroll enthusiasm into the rom-com the film succeeds. But be warned: the writing is repetitive. The scenes all end in exclamation marks and italics, like an essay by a schoolboy who is out to impress his favourite teacher. The humour jumps out of the screen like an eager 5-year old brat which must get your attention at any cost.
If you think Shahid is one of the more interesting star – actors of the current generation, then PPNH is a frenetically fashioned farce fest with excessive energy oozing out of every saturated pore. Shahid's songs and dances especially the zanily unpredictable Agal-bagal number are the highlight of the humour – hamper. And that's not such a good thing! Shahid gets to share camera space with some accomplished actors like Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari, Darshan Jariwala and Sanjay Mishra. And that's a good thing.
At least we are ensured that the slender pretext for laughter is bolstered by hefty actors.
Oh yes, the real Salman Khan shows up. Devta khud prakat hote hain bhakton ke beech. But God doesn't seem much interested in the going-ons.