Hero (2021)

Hero was written and directed by M.Bharath Raj and filmed during the pandemic lockdown in India with a total cast and crew of reportedly only 24 people. It’s pretty amazing that they managed to pull everything together with such a small crew and despite a rather scrappy and overly violent screenplay, Hero is a quirky comedy that mostly works well. The standout performance comes from Ganavi Laxman in her first film role, but Rishab Shetty is also very watchable and Anirudh Mahesh is excellent in his comedic role.

None of the characters in the film have any names but instead are referred to simply as the hero (Rishab Shetty), heroine (Ganavi Laxman) and villain (Pramod Shetty). They are all broad caricatures who mostly behave as expected although there is the odd twist or two which tend to provide much of the comedy. The hero is a barber who was devastated when his girlfriend (the heroine) dumped him. In response he turned to alcohol and with his continual state of intoxication and depression affecting his work, the hero decides he has to kill the heroine to be free of her once and for all. Luckily for the hero, his boss is heading out of town, and as a result despatches his drunken employee to the local villain’s house to give him a haircut. It just so happens that the villain is married to the heroine, and ther hero takes this as his chance to get his revenge. But when he arrives at the house, the situation is not as he thinks, and he quickly gets tangled up in the heroine’s problems.

The villain is introduced as a larger than life vindictive and viciously evil man. He delights in torture and laughs as his henchmen beat a couple of thugs they have intercepted trying to gain access to his mansion. One of the thugs is killed, while a key group of henchmen head off into the countryside with the final thug to find his boss, thought to be the son of key arch-rival of the villain, Tiger Ponnappa. Meanwhile a doctor (Anirudh Mahesh) arrives at the mansion and is shocked to discover that his patient is not quite as expected. When the hero arrives at the mansion, he finds the doctor desperately trying to fulfill the demands of the villain, his henchmen roaming around and generally menacing the doctor and the hero, and his ex-girlfriend desperately trying to conceal her actions from earlier in the day. Throughout all of this, the villa’s cook (Kiran Kinna) keeps making biryani for the various thugs and rowdies and generally manages to avoid the mayhem.

What make the film work is the eccentricities of each of the characters and the way that they stay true to themselves throughout the rambling story. The villain is evil through and through and his mean and petty nature is taken up by the various thugs in his employ. Each of the henchmen too have some kind of quirk that makes them distinctive and most of these are played for laughs as they try and chase down the hero and the heroine towards the end. Anirudh Mahesh as the doctor is probably the best at maintaining his character as a terrified but strangely determined man who manages to conquer his fear when offered some food, but each of the characters has a specific role to play in the story and a reason to be there.

Some of the comedy works very well, such as the thugs throwing bombs randomly into the jungle as they hunt the escaping hero and heroine. The heroine’s unfailing competence in the face of the hero’s bumbling and general incompetence is also really well done and Ganavi Laxman is simply excellent at making even the simplest facial expression very funny indeed. She has some of the best lines and truly is the real ‘hero’ of the story. Meanwhile, Rishab Shetty is also very funny but the excessive amounts of violence in the story tend to make some parts of his performance rather darker than perhaps were intended, and in the end his final scenes with alcohol are pitiful rather than in any way amusing. However, he still is excellent in the role and works well with Ganavi Laxman to deliver some very funny comedy, especially in the first half. Pramod Shetty is so over the top villainous and such a caricature that even his excessive violence towards a butterfly seems in character – thankfully there is a disclaimer at the start that no animals were harmed! 

Hero is basically a love story where the hero and heroine try to escape from an isolated villa while being chased by a band of bloodthirsty thugs. The first half has plenty of laughs but the film does start to drag in the second half when the chase sequences are overly long and the jokes start to become repetitive. Still, for a film written, filmed, and completed in the middle of a pandemic it’s not bad and I do think it’s hilarious that the crocodile roars. 3 stars.

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