20 Years Of Hera Pheri: Priyadarshan's classic comedy is more than just a comedy!
The legacy of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, and Paresh Rawal's classic comedy, Hera Pheri lies in its humour, but it's actually more than just a comedy!
Hera Pheri came out at a time when Akshay Kumar was yet to become a comic actor, Paresh Rawal was playing a chilling antagonist in almost all films, and Suniel Shetty flexed his pectorals and biceps in hardcore actioners. Even Priyadarshan, the man who made this film, gave us dramas like Gardish and Virasat before migrating to comedy. There was no hype for this film, Hrithik Roshan was ruling the roost with his iconic debut. It had nothing but word of mouth to rely on!
I remember watching Hera Pheri as a 7-year old in the packed Premprakash cinema in Jaipur with my relatives and parents. The laughs began very early on, and with the introduction of the character of Baburao Ganpatrao Apte, fondly called Babu Bhaiyaa, the hysteria refused to subsidise. Written by Neeraj Vora, the lines were sharp and so was the timing of the trio. It was one of those rare remakes that delivered equal laughs and entertainment as the original, Ramji Rao Speaking.
The filmmaker and all the actors involved wanted to tell everyone there's a lot more to them that their celluloid perception, and as stated above, Kumar, Shetty, and Rawal could also tickle the funny bones and not just break them on the big screen. But it's impossible to imagine Hera Pheri as a comedy if one were to hear a thin line of the story. Three desperate and desolate men battle poverty, fat loans, and unemployment. One is an alcoholic garage owner with the sword of a fat debt, the other is an unemployed man in a dire need of a job, and the third lies to his mother of being a successful businessman in Kolkatta. Each one of them dreams to be rich but is reminded of the brutal realities of life every day.
To squeeze humour into a tale of such desperation requires smart writing and compelling performances, as mentioned above. And Hera Pheri was filled with such exciting and entertaining bits. The gags never felt like gags but thunderously staged scenes fantastically infused into the narrative. The dialogues became memorable and the social media sensation never allowed the legacy of this comedy to die. In reality, one cannot even remotely imagine such a scenario to yield comical results. How is it possible for an alcoholic man who has a big fat debt to pay be so funny? How can a kidnapping case turn madcap and maddening? And how can a man who's sister is about get married and who's struggling for money turn out to be such a farcical character? That's perhaps the magic of this cult classic.
Six years later, Neeraj Vora took the director's seat to continue the story of Raju, Shyam, and Baburao in Phir Hera Pheri. This time, the writing may have turned from smart to slapstick, but it couldn't stop eliciting uproarious laughter from the audiences. The sequel enjoys a nice shelf-life too and equal amount of memes on Twitter and Instagram. A lot has been spoken about Hera Pheri 3 for years but the fate of the third film in the franchise continues to hang in the balance. A lot of names have come out but it's impossible to imagine anyone else but Kumar, Shetty, and Rawal as the three central characters. Because history may repeat itself, it cannot be changed!
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