THE RIDICULOUS AND THE SUBPAR
Exceptions like Voot’s Bad Man—a parody of Bollywood’s stock villains—notwithstanding, the Hindi film industry has a low threshold for humour at its own expense. Rohan Sippy’s Side Hero marks another attempt, and like most of the other efforts, it’s only partially successful. The source of parody in Eros Now’s first original is Kunal Roy Kapur’s subpar film career as a perennial sidekick.
Roy Kapur, best known for Delhi Belly and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, bravely takes all the insults, but it’s not enough to hide the fact that this satire on a struggling actor’s misadventures is low on laughs. In the first episode, a wardrobe malfunction gets Kunal fired. Then he’s evicted from his apartment and forced to move into a hostel full of failed actors. Making matters worse is that he has a clueless manager, Beera (Gopal Datt), to revive his career and his personal life is in doldrums with his estranged wife Sarika (Gauhar Khan) romancing a young, fit and dapper man.
Through the eight episodes, Sippy and his co-writers offer some insight into the film industry and the many issues that afflict it: obsession with image, fear of failure, insecurity and pompousness of its practitioners, the woes of social media. Many of the incidents that are meant to be ridiculous, such as when Kunal hires a bodyguard, come off as unbelievable and unfunny. A few attempts at being nonsensical though do pay off such as the episode, ‘Death Star’, which sees Kunal pretend to be the best friend of the deceased at a funeral. There’s a steady flow of cameos with Tillotama Shome and Konkana Sensharma cracking it in episode one. But the best deployment comes with Aditya Roy Kapur (Kunal’s younger brother) who turns up late for a spa opening only to see his job as the celebrity taken over by his brother. The show’s emotional undertones in the latter half are predictable and jarring. But there’s no faulting Roy Kapur’s role as an actor who wears haplessness on his face with the conviction of a superstar.