There is absolutely nothing uncommon about Jai Ho. It is strictly hackneyed fare about a wronged man who goes berserk in his mission to rid his own life – and that of the nation – of a very powerful tormentor.
Never underestimate the power of the common man, SRK had grandly told us and his adversaries in Chennai Express last year.
It is now Salman Khan’s turn to warn the world of the grave perils of needling the common man.
He growls at the film’s halfway point: the aam aadmi is a sleeping tiger; don’t provoke him or else…
Should we say jai ho to that? We might have felt inclined to lend our voices to that cry of jubilation if only the film had a little more to offer by way of common sense.
Jai Ho is a sluggish film with a preponderance of action sequences thrown in at regular intervals.
It also has a painfully pedestrian romantic track (involving a girl whose unmentionables form an integral part of the storyline).
It is lost in a maze of insipidly mounted song-and-dance set pieces.
The aam aadmi is the flavour of the season all right, and one might argue that there is no harm in seeking to derive box office mileage out of it.
But a superstar vehicle that runs on a single wheel – even if that wheel happens to be box office dynamo Salman Khan – cannot go very far.
The other three wheels of Jai Ho – story, screenplay and characters – are terribly wobbly.
The male protagonist of Jai Ho, suspended army officer Major Jai Agnihotri, is a comic-strip superhero that resembles a runaway armoured tank rather than a recognizable human being.
On his part, however, the eponymous hero would have us believe that ‘being human’ is all that counts.
What that translates into is a rather corny goodwill campaign aimed at creating a chain of good deeds.
The ex-major prevents a girl from being abducted by a gang of goons, helps a physically challenged girl write an examination paper and restores a kidnapped child to its mother, among other acts of great valour and kindness.
But he is no ordinary do-gooder. He doesn’t take a mere ‘thank you for a response. He exhorts the grateful beneficiaries of his acts of bravery to keep the spirit going by helping three other people each.
There is no way of knowing why the number is three, and not one, two, five or seven.
That is the least of the film’s problems. There is much else in Jai Ho that does not add up.
But the hero’s logic is otherwise pretty simple: he wants to make the world a better place to live in.
Does that make Jai Ho sound a bit like good ol’ Munnabhai? It is not.
Make no mistake, Major Jai Agnihotri is no Gandhian crusader, and the only method that he is comfortable with is sickeningly violent.
Evil is rife in the form of bad politicians, policemen and goons and hell hath no fury like a Salman Khan scorned.
When he is angry, he raises a storm that can blow away everything that comes in the way – human or otherwise.
He roars into the ear of his quarry and then goes about crunching bones, flinging bodies and drawing blood at will.
The narrative is touchingly simplistic. Amid all the mayhem that is unleashed by the hackneyed good-versus-evil confrontation, humanity is alive and kicking.
The Jai Ho plot has one upright policeman, one well-meaning politician, one henchman who has a change of heart, one auto-rickshaw driver who goes out of his way to be of help, a reformed alcoholic and, of course, an prim and proper elder sister who espouses all the right values.
Unfortunately, with the focus of the script being squarely on Salman, the rest of the actors merely come and go without making any impact.
Jai Ho is a virtual parade of actors whose movie careers are in desperate need of assistance – Ashmit Patel, Yash Tonk, Mohnish Behl, Nauheed Cyrusi, Tulip Joshi, Bruna Abdullah, Sana Khan, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kapoor, Varun Badola, Santosh Shukla and the like.
Each of them gets his or her few flashes of fame in the film. But eventually none of them rises above the din to be seen and heard.
When Salman Khan flexes his muscles and bellows with all his might, nobody stands a chance in hell of standing out.
As for debutante Daisy Shah, she merely withers away under the onslaught.
Jai Ho is a tale that is about as exciting – and just as empty – as the spiel of a politician going to the polls.
Eminently avoidable unless you are a diehard Salman Khan fan.