Neither the poster nor the hero is worth a fraction of a farthing. Both are so spectacularly bad that it would be best to give them a wide berth.
Phata Poster Nikhla Hero is the kind of dim-witted comedy that might leave the hardiest of Bollywood junkies in tears.
The agony of being subjected to this tattered bag of stale tricks can indeed be excruciating, when it is not outright numbing.
A village boy aspires to be a movie star. But his doting mother wants him to join the police force and work for the weak and defenceless. So the guy heads to Mumbai and slips into the guise of a crime-buster although acting is the only thing he has on his mind.
The hero quickly runs into all sorts of trouble and so does the film. The gags lack punch and the situations border on the imbecile.
The weak screenplay, hanging from a feeble make-believe thread, is as utterly unconvincing as the fake cop that it revolves around.
This young man has no qualms about taking on the hoodlums in town but is mindful of the need to save his mug from injury. My face, he says, is my fortune. If only he had a brain to boot.
Phata Poster Nikhla Hero strives very hard to be funny, but director Raj Kumar Santoshi's script is so hugely lame that this scrappy comedy of errors takes next to no time to turn into a tiresome tragedy of terrors.
Phata Poster Nikhla Hero opens in what looks like a cross between a hamlet and mofussil town, where a woman named Savitri (Padmini Kolhapure) drives an auto-rickshaw for a living.
Her only son, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor), a fanatical admirer of Salman Khan, wants to follow in his idol's footsteps.
But when he lands in Mumbai for a recruitment test, he is mistaken for an intrepid police officer by an over-zealous social worker, Kaajal (Ileana D'Cruz).
Vishwas, with the help of a bunch of fellow movie industry strugglers led by a small-time scriptwriter Jogi Bhai (Sanjay Mishra), plays along so as not to disappoint his mom.
In the bargain, he antagonizes a criminal Gundappa Das (Saurabh Shukla) and a crooked cop Ghorpade (Zakir Hussain).
The rigmarole gets even more bizarre when Vishwas' mother decides to visit him and the Joint Commissioner of Police Khare (Darshan Jariwala) moves into the ground floor of the two-storey building that the hero resides in.
If all this is meant to be amusing, the joke is always on film and the characters that people its narrative world.
Andaz Apna Apna is history. Phata Poster Nikhla Hero is not even Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.
Santoshi, clearly not in his elements, leaves no stone unturned to reduce an array of capable character actors into insufferable hams who rave and rant their way through this mindless melee in order to be heard above the din.
Saddled with a poorly written role, Shahid Kapoor can only struggle to make an impression. The effort is completely wasted.
Ileana D'Cruz is infinitely worse off. Playing a crusader who believes in keeping the police on their toes but seems to have no idea what she is driving at, she is compelled to sleepwalk through her role.
It is difficult to fathom why Padmini Kolhapure would have agreed to come out of semi-retirement to play the mother in a plot designed to smother any possibilities that the sketchy character might have had.
Stay away from this film if you value your time and money. And if you still insist on giving it a shot, do remember that there is no refund on the ticket. That is what you will be asking for well before the joke winds up.