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Kunaal Roy Kapur and Sumeet Vyas in one of the stills from the series. 
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Watch Eros Now’s ‘Side Hero’ for Kunaal Roy Kapur’s Looney Charm

Kunaal Roy Kapur lends a trippy vibe to the uneven show.

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Side Hero

Watch Eros Now’s ‘Side Hero’ for Kunaal Roy Kapur’s Looney Charm

A friend’s oft-repeated advice to me goes something like this – “Don’t be the supporting character of your own story, you’re the heroine!” But it’s the supporting actors who have been scene stealers with their meaty roles and layered performances - be it Katekar of Sacred Games or Chewbacca of Star Wars. Apart from propping up the main lead, their vantage perspective from the fringes ends up being more memorable.

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Kunaal Roy Kapur and Tillotama Shome in a still from <i>Side Hero</i>
Kunaal Roy Kapur and Tillotama Shome in a still from Side Hero
(Photo Courtesy: Eros Now)

With little fanfare, Eros Now released its first original series last week - Side Hero that showcases a less examined life on screen. In a meta turn of events, the hero's sidekick is the protagonist and in a first of sorts for Indian content, Kunaal Roy Kapur plays himself replete with mentions of Delhi Belly, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani and his not-so illustrious career.

A poster of <i>Side Hero.</i>
A poster of Side Hero.
(Photo Courtesy: Eros Now)
The 8-episode series tries to wring every last bit of humour out of the day-to-day humdrum and struggles of a side hero albeit from a privileged family.  With a penchant for wry self-deprecation Kapur inhabits the skin of a ‘Kangana-vadi’ actor, who refuses to take help from his successful siblings Siddharth Roy Kapur or Aditya Roy Kapur and yearns to make it big in Bollywood. Even in a film like Teesri Laash, he’s offered the role of the Doosri Laash. There’s an earnestness to Kunaal Roy Kapur’s performance that can only come from uninhibitedly channeling his inner gawkiness. It is to the writers’ credit that the whimsical humour does not bend over backwards to pander to mainstream audiences. 

Teeming with Bollywood references like 'Bhansali's bullshit blue backlight' and packed to the rafters with cameos, the series intends to be a spoof of the Hindi film industry but falls short of unpacking and exploring the possibilities of this devilishly promising premise. Each episode dwells on a chapter in his life revolving around him trying to make a mark as the lead but settling for secondary roles. He’s always just on the cusp - on the verge of breaking out but is forced to play second fiddle.

Each episode attempts to weave the strands of the personal and the political but only cursorily flits through topical talking points like nepotism, dodgy paid appearances, misogyny and other showbiz ‘institutions’. While the writers, Nipun Dharmadhikari and Anuvab Pal treat the viewers to dialogue quivering with wit, the episodes begin to appear more like extended sketches and less like episodic narratives. Whenever the jokes really hit, Side Hero is almost electric to watch. There’s even an allusion to baby Taimur as the new Che! Kapur’s onscreen ex-wife Gauahar Khan and son, Rumi offer ample scope for dousing the narrative with an agreeable drama quotient, but they only serve as foils devoid of interesting arcs.
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Kunaal Roy Kapur and Gauahar Khan in a still from <i>Side Hero.</i>
Kunaal Roy Kapur and Gauahar Khan in a still from Side Hero.
(Photo Courtesy: Eros Now)

While the best episodes feature cameos by Vijay Krishna Acharya, Konkona Sen, Sumeet Vyas and the star of the moment who can’t be named without treading on a spoiler, it’s the track carved out for Shakti Kapoor, who appears as Kapur’s alter ego of sorts that doesn’t work.

Kunaal Roy Kapur and Shakti Kapoor in a still from <i>Side Hero.</i>
Kunaal Roy Kapur and Shakti Kapoor in a still from Side Hero.
(Photo Courtesy: Eros Now)

In a delectable irony of sorts, in this Rohan Sippy directorial, the sidekick to this ‘Side Hero’ Gopal Dutt offers the most laughs delivered with a deadpan face. The show gathers its strongest momentum when the partnership between his manager essayed by Dutt and Kapur comes into play. Watch this well-intentioned show for this duo and Kunaal Roy Kapur’s looney charm. It has its heart in the right place but soon assumes an uneven tenor.

Kunaal Roy Kapur and Gopal Dutt in a still from <i>Side Hero.</i>
Kunaal Roy Kapur and Gopal Dutt in a still from Side Hero.
(Photo Courtesy: Eros Now)

Pro-tip - In one of the scenes, Kunaal says of Manmarziyaan, “Gaanja Ka Prayog karne se Anurag ka chalchitra, zyada acche se samajh mein aata hai.” This may just be veiled advice for potential viewers on how Side Hero can be best viewed.

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