Major Ram is assigned to protect the daughter of General Bakshi, the commander in charge of Project Milap, which takes him undercover to St. Paul's College in Darjeeling. By an amazing coincidence that only a true Bollywood fan could swallow, the Major's younger brother Lakshman Prasad (Lucky) Sharma studies at the same college.
After having his career emasculated by Karan Johar, I am happy to see that first time director Farah Khan has made a man of SRK again. How ironic that it took a woman director to give Khan a role he could finally get down and dirty with, after playing the teary-eyed lover-boy for so long.
Main Hoon Naa is a great summer time masala entertainer. It has dollops of action, romance, family angst, and a little medicinal dose of patriotic preaching about peace (estranged brothers Ram and Lakshman neatly symbolize India and Pakistan, separated by the folly of their leaders and elders).
But its greatest strength is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The action could best be described as The Matrix meets Jackie Chan, with special effects that are one minute thrilling and the next minute laughable. But it's such fun to see SRK back in action, after his much publicized neck troubles, and encouraging to see Hindi filmmakers experimenting with cutting edge special effects technology.
The comedy revolves around the obviously over-aged Major Ram as a returning college student. Shah Rukh plays it just right, and not only neatly parodies his college role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but also does a fantastic job of remaining in character and keeping his ram-rod straight military bearing whether he's doing comedy, drama or action.
Newcomer Zayed Khan (Lucky) has a way to go with his acting craft, but I found that he grew on me as the movie progressed, and he just sort of meshed with the elder Khan. They have a nice chemistry together. Amrita Rao (the general's daughter) is talented and gorgeous, and a great dancer. See her in Masti, where she also sparkles. Suniel Shetty does an excellent job underplaying the villain, and resists the urge to go overboard in his scenes. I loved the way Farah emphasizes his sexy badness by blaring heavy metal music whenever he makes an entrance. It made me chuckle every time.
Unfortunately the classy and sexy Sushmita Sen has little to do, but she and Shah Rukh fairly set the screen on fire in their few scenes together. Her seductive chemistry teacher is the perfect foil for his shy, sexually naive character. I'd love to see them in another film together, where she gets full screen time. She has a strength and maturity about her that plays very well off of his vulnerability and boyishness.
First time director Farah Khan takes the skills and creative genius she has displayed in her choreography (the Chaiyya Chaiyya dance atop a moving train in Dil Se alone has earned her a place in Bollywood legend) and demonstrates an exuberant love for the films of her youth. Main Hoon Naa either parodies or pays tribute to dozens of other Bollywood films, from Sholay to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The running gag where Major Ram bursts into uncontrollable singing whenever he sees Ms. Chandni, the chemistry teacher, is hilarious and endearing. And the outrageous chase scene with Ram on a rickshaw in hot pursuit of a jeep is just great. As a relative new-comer to Bollywood myself, I know that a lot of the references were lost on me, but I got a lot of them, too.
If you prefer Karan Johar three hanky tear-jerkers, this isn't for you. But if you want some thrills and comedy and family drama with your romance, then see Main Hoon Naa! Even the closing credits are fun. And Farah's director's commentary in the DVD special features is one of the best I've ever heard.