Kartik Aaryan is never exceptional, notes Sukanya Verma.

Masala films are a litmus test for fame.

How much disbelief a star can elicit from its audience determines its actual reach.

Back then, David Dhawan was having a blast casting Govinda, Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan’s bespoke mass appeal into patently goofy entertainers.

What made this predictable paisa vasoolrewarding is the combination of an actor’s distinctive personal style and a God-given talent for understanding the pulse of the front bencher.

Not everyone has this gift, but god knows they try.

In ShehzadaKartik Aaryan tries to recreate Allu Arjun’s audience-catching antics, but not from scratch.

Every slo-mo flip, dance move and punchline owes all of its swagger to the ‘Stylish Star,’ who might please his fans, but lacks confidence.

An official remake of the latter’s Telugu superhit, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, it’s about babies who are swapped at birth, with one growing up to be the son of a wealthy family and the other being the son of a normal Joe. This is vintage David Dhawan.

Only this time it’s his son Rohit at the helm.

Originally created by Trivikram, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo‘s Poppycock plot was redeemed by Allu Arjun’s all-round charisma and Thaman’s infectious soundtrack.

Aside from a few favorable tweaks and a character tweak or two, the Dhawan Jr. remake is pretty much a copy-paste affair without a single Pritam humming ditty.

Shehzada shortens the running time by 20 minutes, tones down the sexism of the original and doesn’t quite reduce the other swapped son to a prop.

It’s almost not enough to make an already brainless film even better.

On the one hand, a character is the epitome of all things true and fair, and yet has nothing to say when people almost kill someone and put them in a coma, or cheat on perfectly cute spouses for no rhyme or reason.

Jealous of his colleague’s rise from employee to CEO, Paresh Rawal decides to replace the stillborn of Manisha Koirala and Ronit Roy with his own child (who will grow up to be Ankur Rathee).

But once the exchange happens, the poor little rich baby (grows into Kartik Aaryan) starts whining. The initiated nurse falls into a coma.

Twenty-five years later, Kartik Aaryan learns the truth about his filthy rich parents and why he treated them so badly haanikarak bapu.

Meanwhile, Sachin Khedekar, grandpa in both the original and the remake, hires Kartik to meddle in their family affairs, much like Govinda did Hero #1 without housework or uniform.

For eye candy, there’s a sprawling white mansion straight out of one Architecture Digest Problem and leggy lawyer Kriti Sanon until her inexplicable disappearance in the second half.

To be honest, her Instagram could have filled that role.

For action sequences, there’s a snarling Sunny Hinduja poking umbrella tips into people’s chests.

At the center of the madness is Kartik Aaryan, who gives speeches about almond milk hereNepotism, coddled mothers, adultery, unhappily rich, blissfully poor while they try super hard to play the gallery.

He’s okay, but never exceptional.

If only making a name for yourself in old-fashioned masala was as easy as craving old-fashioned fame.

Shehzada Review Rediff rating: