Super Cassettes Industries Ltd.'s PAPA - THE GREAT tells the story of Jaiprakash (Kishen Kumar), who lives with his wife Pooja (Naghma) and their son Sonu (Master Bobby). Jai is leading a very content life, except that there is one problem -- fear. Jai leads a dual life -- he maintains a bold front outwardly, but is a coward within. His only desire is to see his son grow up as a brave man, unlike him.
Life takes a turn when Jai witnesses a murder, while returning home one day. The murderer is none other than Raka (Satya Prakash), a ruthless killer. The cop (Mahaveer Shah), who is handling the case, convinces Jai to testify against Raka in the court of law. Gathering courage, Jai narrates the gruesome incident in court and Raka is sentenced for a term.
All hell breaks loose when Raka escapes from the clutches of law. Life becomes a nightmare for Jai, because Raka's sole intention is to eliminate Jai. Enters Bihari Mama (Shatrughan Sinha), a samaritan, who helps Jai face the world and take Raka to task.
The only novelty in this enterprise is that the protagonist is shown a meek character, almost till the last frame. The characterisation has been penned in such a way that the viewer feels sympathetic towards Jai, but at the same time he evokes mirth with his actions. Unfortunately, director K. Bhagyaraj, whose deft direction won laurels in the Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Pradha-Sree Devi starrer AAKHREE RAASTA, seems disinterested this time.
The basic story-idea is refreshingly different, but the outcome is far from satisfactory. Bhagyaraj's shot execution is crude at most places, giving the film a dated look; the special effects are tacky and the screenplay has been stretched to such an extent that the viewer loses his patience midway through the film. Barring a handful of light scenes, picturised on Kishen Kumar and his son, the film does not have even one scene that is worth remembering after the show has ended.
To add to the woes, Satish Kaushik's comedy track has no relevance with the plot of the film. Even otherwise, his scenes are hardly funny and fail to evoke laughter. Also, the songs in the second half have been incorporated without any valid situation whatsoever. In fact, at least two songs can easily be deleted to make the pace faster.
Among the songs that stand out are the title track (picturised in Mauritius), 'Apni Si Lagti Hain' and 'Husn Jawani Maalomaal', which has been picturised on pop singer Harbhajan Mann and Mayuri Kango. Cinematography is inconsistent. Dialogues have nothing fresh about them either.
Kishen Kumar tries hard to infuse life into his character and he does succeed to an extent. Naghma is passable, performing the mandatory things a heroine is required to do. The narration gets a boost with the arrival of Shatrughan Sinha, but he is just about okay. Laxmikant Berde hams. Master Bobby is quite smart.
On the whole, PAPA - THE GREAT lacks in qualities to have a safe ride at the box-office.