Heroine: Bhandarkar has nothing new to offer

Producers: Ronnie Screwvala, Madhur Bhandarkar, Siddharth Roy Kapoor.
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar.
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Shahana Goswami,Ranvir Shorey, Divya Dutta, Mugdha Godse, Sanjay Suri, Govind Namdeo, Helen, Pooja Chopra, Shilpi Sharma, Achint Kaur, Lilette Dubey, Rakesh Bapat, Dilnaz Irani.

MUMBAI: Every time a heroine oriented film is due for release, which is not very often, I am asked to give my views on why heroine films don‘t work. I used to give detailed explanations hoping that what I said was understood. I think Madhur Bhandarkar‘s latest film, Heroine, has made my job easier. Next time I am asked this question. I can just say, "Go watch Heroine and you will know why. Heroine is usually what our heroine films are all about, which is certainly not a Lara Croft movie; this is not even a The Dirty Picture or a Kahaani! Usually, those plotting a heroine oriented film end up making their heroine‘s character weak and exploited and this is not what people want to see."

Bhandarkar has a mould ready in which he can cast his fashion model, a corporate woman or a heroine. The profession changes but the shape, size and sound remain the same. The events, the ups and downs, the drama are rewritten around his new protagonist but the essence remains the same. Bhandarkar is supposed to be one of the progressive filmmakers but what he has been making since Chandni Bar is like what Jacqueline Susanne and Jackie Collins wrote and was filmed as long ago as 1970s!

In Heroine, Kareena Kapoor is a whimsical girl with a troubled childhood. She has run away from her home in Delhi, come to Mumbai and has become a top film star; the film does not dwell on how. Her character in the film tells the story of what is supposed to be happening in our film industry, especially star relations, emotions, exploitations, betrayals, insecurities, media and PR stunts, almost all exaggerated.

Kapoor is celebrating the success of one of her films and expects super star Arjun Rampal, who she is passionate about, to attend which he does not. Their romance is kept back successfully from the media in a scenario where, otherwise, each star bitches about the other and leaks scandals to media. Kapoor has self destructive tendencies coupled with her insecurities about her top slot. And her lover, Rampal, makes her pop pills, drink continuously and smoke like a chimney. Her suffering is generally self-inflicted. Her pressure on Rampal to marry her finally leads to him dumping her. In search of love, she falls for the successful cricketer, played by Randeep Hooda. If she was in a hurry to tie the knot with Rampal, here Hooda is in hurry which, she feels, will be detrimental to her career. The romance breaks. Kapoor‘s career is all but over when she engages the services of a noted PR person, Divya Dutta, who knows all the tricks, usually dirty, of keeping her client in limelight.

Kapoor is back on covers and in the endorsement market but a big film offer eludes her. Always exploited, Kapoor decides to play dirty to get that one offer. But she dodges advances by Sanjay Suri and he in turn reduces her role to a cameo.

Desperate, Kapoor says yes to two offers, one to do a shoestring budget film and the other to attend a wedding in Delhi for a fee. Rampal is on same flight on his way to attend the same wedding. The lovers unite and decide to do a film together. But, again, Kapoor‘s insecurities get the better of her and as a result she loses both, the film as well as Rampal. But before that she has played her last card: releasing her sex video with Rampal on the net to promote the shoestring budget film she did. If such tricks worked in real life, every willing-to-strip newbie would be a star on debut. However, here it works for Kapoor and people flock to theatres to watch her small budget film as if the sex video was its trailer!

The basic plot of this film remains same as his earlier film. The problem in case of Heroine is that there is no story as such to hold a viewer‘s interest. The film tries to cram in all that is supposed to be evil about the film industry with all its stereotypes, including a bitching friend, a gay dress designer, a bisexual guy on hand when in need, a loyal secretary as well as a cunning one, party scenes, bought media loyalties, forgotten stars and so on. It is all used to deliver 147 minutes of tedium. So whose story is this, a heroine or the film industry?

The casting is poor in that those vying for or competing with Kapoor for the top spot look like side actors. Kapoor and Rampal are the best the film has to offer. Stars draw people to the cinema; making an economical film with small timers does not mean low admission rates. Heroine does not have much to offer and the viewer is saddled with faces he does not care to watch. Bhandarkar disappoints both in writing as well as direction. Except at three or four places, dialogue is routine. Musically, the film has one item number in Halkat jawani, which is well choreographed, along with two hummable numbers, Tujhpe fida and Khwahishein. Photography is good.

This was the film for Kapoor to show her acting skills but that does not happen because of her ill-defined character. The character lacks consistency due to which one fails to identify or empathise with her. Rampal is okay but looks spent in this film. Shahana Goswami impresses in a brief role. Others who do well are Ranvir Shorey, Datta, Helen, Govind Namdeo and Hooda.

A comparison with The Dirty Picture becomes inevitable after watching Heroine and one concludes that Heroine has nothing of what made The Dirty Picture a hit.

Heroine has had huge amount of promotion which has not helped it get a decent opening and the bad reports will only make it suffer further at the box office.

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