If you have seen director Madhur Bhandarkar’s films you’re probably expecting an expose of an industry and a role sure to win the leading lady plenty of awards. Does the director who’s known for strong female characters and bringing out the best in his actresses do so in his latest venture, the much hyped Heroine? Sadly this time around, it’s Bhandarkar who stands in the way of the leading lady shining.
Enter film star Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) an A-list actress with fame, fortune, beauty, but alas! her insecurities regarding her place in the industry and in the heart of the man she loves, actor Aryan (Arjun Rampal) makes Mahi her own worst enemy.
When Aryan cannot give Mahi the commitment and security she longs for, she’s drawn into the arms of cricketer Angad (Randeep Hooda), who then cannot get Mahi to choose him over her career. Further complicating matters is married actor Abbas (Sanjay Suri) who desires Mahi and threatens her career if she refuses. The lonely heroine cannot find solace in her relationships nor contentment as a star in a fickle industry.
Heroine starts out on an exciting note. Opening credits are of Kareena in all her glamorous glory in sparkling and sexy costumes, swaying to the tunes of the title song ‘Main Heroine Hoon’. Soon after she dances to the sizzling chart topping ‘Halkat Jawani’ which unfortunately is where the film crescendos. And this song occurs nowhere near the interval. Poor writing and weak direction are guilty of failing Kapoor and her most brilliant of attempts stand no chance. A scene that may wake you up from a nap is when Mahi uses the last shocking trump card she has, just to keep her career kicking. But after those 10 minutes are over the film is back to the same lifeless proceedings for the final 20 minutes.
The audience is thrown into an industry where all characters are caricatures and awkward junior artists fill the frame, amidst the tacky set design, making the experience even more exasperating. Heroine is an ensemble of one-dimensional characters and Arjun Rampal’s disinterest is more than apparent, while Randeep Hooda finds no scope to bring something interesting to the table. Sanjay Suri’s genuine attempt at elevating scenes goes only so far, as the film’s feeble foundation fails him every time. And the lack of chemistry between Mahi and her men ensures the audience feels no sympathy with the heartbreaks witnessed on screen.
If a heroine is interested in recognition as a serious actress, Bhandarkar is the person to call. But this time around rather than being a stepping stone, Bhandarkar is the impediment for the actress to reach her full potential. The role of Mahi had the possibility of being the crown jewel in Kareena’s career, but that distinction shall remain with her portrayal of Geet from Jab We Met. She’s always been comfortable in melodramatic moments and this movie gives her plenty of pointless opportunities. Kareena gives her all scenes and makes it evident she is more than capable of handling the toughest of moments, making the audience feel the actress has been wronged.
I did find myself admiring Kareena’s incredible beauty which is captivating in the film, whether she’s dolled-up and glamorous, or fresh faced and vulnerable. Blessed with naturally high cheekbones and full lips, Kareena’s one of the few actresses whose features haven’t miraculously morphed over the years.
Call it recycling or catering to a scandal-obsessed society, Bhandarkar has relied on viewers to be taken aback by his expose pieces that often include homosexuality, extramarital affairs and women behaving badly. Time has come for the director to go back to his roots and dust off the skills that enabled him to make the extraordinary Chandni Bar, as his reliable formula has lost steam.
If you’re interested in watching a sexy, scandalous film based on the life an actress then rent The Dirty Picture. In the mood to watch Kareena play a complicated woman (but with a better platform)? This year’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a far better choice. But for old-fashioned sensationalism, buy yourself a trashy tabloid: it’s much cheaper than a ticket to this flick and far more satisfying.