Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Heroine: The Bhandarkar school of cliches
Bollywood has always it’s own genre of films – masala entertainment, the re-birth saga, etc. “Heroine” belongs to the “Madhur Bhandarkar” genre of films. Pick any field, or place (Corporate, Jail, Fashion), stuff it with every cliché you can think of and more, add a gay character (irrespective of whether the story needs it or not), throw in some over-the-top dialogue, and of course, package the whole thing as “realistic cinema”.
Bhandarkar has made a career out of these slice-of-life films, most of which are just a collection of incidents that characterize that industry, according to the director. Remember the drug-abusing models in “Fashion” or the hard-nosed CEO in “Corporate”?
“Heroine” is no different – it feels like Bhandarkar has copy-pasted characters from his films to this one, changing their names and making cosmetic changes to suit this film. So there is the faithful secretary, the catty film journalist, the cricketer who is in love with an actress, the Bengali “arthouse” director who wants to make a commercial film, the married hero who is having an affair with an actress – they all find place in this very long treatise on the life of a leading lady in Bollywood.
Kareena Kapoor plays Mahi Arora, who, we are told came to Mumbai to become a star and escape her broken family”. Cliché no 1, ticked off. She’s lonely, but successful and desparately in love with Aryan Khanna, a married hero who refuses to commit to her. Cliché no 2, ticked off, all within the first five minutes of the film.
Bhandarkar doesn’t really want to tell us a story, he just wants to string together incidents that allow him to comment on the film industry, take potshots at a couple of people and insert dialogue like “he has the hot for you babe” (yes, not hots, but hot).
People in the movie constantly refer to each other as “babe” or “ bro”. Some of the dialogue is hilarious to say the least, but the laughter will soon dry up when you realize that this film refuses to end. Bhandarkar takes Mahi’s character on a rollercoaster of success, then failure, self-destruction, rising from the ashes, and then self-destruction all over again.
Towards the end of the film, I couldn’t even remember what brought on the first attack of self-destruction.
Kareena Kapoor is the sole saving grace in the film – she is in every single scene and she makes a genuine effort to put some amount of believability in the character. All the other characters, including Arjun Rampal and Randeep Hooda as the leading men seem as plastic as the film itself.
Unless you are a huge Kareena Kapoor fan, give this one a wide berth. And if you want to see a movie about how the film industry functions, watch Zoya Akhtar’s “Luck by Chance”.