India Masala

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.