A dazzling leading lady, brilliant cinematography and a typical 'Sunset Boulevard' set-up! 'Heroine' proves successful in showcasing a lot of jhatkas from B-Town - an industry director Bhandarkar seems most familiar with!
The greatest drawback of 'Heroine' is that it focuses more on the emotions of an insecure, obsessive and moody superstar (suffering from the 'Bi-Polar' disorder), than an actress living through tough times in her career. Unlike, Madhur Bhandarkar’s finest ‘Chandni Bar’ which traces the saga of a bar dancer in the gullis of Bombay, or 'Fashion' that explores modeling as a lifestyle and a doomsday conspiracy, 'Heroine' is neither a depiction of reality, nor a fast-paced film.
The USP of 'Heroine’ is the dazzling role of Mahie Arora (Kareena Kapoor) who looks a million starry bucks and delivers a superlative performance. She manages to carry a naïve screenplay and clichéd dialogues on her well-toned shoulders, delivering everything as whole heartedly as she can. But between all the smoking, alcohol, pill popping, 'kohl-ruining' crying sequences, and ‘The Dirty Picture’ - like cleavage showing, there is little she is left with to do!
Helen as the 'once upon a time' veteran actress Shagufta - A Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and Mahie’s idol, delivers a good yet preachy performance. Her dialogues remind you of yesteryear actors who wither away with time and are forgotten despite being around. Her character could have definitely been a lot more powerful.
Unfortunately, even the aging Shagufta's beautiful relationship with Mahie, doesn’t sensitize the audience! And this is one of the biggest shortcomings of 'Heroine'.
The show stealer is definitely the bold and confidante Divya Dutta, who plays the PR mastermind - Pallavi Narayanan. She delivers some of the finest dialogues and plays a character everybody seems to connect with. She unquestionably deserves a pat on the back for her in the face, smooth flowing performance.
Dialogue writer Niranjan Iyengar’s one line punches, "Humare industry main zip aur zubaan sambhalkar kholni chahiye" are fantastic. But they are ruined by Mughda Ghodse - artificial and over-the-top, and hackneyed homosexual fashion designers saying 'Babes' and 'Shits' literally over a hundred times throughout the film! The boring narration by a 'so-called' journalist is unpleasant to the ear, if not distinctly odd!
The male supporting star cast, comprising of Arjun Rampal as the crown prince, Randeep Hooda as the cricketer-cum-Bollywood lover, Sanjay Suri as a producer-actor and Govind Namdev as the secretary, deliver everything they can offer. But with the minimalistic scope of Bhandarkar’s script, they seem to be add-ons and contribute little to the plot.
The sub-plots don't work for the film and fail to carry the story forward by regaling the viewer. Writers Anuradha Tiwari and Manoj Tyagi who beautifully scripted ‘Fashion’ fail to create magic on paper this time around.
‘Heroine’ would have been crisper had it not shifted away from the main plot, trying to cover every Bollywood insider account – the socialites, the vanity van gossip, the cheating husbands!
When the maker attempts to show mainstream cinema's condescending attitude towards art-house films, it uses the cameo by Ranvir Shorey. As a distinguished theatre actor, Shorey plays an eccentric, Bengali film maker wonderfully. But in the process, precious screen time is lost, adding no impetus to our leading lady Kareena's character.
Mahie's attempt to play the challenging role of a prostitute, her gradual, post-interval bonding with arty actress, Shahana Goswami, completely shifts from the storyline that the film began with.
Assigning scandalous lines to both the actresses is clearly attempted by the writers to WOO the front-benchers, but all the gigs lack conviction. Shahana, however, delivers a great performance with ease!
Lilette Dubey, plays herself, like most of her previous roles – ‘Delhi In A Day’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and now in ‘Heroine’ - as the worrying 'Mother-cum-Mistress' with a miniature, not very impressive role.
Salim and Sulaiman Merchant who have composed some of India's finest and hatke songs in films like 'Dor', 'Iqbal', 'Chak De India' and 'Cocktail', produce four fantastic, stand-out songs.
Alas! In the film, they are all out of place and clearly unwanted.
If you are that kind of movie-goer, and you know what kind I am referring to - you will enjoy Kareena’s thumkas to 'Halkat Jawani', and she does deliver them gracefully! But 'Main heroine Hoon', 'Saaiyaan' and 'Khwahishein' do not compliment the montages in the film.
Despite everything not working in its favour, if you plan to go watch ‘Heroine’ after all, be sure you leave your seat at least ten minutes before the finale! So horrifying is the ending of the film, the worst, by far in Bhandarkar’s kitty!
Finally, with Pandora’s Box now open and running in theatres, it is crystal clear that Bhandarkar manages to show the glossy exterior of the industry and not the fragilities we are all waiting to watch since ages now! Do actresses really howl, embarass and make love to married men in anger? Do they consult psychologists, teary eyed, like portrayed constantly in ‘Heroine’? Well! Mr. Director sure seems to have lost the tang of realism with this film?