Multiple National-Award winning filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar takes vicarious pleasure in giving his audience a ring-side view of various walks of life. His Chandni Bar (2001) dealt with Mumbai dance-bars; Page-3 (2005) showed the shallow side of the media and celebrity circus.
Fashion(2008) dealt with the seamier side of the fashion industry. And one must say here that in each of his previous works Madhur was far more in control of proceedings than he is in Heroine; a film that superficially traces Bollywood’s underbelly.
The protagonist is Mahi Arora ( Kareena Kapoor), a superstar, who has the world at her feet for a bit in the beginning of this film. Unfortunately she is also fashionably diagnosed with the bipolar syndrome and is happy to destroy herself in her various relationships.
If you are wondering why Sunshine Girl Mahi is on a constant emotional roller-coaster; the narrative tells you that she has had a messed up childhood and hence she has developed this masochistic streak.
So on the one hand, Mahi is cutting ribbons, and shooting for a dozen endorsements. But quickly enough she is also threatened by the arrival of the younger actresses and awards that go missing. To add to her woes, she’s drawn like a moth to a flame to her married co-star Aryan Khanna( Arjun Rampal); a cad.
Very clearly the written material at hand draws from unflattering accounts of various real and reel Hindi film heroines of the 80s (unfair to name them because a couple of them are not even around to defend themselves); who were in messy situations with their married co-stars.
In a bid to pack in every piece of studio gossip ever heard; Heroine makes Mahi swing from a relationship with a married actor to another with a successful cricketer ( Randeep Hooda). Cloning stereotypes of what the middle-class call a liberated; Mahi is also shown smoking, drinking and popping pills so frequently; she seems more like a social hazard than a free-thinking girl.
The film is made enjoyable by some pithy dialogue credited to Niranjan Iyengar. Sample this: aap media waalon ko toh script likhna chahiye. Heroine ne gaadi le li-toh businessman ne gift kardi; diamond khareeda, toh engagement ho gayi; hospital gayi check up ke liye, toh abortion ho gaya, LA gayi toh plastic surgery karva liya, aur Dubai gayi toh, uska rate card ban jata hai.
And Heroine would have been crisper had it not digressed to cover every Bollywood insider account. When the maker attempts to show mainstream cinema’s condescending attitude towards art-house films, precious screen time is lost. Mahi’s attempt to play a prostitute and say scandalous lines are clearly attempted to woo the front-benchers but the gig lacks conviction. The music is a complete let down and even the item song Halkat Jaawani fails to give the required `rise’ to proceedings.
Of course the saving grace of the film is Kareena who not only looks drop-dead gorgeous but is also adept as the girl interrupted.
Mahi Arora has all the trappings of a Bollywood superstar-name, fame and fortune. Unfortunately she’s also a manic depressive and constantly courts a death wish. Will Mahi succumb to her weakness or will she manage to stay afloat?
Heroine is Kareena’s Dirty Picture. The actress has shown ample cleavage and partaken in some really intimate bedroom scenes. Definitely worth a dekho!