<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>

Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. Starring Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Sanjay Suri, Mugdha Godse, Ranvir Shorey, Shahana Goswami, Lillete Dubey, Helen.

I liked Madhur Bhandarkar’s films Corporate and Page 3. But I think his take on the glamour world has gotten a bit trite and cliche now. Apart from being mind-numbingly long, Heroine fails to show us anything new or interesting.

Kareena Kapoor plays Mahi Arora, a star on top of her game but her bipolar disorder and  love for a married man played by Arjun Rampal contribute to her rapid decline. She’s also not one of those actresses who will sleep with someone for a role. Sure she’d charge her mom to attend an event, she’d release a sex tape of herself, ask a minister to dig up dirt on a rival actress but she won’t cheat. That’s her moral grounding.

Now what Madhur Bhandarkar serves up in the first half of this film is some very bad acting, melodramatic scenes of a film awards ceremony, a cliched portrayal of homosexuals in the industry and how people have to sleep around for roles as well as the catty-bitchy side of it all. Hmph! Did we not know this already? Umm, Bombay Times or Mid-Day anyone? Perhaps if the film had come out a decade or so ago, it would have made a minor impact. As it stands, it tells you absolutely nothing new about life as an actor in Bollywood.

As for Kareena, she plays psycho pretty well. In fact, she’s so psycho that you can’t really empathise with her. She has screwed up her own career and personal life. It isn’t the industry that has gotten to her at all. Also, all the crying and rage seems to come naturally to Kareena (though I couldn’t help but wonder how Kangna Ranaut would have done the part). And there’s not much of a range of emotions there.

The most promising bits are when her character decides to do a small, hatke film with a director played by Ranvir Shorey (excellently done). In fact this storyline was nuanced and interesting. Even the lesbian angle – which, unfortunately, people in the audience found cringe-worthy and funny – was handled well. Unlike Madhur’s stereotyping of gays in the film industry as being effeminate and loud.

Arjun Rampal as Aryan, the manipulative actor who is getting out of his marriage to be with Mahi, is quite good. Sanjay Suri plays an actor in the film and at first you wonder why so much screen time goes into his character. He plays an important part a bit later on. Oh and Randeep Hooda is charming and sincere but there’s never any chemistry between him and Kareena. Only the parts with yesteryear star Helen were moderately poignant and real.

Okay so Heroine weaves in some real life industry drama like sex tapes, a controversy over an actor’s passport, child adoption by a star (this part in the film came out of nowhere), a line about buying an IPL team with a businessman (a dig at Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia), reality shows and tie-ups with cricketers. It’s sorta all just thrown in like Madhur had a list and he said, ‘Okay check, check, check… done!’

Too many characters, lots of ham acting and poor production values gave me a headache the first half. The second half was a tad better but you couldn’t help notice people in the audience checking their watches. How much longer can we sit watching Kareena turn from bipolar to a depressed lump of hysteria? Where on earth could this film possibly go? Certainly not to any awards ceremony.

Watch the popular song Halkat Jawani in the Trailer box above right. 

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