Surprisingly, it is the male actors who walk away with the attention in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine, despite the spotlight being on Kareena Kapoor. Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda and Ranvir Shorey make the most of their roles in the National-Award winning filmmaker’s yet another woman-centric film.
Heroine has the director’s typical treatment: A disturbed girl has the whole world chewing her brains. This world includes a harebrained mother who doesn’t have a life of her own but worries about her daughter’s, a gay designer buddy who waves his limp wrist before the superstar’s face, lovers with whom the heroine shares complicated relationships, and lots of pills and alcohol that act as crutches in the troubled star’s life as well as Kareena Kapoor’s acting, and the ubiquitous cigarette.
Madhur Bhandarkar established long ago that he cannot ever make a movie without placing stereotypes everywhere, and we learned with each of his films that he doesn’t dig too deep into the industries he takes on – be they glamorous (Fashion, Corporate and now Heroine) or unpleasant (Chandni Bar, Jail) – and what we have in Heroine is his usual stock of uncaring movie stars, ruthless corporates, bitchy socialites and homosexuals.
To his credit, however, are the male actors of Heroine. Arjun Rampal is very good as the in-the-middle-of-a-bitter-divorce movie star with whom Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) shares a passionate relationship. Randeep Hooda plays the Vice Captain of the Indian cricket team who is enjoying a fabulous phase in his career when he meets Mahi at a party. Ranvir Shorey is outstanding as the eccentric filmmaker, who hates commercial cinema and disciplines a crew member whose phone rings during a serious moment by telling him to go out and kneel down.
Ironically, Kareena Kapoor’s Mahi Arora, at some point, gets fed up of being a star and wants to be known as a good actor. It’s that moment that made me laugh, for Kareena Kapoor has acted properly only once in her career, and even in Heroine, a film in which she has everything backing her, it’s only after half the movie is over that she begins slipping into the role. A scene that stands out is the one in which Mahi’s co-star from the art film she’s doing takes her to a red-light area to help her understand the behaviour of prostitutes. It’s after this scene that Kareena Kapoor manages to shed her inhibitions and give Madhur Bhandarkar his Heroine.
Mahi Arora’s rise back to fame and the emotional turmoil that comes with it is the meat of the story, which is overcooked and too chewy as a result. Madhur Bhandarkar could’ve kept it shorter and hard-hitting, for his style is too predictable and his twists aren’t shocking at all, but most of all, he should consider changing his formula or risk being known forever as a one-trick pony.