DIRECTOR: Madhur Bhandarkar
CAST: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta, Govind Namdeo, Ranvir Shorey, Mugdha Godse, Shahana Goswami, Helen
The only reason to watch Madhur Bhandarkar's films is for the way they go behind the headlines and show us the dirt and the hurt that's usually brushed under frayed rags and burnished carpets. In his better moments, Bhandarkar has let us see the stuff that's crawled out from underneath clearly, and we've overlooked the tackiness because it has added to the understanding of the subject. Heroine, Bhandarkar's pass at Bollywood, does none of this. It remains a string of drab cliches, despite a strong performance from leading lady Kareena Kapoor.
Let me count the ways. The small town girl who comes to Bollywood and becomes a star (Kapoor). The commitment phobic male star (Rampal). The incessant search for love. The deep insecurities. The petty jealousies. The unscrupulous rival (Godse).The possessive star wives. The all-powerful hero (Suri). The vulnerable heroine. Wait, did I leave anything out? The famous cricketer who likes hanging out with film stars (Hooda). The gay designer. The faithful secretary (Namdeo). The vulture-like media. The shrewish public relations type (Dutta). The bitchy celebrity hack. The swinging-both-ways promiscuity. The eccentric small-budget filmmaker (Shorey), and arty actress (Goswami). The neglected older star (Helen). And more.
Heroine has every single stereotype associated with Bollywood that we are familiar with, from our newspaper supplements, tabloid gossip, sensational TV programmes, fanzines, social networking platforms. And that is its problem, because we know too much about Bollywood. Everywhere we turn, there it is. Nothing that the film does is shockingly new, which goes against it: some news channels have long outdone Bhandarkar in tell-all, show-all luridness, the very qualities that were the USP of his films.
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