|UTV Motion Pictures and Bhandarkar Entertainment’s Heroine (A) is the story of a hot-headed top Bollywood actress who messes up her professional as well as personal life because of her insecurities and manipulations.
Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) is a successful Bollywood actress whose saleability depends not just on her hits and super-hits but also upon the heroes and banners she works with. She is constantly under threat of losing her position to rival actresses. She is obsessed with Aryan Khanna (Arjun Rampal) who is a top Bollywood hero on the verge of a divorce from his wife, Isha (Shilpi Sharma). Aryan is unwilling to commit to the marriage Mahi has been looking for but she loves him so madly that she bears this humiliation. Besides this, Mahi is also very insecure that big film assignments are going to rival heroines. One day, publicist Pallavi Narayan (Divya Dutta) approaches Mahi and takes up the assignment of building her brand. Pallavi does such a good job of it that Mahi comes into the limelight again and her career starts looking up. However, in the midst of all this, she has a breakup with Aryan and soon, starts seeing Indian cricket team vice captain Angad Paul (Randeep Hooda). On her career front, she uses all means, fair (few) and foul (mostly) to bag films.
The fickle nature of the film industry once again sees Mahi slide downhill after some time. Desperate, she signs an art film for the first time but even that has to be shelved mid-way. Frustrated now, she does the unthinkable at the time of release of a small film she has signed in desperation – leaks her video of making love with Aryan Khanna – and once again gets the spotlight on herself. This ensures that her small film becomes a hit but her loyal secretary, Rashid (Govind Namdeo), leaves her in disgust.
Aryan Khanna re-enters her life, promising to make a film starring the two of them. But even that project remains still-born. Mahi feels cheated and let down by everyone. What does she do then?
The story, penned by Madhur Bhandarkar, Anuradha Tiwari and Manoj Tyagi, is quite dark and depressing. Even the screenplay, written by the trio and Niranjan Iyengar, has plenty of sad and depressing moments and very few happy ones. In that sense, the film lacks very much in entertainment value. Mahi Arora is shown to be suffering from bipolar disorder and depression and is manipulative and scheming, smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish. Actually, the film’s title, Heroine, is generic but it is difficult to believe that the story of Mahi Arora is representative of the story of any top heroine. In fact, the entire story looks a bit far-fetched in today’s age and time. Another drawback is that there are several characters essayed by lesser-known actors because of which keeping track of the references made to them becomes a task for the audience. Still another minus point is that the drama moves at a slow pace and often seems to come back from where it started. Had Mahi’s rise to the top also been shown, the contrast while showing her downfall would’ve been interesting. But since the film only concentrates on her downward movement, it becomes monotonous after a point of time. The games played by industry people while dealing with one another may interest a section of the audience but won’t hold the attention of everyone for too long. Also, there would be people who would not like the portrayal of almost every film person in such bad and negative light because it makes things unbelievable.
No doubt, some scenes have shock value, especially for the layman. For instance, how roles are manipulated, how the media is used, how heroes can force their director to chop off scenes from a film, how indecent advances are made etc. But they aren’t enough to sustain the audience’s interest all through the film. The first half moves at a more leisurely pace and is, therefore, boring in parts. Also, its repetitiveness gets a bit irritating at times. The second half may be moving at a faster pace but the drama doesn’t really differ too much from that in the first half. The film also reminds of The Dirty Picture but it neither has the liveliness of that hit film nor its entertainment value. The starkness of Heroine may be liked by the elite audience but it is this very starkness which will greatly limit the film’s box-office potential. Climax is quite abrupt and not satisfying at all. Dialogues (Niranjan Iyengar) are excellent.
Kareena Kapoor is outstanding in the title role. She delivers a performance which will always remain among the topnotch performances of her career. She looks gorgeous and acts so fabulously that her acting might become a pulling draw for the film, to an extent. Her histrionics in the film’s second half are especially worthy of applause and awards. Arjun Rampal acts quite well but he looks tired and worn out, which does not quite go with the character he plays – that of a top hero. Randeep Hooda does full justice to his role. Divya Dutta performs splendidly in a role with a lot of substance. Govind Namdeo leaves a mark. Sanjay Suri is nice. Shahana Goswami has her moments. Ranveer Shorey acts wonderfully. Mugdha Godse is alright as Rhea Mehra. Lilette Dubey is good. Rashmi Nigam (as Zara, wife of Abbas Khan) is okay. Shilpi Sharma (as Aryan Khanna’s wife) is fairly nice. Achint Kaur does justice to her role of Dr. Tanvi Verma. Harsh Chhaya is natural. Delnaaz Irani impresses in the role of the journalist. Raqesh Vashisht (as Sameer Khan), Pooja Chopra (as Shaheen Khan), Sabina Sheema (as Sheena Bhatia), Pallavi Sharda (as Gayatri Reddy), Helen and the rest lend ordinary support.
Director Madhur Bhandarkar does not offer anything new in the film and that is one of the biggest drawbacks of the film which has been made as an insider’s exposé on the glamour world of Bollywood. His obsession for starkness and authenticity have made him sacrifice entertainment to the point that the film becomes too tension-ridden, dark and depressing. He, however, deserves credit for making Kareena Kapoor look so glamorous (mention must also be made of her costume designer, Manish Malhotra) and for extracting extraordinary work from out of her. Salim-Sulaiman’s music is good. The ‘Halkat jawani’ song is a hit and the ‘Saaiyaan’ number is soulful. Other songs needed to have been better. Lyrics (Sanjay Chhel, Niranjan Iyengar, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Irfan Siddique and Neelesh Misra) are nice. Song picturisations (Ganesh Acharya, Remo D’souza and Jasmin Ojha) are appropriate, the choreography of ‘Halkat jawani’ being the best. Salim-Sulaiman’s background score is of a good standard. Mahesh Limaye’s camerawork is very good. Sets (Sukant Panigrahy) should have been richer and more ostentatious. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing needed to be crisper.
On the whole, Heroine is too stark and dark to be entertaining. It is not universally appealing. It will go down well sectionally only. Business in the big cities will be good during the weekend only, but its fate in lesser cities, lesser multiplexes and ‘B’ and ‘C’ class centres will be way below the mark. Considering its cost, the film will prove to be a loss-making enterprise.
Released on 21-9-’12 at Regal (daily 1 show), Eros (daily 3 shows), Maratha Mandir and other cinemas of Bombay by UTV Motion Pictures. Publicity: excellent. Opening: so-so. …….Also released all over. Opening was dull in the multiplexes and poor in single-screen cinemas.