Fox Star Studios, Dharma Productions and Phantom’s Shaandaar (UA) is a romantic comedy. Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor) is a wedding organiser. He is in charge of the wedding of Esha Arora (Sanah Kapoor) with Robin Fundwani (Vikas Verma). Esha is the daughter of Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapur) and Neetu (Niki Walia) and the grand-daughter of Kamla Arora (Sushma Seth) who is tyrannical, to say the least. Robin is the brother of Harry Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor). Alia (Alia Bhatt) is the adopted daughter of Bipin Arora. Kamla Arora hates Alia and loses no opportunity to insult and humiliate her.

As luck would have it, both, Alia and Jagjinder Joginder, are insomniacs. Bipin Arora loves both his daughters and is very sad that Alia can’t sleep. In the hope that she’d be able to sleep some day and, therefore, dream too, he keeps sketching dreams for her on paper and gifts those precious pieces of paper to her. Since Alia and Jagjinder find it impossible to sleep, they bond at nights while Esha’s wedding celebrations are on. Bipin Arora, the possessive father that he is, hates Alia bonding with Jagjinder whom he can’t stand even otherwise.

It soon emerges that Robin has been pressurised by his money-minded brother, Harry, to marry Esha who is rather obese. Harry Fundwani, who holds himself out to be a multi-millionaire but is actually broke, thinks that the Aroras have a lot of money and they would financially help him and his family once the mar­riage is solemnised. On her part, Kamla Arora, the authoritarian head of the Arora family, also views the wedding as just a business deal. She assumes that Harry Fundwani is loaded with money and this marriage would change the fortunes of the Arora family which, unknown to the Fundwanis, is bankrupt. So, clearly, it is a marriage of convenience for the two families. While Esha is ready to sacrifice for the sake of her family by getting married to a boy who is clearly not of her liking, Robin shows his displeasure with the compromise he has made, by publicly humiliating Esha for her obesity, often reducing her to tears.

What happens then? Does Esha marry Robin or not? Does Robin accept her as his wife? Does Bipin Arora come to his helpless daughter, Esha’s rescue or is he too scared of his mother’s iron hand and acidic tongue to stand up for his daughter? Do Alia and Jagjinder get cured of their insomnia? Does Bipin Arora let Alia marry Jagjinder?

Vikas Bahl and Chaitally Parmar have written a story which borders on the impossible but it has its heart in the right place. Characters are exaggerated but because it is designed as a comedy, the audiences, especially youngsters, enjoy them and their antics/behaviour/mannerisms. Anvita Dutt has penned a screenplay which caters completely to the youth and the city audience. The catchword in her screenplay is entertainment and she manages to evoke laughter at many places. Credit must be given to the story and screenplay writers for having added emotional undercurrents in the seemingly fun drama. The emotions touch the right chord and a couple of them could even make the weak-hearted cry. As for the funny sequences, there are many to make the audience laugh and even guffaw sometimes. For instance, the track of bridegroom Robin devoted to exposing his vanity is supremely enjoyable. Equally entertaining is the track of Kamla Arora. The ‘Mehndi With Karan’ sequence is another highlight. The romance between Jagjinder and Alia is breezy and touches the heart. All in all, the film has a lot for the youth of the cities. It may not cater to the audi­ence of the single-screen cinemas and the small centres but what it offers to the city-bred youngsters is very entertaining, enjoyable and engrossing.

Anvi­ ta Dutt’s dialogues are excellent and will appeal greatly to the youth in the cities.

Shahid Kapoor looks very handsome and plays Jagjinder Joginder with effortless ease. He makes his character very endearing with a lovely performance. If he is natural as ever in the romantic and fun sequences, he also holds his own in the serious ones. Needless to add, his dances are supremely graceful. Alia Bhatt shines in a role tailor-made for her. She is cute and endearing and goes through her role like a seasoned performer. It must be added that Alia has worked beautifully on her dancing and she is grace personified in the dances. She looks very pretty. Pankaj Kapur is extraordinary as Bipin Arora. He adds the right amount of spunk to his role. Sushma Seth is excellent as the strict and foul-mouthed head of the Arora family. Sanjay Kapoor has his moments as the extra-loud Sindhi, Harry Fundwani. Sanah Kapur makes a wonderful debut as Esha Arora. She seems to be a born actor. She gets her expressions very right and her acting belies the fact that this is her maiden film. Vikas Verma does quite well as Robin. Niki Walia lends fair support. Karan Johar, playing himself, is first-rate in the ‘Mehndi With Karan’ sequence. Kamlesh Gill leaves a mark as Jagjinder’s boss. Teena Vellara (as Ria) and Tessa Vellara (as Pia) entertain with their comedy. Sagar Arya makes his presence felt in the role of Vipul Arora. Anjana Sukhani (as Harry’s wife), Chittaranjan Tripathi (as Vinay Arora), Shalini Chandran (as Meetu), Kabir Sajid (as Babla), Ninaz Khodaji (as Indu Arora) and Lucky Farid (as Sunny Arora) are adequate. Naseeruddin Shah’s commentary adds value.

Vikas Bahl’s direction is very fresh. He knows the pulse of the youth and caters to them with a racy narrative style. Another good thing about his direction is that he moves from one mood to another pretty fast. His use of animated characters to move the story forward is excellent. Amit Trivedi’s music is lovely. ‘Gulabo’, ‘Raita phail gaya’ and ‘Shaam shandaar’ are hit songs. ‘Nazdeekiyan’ has melody and the qawwali is enjoyable in its own way, primarily because of the lovely lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya). Lyrics of the other songs (Amitabh Bhattacharya; ‘Gulabo’ song by Anvita Dutt) are very nice. Choreography of the songs, by Bosco and Caesar, is young and simply too eye-catching. The choreography in the old super-hit song, ‘Eena Meena Deeka’, which is picturised on Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, is extraordinary. Amit Trivedi’s background music is nice. Anil Mehta does a very fine job as cinematographer. Amrita Mahal Nakai’s production designing is of a very good standard. Sanchari Das Mollick’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Shaandaar is an entertaining film and will be loved by the youth, especially in the cities. It will emerge amply victorious at the box-office on the strength of youth patronage. Business in the good multiplexes will be excellent but that in the lesser multiplexes and less-maintained single-screen cinemas will be below the mark.