The perfect storyline to trot out scandals, stereotypes and shockers about the Hindi film industry.
If you’ve seen one — any one — of Madhur Bhandarkar’s films, you know pretty much what you’re in for with Heroine. It’s the Madhur Bhandarkar formula: pick a subject, research it substantially, make your lead character a composite of various known figures in that particular field, throw in a pastiche of recognisable incidents or popular clichés that will provide the audience easy reference points, plant actors in supporting roles to provide a foil or catty commentary and, of course, have a gay scene or character.
Bhandarkar is not a director whose approach is layered or nuanced; his style is direct, linear storytelling. It is one of the reasons he is a successful commercial director. In many ways he feeds popular perceptions of the area he is dealing with (models lead wild lifestyles; all bar dancers are forced into the business), allowing his audience to indulge in much self-congratulation: “Yes, I always knew it!”
So expect to see replays of recent scandals and controversies or apocryphal tales from Bollywood. Safe to say that there are going to be some dramatically overwrought, heightened scenes in the movie.
However, Bhandarkar’s filmmaking has an unpretentious realism that compensates for the somewhat facile stereotyping that is his trademark. Plus, he usually chooses his heroines well and manages to extract good performances from them. Cases in point are Priyanka Chopra and Konkona Sen, who lent their characters in Fashion and Page 3 respectively a dignity beyond the script.
For Heroine, he has chosen Kareena Kapoor (okay, let’s not get into that Aishwarya Rai fiasco here) to play Mahi Arora, an actress who has scaled the peak but is now going downhill. Arjun Rampal plays a superstar; Randeep Hooda, a cricketer — you can join the dots. Sounds like the perfect storyline for trotting out scandals, stereotypes and shockers about the Hindi film industry. It’s a part that any actress would grab and Kareena has been all over the place declaring that she has thrown herself into this role.
Both she and Madhur Bhandarkar have pulled out the stops for Heroine. It could be over-the-top in parts, and it will be no Sunset Boulevard, but it will give you glimpses of the seriously murky side of the industry that Luck by Chance didn’t. And c’mon, this is one you gotta see if you’re a Bollywood buff.
Bottomline: Expect a rehashing of recent controversies and apocryphal tales from Bollywood.
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Helen
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Releases: September 21