I’ve never really liked the Bhandarkar brand of films too much: he over generalizes; pushes his characters into stereotyped boxes, and concludes with the typical gloomy and hopeless end. Similar elements are seen in his latest offering ‘Heroine’.
Kareena Kapoor plays Mahi Arora, a highly insecure Bollywood actress suffering from a bipolar personality. Throughout the movie she swings between her need for love and a powerful career, not being able to decide which is more important to her. In a clandestine affair with superstar Aryan Khanna (Arjun Rampal) Mahi is always distraught – clinging on to him, nagging him to commit. When Aryan calls it quits with her, unable to focus on her work, her fame soon starts dwindling.
A short mourning period, new PR agent and image-makeover later – Mahi is back with ‘A-list’ endorsements, big banner films, a full schedule and even an arm candy in the form of the ‘great catch’ cricketer Angad Paul (Randeep Hooda). But this is not enough for the highly-prone-to-depression-Mahi. Frustrated with the male centric, manipulative world she lives in, Mahi makes many ill-advised decisions ultimately leading only to self-destruction and further despair.
While the film had all the ingredients of a trademark Bhandarkar – the rise and fall of a central powerful female protagonist, effeminate gay designers, alcohol and smoking abuse, promiscuity, a sudden death leading to an epiphany – it was certainly not predictable. At every moment you thought that you knew what’s coming next, the impulsive and out-of-control Mahi would take a rash decision drawing genuine gasps from the audience. A few scenes are honestly astounding, perhaps even taken from reality (including Kareena Kapoor’s own life). However, beyond a point the ‘realism’ feels over done, and you’re back to wondering when Bhandarkar will get over pigeonholing.
The acting is at different pitches. While the handful of major characters get it spot on, no focus has been paid to fine-tuning the performance of the very minor roles like the snooping journalists, the yes-men playing devil and angel around Mahi, competitive actresses, and star wives.
Heroine’s main USP – Kareena Kapoor, more than delivers. She sinks her teeth deep into the complex character of Mahi, dominating every frame of the film, and looking like a million dollars through all of it. Arjun Rampal is convincing in the role of a confused, fickle superstar looking for a good time. Randeep Hooda is charming, but under utilized. Worthy performances from Helen, Divya Dutta, Lillete Dubey, Ranvir Shorey, Shahana Goswami and Sanjay Suri ably support the narration.
Prima facie the story has great potential. Somewhere in the middle, Madhur Bhandarkar gets lost — does he want to reveal the gory secrets of the glamorous film industry, or does he want to share the story of a troubled woman who could’ve been in any profession and still led herself to destruction?