Why Heroine is a let-down

Published: September 27, 2012

Heroine fails to match the glamour and grandeur Kareena naturally brings to the film. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

I must begin by lamenting the fact that I blew off most of the Pakistan versus Bangladesh World T20 match to go watch Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine.

Yes, the emphasis is on Bhandarkar, not lady lovable Kareena Kapoor. I have been a Bhandarkar fan since Page 3 and, with Fashion, he demonstrated to an extent that he was capable of working with bigger names like Priyanka Chopra. However, the director is really just a star of multiplex cinemas and disappoints with Heroine.

When you make a film with a super-duper star like Kareena Kapoor, everything else must also match the glamour and grandeur she naturally brings to the film. Heroine fails to do so. The production value – considering a front face of perhaps Bollywood’s most celebrated female actor of the time – is pretty low. The writing is terrible and the script leaves a lot to be desired, including a real climax.

The film’s aura (thanks to some skillful publicity) was bigger than the film itself ─  something that doesn’t suit Bhandarkar whose previous films have not relied on publicity to become the hits that they are.

Mahi Arora (Kareena) is shown to be a superstar – though I found her only a struggling starlet, not a superstar – who keeps making one after another wrong decision. The pill-popping and alcoholism do nothing to establish her character as a reigning queen, because that is not the way any of the top-tier Bollywood heroines live. Mahi’s heart is in the right place but her mind, of which she doesn’t seem to have enough, is not.

The audiences should thank God that miss straight face Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was replaced by Kareena, who is absolutely fantastic in the film. I can say with certainty that no other female actor could have fit the role and done it as brilliantly as she has. With her harrowing eyes and ghostly white complexion, Kareena is every bit the lost soul in a cruel world that refuses to wait until she finds her feet.

While Kareena was supposed to bring the sex quotient in the film, it is Arjun Rampal who does. He doesn’t do much in terms of acting, but then again when has he ever? However, that’s never bad news for us women. Divya Dutta is great in her role as a shrewd public relations executive and, together with Kareena, adds a lot of colour to an otherwise bland film.

In the film’s defence, it is not a rip-off of Fashion as so many commentators have said pre- and post-film. There may be some glimpses but the films are actually quite different.

For one, Fashion was a lot bolder than Heroine.

In Fashion, Bhandarkar bared it all, but in Heroine, he seems a little more careful about not crossing certain lines. The film, for instance, has a character designed along the lines of cricketer Yuvraj Singh (played well by Randeep Hooda) but has no characters to portray the roles that the three Khans and Karan Johar play in the Indian film industry. A Bollywood film can never be complete without mentioning them as they are undoubtedly the most influential people in the industry.

There are also some great shots as Bhandarkar is very good with symbolism. My favourite part was when Mahi goes to attend the funeral of a senior female actor Shagufta Rizvi (played by Helen), whom she often goes to for solace, and media-men and women descend on her like bloodthirsty hawks. Her white scarf is snatched away and journalists think nothing of walking over it in trying to get a sound bite out of Mahi.

In the end, I will say only this: if you are going to employ the sort of publicity for your film that Karan Johar or Yash Chopra do, you must make sure that your film also has the look and feel of the grand dreamland that they create in their films. Otherwise, it feels like something is amiss and that’s what I felt as I walked out from the cinema after watching Heroine.


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Zainab Imam

A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam (twitter.com/zainabimam) and blogs at gulaabjamun.wordpress.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Aheelam

    Ohkaaaay.the third picture is SCARY!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @author – A good story line/ script would’ve helped but I will watch the movie for Arjun Rampal. That man is just sooo damn hot and sexy. Is he really that bad an actor? Never noticed, i guess i cant see beyond his hotness. ;) ;) Recommend

  • http://www.shafiqpenworks.blogspot.com Shafiq

    @ Author: Let me clarify a few things!
    1 – I am sure you haven’t watched or observed the talent of Urmila Matundkar, who was once, both a sizzling next door girl as well as a brilliant performer. So its not only Kareena who could have done the justice part! Priyanka and Deepika are much better in performances as compared to “Bay Bow”.
    2 – Are you sure a movie fan or even some one who know movies on tips of the actors performed in this movie? Watch Arjun Rampal in “Moksh”, Rajneeti and “Rock On” He is a genuine performer but he is a victim of bad luck! And in this very movie “Heroine” he performed really well!
    3 – Heroine is not all about glamor but the life behind, if you have watched the movie closely the story of HELEN shared the same message! Thats what a critic will look in before criticizing a movie
    4 – You havent mentioned the sequence of a) Ranvir Shorey, b) break up of Randeep Hooda, c) when kareena’s application to adopt a child was rejected and d) the brothel scene!

    Its a pity when people just for sake of writing and showing their command over Cinema write! without knowing the real cinema!

    P.S. I am not a fan of Kareena (at all) but I am a movie buff! and can’t tolerate efforts go unnoticed! It is a well made, nicely executed and full or performance oriented scenes movie! and if you talk about Story! thats mostly not there in most of the box office blockbusters like Rowdy Rathore and Ek Tha Tiger.Recommend

  • Israr

    Ohhh laaa laa laaa the third Picture is so intimidating, Saif better keep a side from that witchRecommend

  • Sahar

    Movie was so average..There is nothing to see otha than Kareena ! She definitely looks HOT !
    Seems like Madhur just changed the names of the characters of Fashion ! Still Paryanka did marvelous job !Recommend

  • Sultan

    Well, I think that the movie was quite different from the one priyanka did some time back “fashion”as it was entitled as. Fashion,I think, was the movie whose storyline was perfect and more realistic. Its story accomodated much more dimensions unlike heroine in which only visible thing is Kareena’s act. One can feel the real sense of glamour and charm of advertisement world in “fashion” but in Heroine the attempt to portray charm of a bollywood star is made in a way which we can term simply as “crap”. Heroine seems to be simmilar with Fashion and thats just becasue of almost the same issue on which these two movies are based, besides this thanks to employent of the same sissy character and name of Brands like “Panache” that gives you the feeling at a point that the movie is almost a copy of Fashion.
    Kareena did well at her part but what can she do when the whole movie is based on immature and weird storyline.? revealing herself, giving some hot scenes and thats it!.
    It was a horrible experience for me to waste my 3 hours in cinema watching such a litter. :(Recommend

  • bhoosi

    Thado thee yaar…Recommend

  • Intelektual

    Its only a spoiler if U go to cinemas’ expecting a sleezy bolloywood expose’ covering all the catfights and Cliche’ casting couches… MB has done that in Page 3 ppl !
    If u go to c a movie Period that is inspired only by reality and is not a remake of Page 3 and Fashion its a good movie and Bebo is outstanding be it the glamour part or the pure depiction of pain disarray and loss she’s spot on in each frame ..
    There no dull moment in the movie except for the ending go with an open mind and u are gonna enjoy it !Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/EduGuides1 EduGuides

    Indian films are a waste of time and full of mindless acting and storylines !!Recommend