I start with the SHER (Urdu couplet) of Janaab Asar Lakhnavi Saheb – ‘Bahaana Mil Na Jaaye Bijliyon Ko Toot Padne Ka, Kaleja Kaampta Hai Aashiyaan Ko Aashiyaan Kehte’ (I feel scared to call my home a home lest the lightnings should get an excuse through that to fall upon it), in other words I am scared to lose my happiness (whatsoever is with me). This is what this film’s main protagonist – Maahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) asserts in a scene. And that, in a way, sums up the story of Heroine (2012).As the title indicates, this is the story of a Bollywood heroine (in fact a collection of some episodes from her life and career). People keep on coming in and going out of her life and she finally ends up running away from the arc-lights and the sounds like Light, Camera, Action, Cut etc., i.e., instead of being a crowd-puller, feels better being a part of the crowd. She is indecisive or confused as to what she actually wants from her life – a successful career or a love-filled life with the man of her choice. And as a Hindi maxim tells – Duvidha Mein Dono Gaye, Maaya Milee Na Raam (in the condition of being in a fix, the person may get neither God nor wealth), she finally gets none of them.
The way every coin has two sides, the same way every world or field has two altogether different sides – one bright one and one dark one. And the so-called realistic filmmaker – Madhur Bhandarkar has typed himself as a filmmaker concentrating on the dark side only of the field he is dealing with in his movie. The problem is that he always takes his audience for granted and wants it to believe whatever he shows as true. He has rendered a sense of deja vu to the audience by revisiting Page 3 (2005) and Fashion (2008) in this movie. The way Fashion was an incomplete picture of the fashion-world, the same way Heroine is an incomplete picture of the cine-world. Unlike Zoya Akhtar’s highly realistic movie – Luck By Chance (2009), Madhur Bhandarkar has not shown any strugglers or acting lessons or a sincerity towards the profession. Instead he has chosen to show only the successful heroes & heroines and their activities involving mud-slinging, leg-pulling, scores-settling and dirty politics. And just like Fashion, he has shown smoking, drinking, drug-consumption, unsocial behaviour in the parties and casual sex (both heterosexual and homosexual). Is this all the film industry contains ? Is this the only scenario of a heroine’s life ? After spending more than a decade in the film industry, do Madhur Bhandarkar and Kareena Kapoor want to tell the world that this is what they experience in this line ? Madhur Bhandarkar has shown that hype is everything and bad publicity is also considered as commercially beneficial. Well, this applies to this overhyped film itself.In the beginning sequence of Subhash Ghai’s Pardes (1997), Amrish Puri says to a Westerner, ‘In your country, love means Lena-Dena, i.e., give and take whereas in India, love means Dena Dena Dena, i.e., give give give. However Madhur Bhandarkar has shown that in this industry (which he himself is a part of), there is only give and take. Every talk, every gesture, every emotion, every relationship is artificial and motivated by self-interest. Well, he and Kareena Kapoor know better.Chums and dress-designers hovering around heroines are shown as speaking and behaving quite theatrically. Every female smokes. Every heroine is addressed by the talking person as ‘babes’ or ‘baby’. Partisan media persons believe in settling their scores with the stars. Heroes’ possessive wives decide the heroines of their movies. Heroes do editing themselves, cutting the roles of those who do not come to their terms. Heroines devote more time to backbiting (or bitching) their contemporaries. Well, at least this is one fact which is confirmed through Kareena Kapoor’s own life because she used to do it with her rival heroines till a few years back. For the rest, I am not sure to be fully true. All the same, how can I challenge the perception of Madhur and Kareena of their own line of work ?The hard-hitting dialogs serve Madhur’s purpose best. In one dialog, the ruthless PRO (Divya Dutta) of the heroine says that in the film-line, if you utter a lie with confidence, people consider it as truth. And in another scene, one party-woman says to her talking companion that who is not a fraud in this film industry. Well Madhur, do you say the same about yourself too ? The movie leaves such an impression only.
Technically, the movie is good. Music is in line with the mood of the movie. Though engrossing, the movie appears to be too long and the director seems to have attempted to cover as many facets of the cine-world, as possible which has, after a point, made the movie as burdensome. It has got reduced to a collection of some good and some bad sentences instead of getting the shape of a well-written impressive article.
Performances are all good. Even those who have been forced by the director to go over the top, have not disappointed. Kareena Kapoor has taken her heart out to invest in this movie and this movie seems to be a take on the real life and career of this aging actress. All others have done well. Special praise is deserved by Divya Dutta as the PRO and Helen as the heroine of the yesteryears. In addition to the entertainment value, it’s the performances and the track of Helen which can be considered as the pluses of this movie. Madhur Bhandarkar’s realism seems to be a different name for tried and tested entertainment only.
The biggest thing that the movie subtly conveys is the dictum which I learnt quite late in my life – ‘When you chase things, they run away’. When the ‘heroine’ in the movie chases love, love runs away from her and when she chases success in career, success runs away from her and all of her efforts prove to be counter-productive only in the end. Hence the great lesson rendered by default, is never to run after anything. Let it go after a point.
Finally, I conclude my review with a dialog of the PRO to the heroine in a scene – ‘Either you manipulate others to your benefit or get ready to be manipulated yourself’. Madhur Bhandarkar seems to have grasped the essence of this dialog and through this movie he has manipulated.
The audience !
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