Chandigarh based Vijendra Trighatia is a film buff and writes extensively on cinema.
One day Madhur Bhandarkar decided to make another movie. He racked his brain for a new story and after numerous ideas he decided on something new. The title of the movie-Heroine ! There must be some law in place which prevents you from naming a new movie with the same one you made a few years ago. And since this enormous effort of discovering a new title had already extracted the last vestige of original thought in his brain he decided to bring out the scripts of Page 3, Corporate and Fashion from his closet and gave them all to his “Bai” with the brief that in the time it takes for her to brew a cup of tea she will have to come up with a new script or else she will have to look for a new job. Please appreciate that those were the hard “policy paralysis” times and Manmohan Singh had not yet worn his reform crusader cloak to save this country from ruin. The US was going slow on outsourcing jobs and services to third world countries, read India, and the “Bais” were finding it hard to make ends meet. Desperate times need desperate solutions. Thus Heroine was born and a job saved. What the mentally exhausted director and writer (?) hadn’t accounted for was that the Bai was also an avid follower of Bollywood gossip and borrowing heavily from her sneak peeks into the tabloids she incorporated every juicy tidbit that she could remember into the new script. Hence in about five minutes flat the tea was brewed and the “Bai” delivered, a story you sensation seekers!
For an inexperienced Bai it may be a tremendous effort but for an experienced film maker it is a slap in the face. The film suffers from fatigue. You have the same neurotic, ambition driven characters whose search for God knows what makes them do strange stuff. I had always thought that the pill popping and alcohol soaking individuals ceased to exist after the Harold Robbins novels albeit with some notable Hollywood exceptions. You also have the same scheming men and women with their saccharine smiles and plastic features constantly trying to manipulate each other. With a few doses of sex and a hinted lesbian romp we are supposed to stand up and applaud the great travails of a slipping superstar although at no stage is it clear when she rose and fell from grace. I had to wait for about forty minutes before the story graduated from the prologue onto to the next level. Page 3 was a ground breaker and although it looked and sounded like a gossip magazine, which it was supposed to, it had its moments of quirky humor. No such luck here. It’s flat, monotonous and a rank bad effort.
The only good thing that happened to the film is Kareena. Playing a high strung I-want-it-all movie star she has given a creditable account of her histrionic skills. The weakness of course is that too much emphasis is laid on her reliance on drugs and booze to combat her insecurities rather than the under played war game that ought to have been the buzz word for her resurrection. It looked all too clichéd and Kareena, for all her talent, tries way too hard. It’s amazing how the television media is playing that up as her ultimate obsession. No doubt it is a promotional ploy but it sickens me to see how these guys are trying so hard to sell something which obviously stinks. They must believe that we are a bunch of idiots to lap up this piece of nonsense.
Unfortunately economics takes precedence over art. Hordes of people, me included, go to the movie halls on the basis of its curiosity value alone and it has already had a decent opening. Music and satellite rights must have been sold at a premium and at the end of the day it will be declared a commercial success. Wait for some rigged award function where everyone, saccharine smiles and all, will back slap each other and in between some listless performances declare the movie as a Bollywood classic. That would be the ultimate insult to the common movie goer.