An image consultant tells a failing film star almost derisively that she has nothing about her that can be sold to the media: no relationship and no career. What she needs now is a sensational controversy. This belief pretty much sums up Heroine or any Madhur Bhandarkar film. Heroine is a series of sensational and controversial, high strung moments, presumably, from various actresses’ real lives, stringed together, as unimaginative, as the film title.
Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) is introduced by a journalist as a bipolar, overemotional and impulsive -traits considered a must for a successful heroine. Every time someone mentions a rival’s success or her married and separated boyfriend’s non committal behaviour, she reaches out for a cigarette, or a drink or a pill. Her clingy, obsessive behaviour and erratic tantrums gets her unceremoniously pushed out of Aryan Khanna’s (Arjun Rampal) car. Realising she has fallen, literally, she tries to pick up her dignity and her career.
She hires an image consultant (Divya Dutta) who tells her that she has a confused image: neither a wild child nor conventional. The problem with the story begins here. Within seconds, Mahi comes out of her relationship trauma and emerges a confident woman who takes charge of her life.
Another journey begins with her learning manipulative tactics of using her next relationship to further her career. The real story of the life of a film heroine begins now, post interval and gets interesting. However, again like the first half, unnecessary scenes and caricature characters make this ‘filmy’ story more ‘filmy’ and flimsy, getting it’s by now over familiar Madhur Bhandarkar touch.
Be it Chandni Bar or Page 3 or Fashion or Heroine, Bhandarkar’s story is gripping and sensational but at the same time clichéd and stereotypical. Heroine is overcrowded with Page 3(movie) parties, Fashion (movie)characters(rival women, gay designers, affair with married men).Some deliberate shockers straight from Oscar winning Black Swan(2 women who bust their performance stress with drinks, drugs and sex),make the whole movie experience unnecessarily overwhelming and unintentionally funny.
With a dramatic story and screenplay (Madhur,Anuradha Tiwari,Manoj Tyagi) and additional screenplay/dialogues (Niranjan Iyengar), Heroine has a really good base on which it could have been developed. The journey of a woman unsuccessfully trying to balance a difficult relationship and a ruthless career is an interesting premise. The ending as in most Bahandarkar movies is sufficiently shocking. Especially good moments are brought out in the heroine’s quiet bonding with her manager(Govind Namdeo) and her vulnerability manipulated by PR and the press. The very concept of portraying the real struggle of an actress after success has a lot of promise, unfortunately dealt with over clichéd treatment.
Kareena displays surprising sincerity(including no makeup when required) which gets marred by overacting occasionally. She performs particularly well in one scene when she stands in front of a mirror, insecure, nervously pushing back her hair and asks Divya and Namdeo, ”kya main ek achchi actress hoon?”,realising that it is not enough just to be a star. Divya Dutta and Govind Namdeo are great in their supporting roles. Arjun Rampal is okay as a non committal but sincere lover. Randeep Hooda is not as convincing as a cricketer besotted with the heroine.
The director’s tacky work is reflected in below average cinematography, sound, music ,lyrics and sloppy edit. So much so that ,all these elements end up taking away from the story and performances and give the end product a very unpolished look and feel.
All in all, Heroine is a typical Madhur Bhandarkar over the top take, at how lonely it is at the top. If Kareena’s character is a drama queen, this film is a drama king.