Bollywood Movie Review: HEROINE (2012)
I love Madhur Bhandarkar movies. Despite criticism that his ‘realistic’ films always have a lot of melodrama, I find his films are able to blend the ‘realism’ elements along with the necessary dramatization of a story. He does this again with the controversial HEROINE. Here is my Movie Review…
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Very simply put, HEROINE is about the career of an aspiring actress in the Bollywood Film Industry. The subject matter creates immense opportunities for the makers to portray a lot of inside Industry truths, or exaggerated ones at least. HEROINE is completely a Kareena Kapoor movie. I slowly started accepting Kapoor as a serious actress over the years, because she has genuinely improved.
The first few scenes of HEROINE though, made me relive all the reasons I disliked her, and I was ready to write off this film. However, my mind completely changed, when I realized that her immature and shoddy acting in the 1st few scenes, were meant to reflect her character’s naiveté and immaturity in the industry itself as an actress. Something similar to Kapoor’s own experiences in Bollywood. Kareena Kapoor steadily amps up her performance as her character grows through the film into a more polished and professional actress who knows how to play the game to ‘make it’ in the cutthroat Bollywood world.
HEROINE is kind of a conundrum. I applaud Bhandarkar’s efforts, however, it’s a mixed bag of clichés and hard-hitting emotional cinema. It’s difficult to truly appreciate the film, given its many instances of complete and utter generalizations and stereotypes. Vacuous stars, career ambitions being fulfilled by sexual favors, portrayals of homosexuality don’t really ring true. Granted I don’t know if that is actually how it is in the real world, however it comes off forced and fake in the film.
The story revolves around the rise and fame of Kapoor’s Mahi Aurora, a budding new actress who rises to fame due to more of her personal relationship with an A-List actor, than any actual talent on her part. The progression of the story is really what makes one like HEROINE, because it truly covers all the bases that a Bollywood actress may go through.
Mahi’s realization that her fame is due to her being a ‘star’ and not an ‘actress’ comes off as being brutally honest. Especially when you consider that being famous and in the headlines, are grounds alone to get someone a movie deal in real life Bollywood these days, not on basis of merits. HEROINE showcases this through the lead character of Mahi doing everything she can to be in the spotlight as an actress, and actually doing a film is the last concern in her career.
Kapoor excels in this role, as I suspect it in some ways mirrors her own career. At one point in the story, Mahi, wanting to be considered a serious actress, ends up taking a role with an art film Director in a low budget movie about a prostitute. This is suspiciously similar to Kapoor herself doing something similar when she took on the role of a prostitute in CHAMELI after doing various commercially mainstream studio backed films that flopped.
HEROINE is amazing mostly due to the realism shown about the career path that young actresses in Bollywood may sometimes take. The performances in the film are superb, despite the character not being fully fleshed out. Kareena carries the film completely on her shoulders, even with all the highs and lows in her performance through out. Arjun Rumple is always amazing as the A lister with Mahi. Randeep Hooda is always a pleasure to watch on screen, this time as the doting 2nd boyfriend of Mahi and part of the cricket team. I have to say that Hooda is one of few men who can cry on screen and still retain his masculinity, while getting dumped!
Madhur Bhandarker does an amazing job with HEROINE, and its low performance at the Box Office could be due to some of the stark truths it portrays of the Industry that the film itself hails from. The ending did spark a lot of controversy, however, the emotional progression of the story and the character made sense, and it was not at all out of place in the film.
HEROINE is a gripping story, and despite some bumps, features an amazing performance by Kareena Kapoor, with some unconventional plot points that may have been uncomfortable for the general audiences to accept.