Acid test for Kareena's stardomMadhur Bhandarkar dabbles with blacks and whites in 'Heroine', as usual his protagonists are a study in the extreme and therefore, there is very little scope for anything unpredictable. Bhandarkar's so-called 'realistic' portrayal of the Hindi film industry blatantly stereotypes Bollywood.
Raja Sen says in his review that "Heroine is an unbelievably trashy film":
It's called stereotyping, and Madhur Bhandarkar has parlayed it into a career. Film after film he embraces cliches -- about businessmen, models, journalists -- and exaggerates them, revelling in caricature and tacky dialogue. It's like a recreated dramatisation on a sensationalist television crime show, with marginally better actors and production values.
It's almost like Bhandarkar enjoys sensationalizing his plot and 'labelling' is characters to a point where they start looking like caricatures. Baradwaj Rangan says in his review:
Acknowledging the positive dimensions of fame would leave Bhandarkar with nothing to expend his moral outrage on. (And I have to wonder if that well isn't running dry. After all these films, all these fulminations against the seedier side-streets of our society, how much more moral outrage can one man still possibly have?) And so we have the saga of poor Mahi, who, early on, struts about in gold and silver costumes in front of a giant illuminated sign that spells out the film's title. The way the song is shot and the music in the background suggest the brassy numbers that open a 007 movie — and Mahi is her own Bond girl, surrounded by a heaving mass of men. Life, unfortunately, gives her the gold finger. After her stock plummets, a film journalist, appearing and disappearing on whim, begins to narrate Mahi's sad story, calling her a bunch of unflattering things ("moody," "impulsive") and then admitting that journalists like easy labelling. (Bhandarkar, of course, is so filled with nobility of purpose, rolling up his sleeves and showing us the maggots crawling underneath his beautiful corpses, that he completely misses the irony about what a compulsive labeller he is.)
Rajeev Masand writes in his review that 'Heroine' is "melodramatic, boring and sloppy" and there are some instances that are plain ridiculous:
From the very start of Heroine, a sense of gloom and doom haunts this film. Mahi is perpetually in pieces, her eyes red-rimmed with tears or dazed by alcohol and drugs. There is an attempt to infuse some heart in the script when she forms an unlikely bond with a yesteryear star (Helen), or when she shares a tentative friendship with a Bengali art-house actress (Shahana Goswami, flashing enough cleavage to blind you!). But even this track ends up being unintentionally hilarious, when the two girls avoid each other awkwardly the morning after some inebriated 'fooling around'. "I'm not a lesbian," says Shahana, apologizing for what must be the worst crime in Madhur Bhandarkar's book — being gay! In another instance that'll have you rolling in your seats, Mugdha Godse, playing a top actress desperate to steal an endorsement deal from a rival star, asks her male model friend to sidle up to the "bisexual" corporate honcho in charge of the account.
This may not become Kareena's National Award winning film but she definitely tried her best. Anupama Chopra points out the evident shortcoming:
Kareena Kapoor works very hard to give Mahi depth. She looks sensational, but is also brave enough to risk being ugly on screen, literally and figuratively. Sadly, Bhandarkar has saddled her with a character without an arc. Mahi is just a trembling mass of furiously smoking insecurity from beginning to end. And she's just not interesting enough for us to spend two and a half hours with. At one point in Heroine, a character asks: Iss glamour industry mein kaun fraud nahin hota. This film certainly is one.
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