Shaandaar: A Review

Logic. Reason. Meaning. Fun. All these were traits of a good, fun-filled, family-oriented Hindi movie in the old days. And by old days, I mean up to the early 2000s. Cut to the 2010s and we have Humshakals, Happy New Year, Tees Maar Khan, Joker, and now Shaandaar, a multifarious syndicate of confusion parading as films.

Shaandar_Poster

Better splurge your money in a bar, than buy a ticket for Shaandaar. (image source)

We begin with an animated introduction of how Alia (that’s also her name in the movie), is brought to live with Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapoor) and family that constitutes his evil mother, nagging wife, and sweet daughter, Isha. Why this child is so important to Bipin is a very obvious answer. No surprises when the mystery is solved in the 2nd half of the movie. Presently, Bipin’s sweet (and fat) daughter, Isha, is set to marry an 8-packed douchebag in what is supposedly a lucrative business deal.

We are introduced to Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor), whose funny name is a tribute to his parents. The magic of being Punjabi! Makes you feel bad for having gender-conforming named parents. Jagjinder Joginder is a wedding planner who is in charge of Alia’s fat sister’s wedding. Surprise! He is constantly at loggerheads with Bipin, has a thing for Alia, and adores the fat Isha (because she is his half-sister in real life). He is so fricking attractive that even the evil grandmother has the hots for him. Frankly, I can understand. Shahid Kapoor is a work of art.

Alia is an insomniac and has been raised on a diet of cheesy fairy tales and bananas by Bipin. She shares this trait with Jagjinder and they both bond and camaraderize over it. Hanging out with him causes her insomnia to dwindle and she starts falling asleep, much to the delight of Bipin. By now even I was falling asleep in the theatre. We also have a host of caricatures in the form of Mr. Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor) and family, a stereotypical Sindhi family who wear gold underwears, jackets, coats, and carry gold revolvers. Mr. Fundwani’s penultimate addition of “the” in every sentence definitely didn’t have anyone laughing. This family, like the Arora’s, is trying to get out of bankruptcy with this freak show wedding.

If you haven’t yet slept reading this review, you might have noticed the not-so-subtle references to Isha’s weight everywhere. This is an important plot point in the movie. Since the whole wedding is a business deal, the unhappy groom casually pokes fun at the bride’s weight. There’s a paragraph dedicated to her unsightly weight in a qawwali. After being derided throughout the movie, she finally gets her moment and walks away from the wedding by shedding her inhibitions along with her clothes (excluding a petticoat) at the mandap.

Let me break it down:

The leads: Shahid Kapoor has always been a stunner when it comes to looks. How he manages to look 25 at 34 is beyond my understanding. Alia Bhatt is the simple-minded, “Bollywood cool” girl. Together, they make a really cute, bubbly, and endearing pair better suited to play siblings than a leading pair. Chemistry is zero. There are moments of longing looks, star gazing, and casual conversations, but overall it’s a damp pairing.

Alia_Shahid

Cute but lacking. (image source)

Other characters: The supporting cast is so cliched that there isn’t a single positive note to say about them. Everyone is either loud, obnoxious or weak. The only character that you feel for is Isha, the butt of fat jokes and clearly not her daddy’s favourite. Karan Johar’s cameo was not needed, but it was the funniest part of the movie.

Songs: The songs are as relevant to the narrative as my pimple problems to Shah Rukh Khan. Barring the title song, which has Shahid gyrating effortlessly on the dance floor, none of the others hold your attention.

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Perfection in a not so perfect world. (image source)

When someone says “Black and White Night” you assume that the dress code is black and white. In Shaandaar’s world, it means the colour filter is to be removed from the camera and the sequence is to be shot in grayscale. A bachelorette party is a bunch of androgynously dressed dancers making Isha feel good.

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(image source)

The plot: The plot is like an intelligent sentence uttered by a politician. Wise, well-thought-out, sensible, and non-existent.

The bikini scene: Like every other Bollywood bikini scene, it is unnecessary. Alia Bhatt was fat, lost weight, and can now wear a bikini. Yahoo! The slow motion undressing was so awkward that it made Rahul Gandhi’s interview with Arnab Goswami engaging.

Portrayal of homosexuals: Bollywood hasn’t grown up to the fact that being gay is not about acting like a sissy or being overly (or even remotely) feminine. Gay men are still men. There is no need for them to be put into roles that show them waving their hands all the time or unable to hold a gun upright. It’s insulting and regressive.

In this confusing menagerie, we are left to wonder who or what exactly is this movie about. Is it Alia’s search for her prince? Is it Isha’s liberation from her insecurities? Is it Bipin’s bonding with his daughters? Shandaar is a disjointed mess of scenes and songs masquerading as “India’s first destination wedding film”. Ever since the success of movies such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and Dil Dhadakne Do, movies involving the concept of young (and rich) people travelling to exotic destinations for leisure has risen. The locations are nice and the castle used as the wedding location is mind-blowing. That doesn’t make it a destination wedding. This movie is the best example of a trailer being better than the movie. Boy were we fooled!

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Everyone’s reaction to the movie.

If you found this review confusing and incoherent, it’s because it is a reflection of my brain after watching this movie. Why did Shahid Kapoor agree to participate in this mess after the masterpiece that was Haider is beyond my understanding. Better watch it when it comes on TV or best not watch it at all.

Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

ZNMDMovie: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Year of Release: 2011

Language: Hindi/English

Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, and Kalki Koechlin.

Who doesn’t love to travel? Every one of us dreams of going to some exotic location to get rid of life’s tensions. And what better inspiration to rev up than good ol’ movies. This movie is a reboot of Dil Chahta Hai with an international twist. What’s common between Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? Let us see.

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8 Ways to Succeed in Bollywood

Bollywood is evolving. Not maturing, but evolving. It’s the era of money. If a film makes money it’s good. If not, well…. Critical acclaim be damned, we want entertainment. A movie’s fate is decided in 3 days. There are no silver jubilees, no 100 days. It’s all about 100 crores. The new benchmark of Bollywood. So how do we reach that coveted title? Here are a few tips and tricks to make a profitable Bollywood career.

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Exotic – Pitbull ft. Priyanka Chopra

It’s been a long time since I wrote about a song that I liked (or disliked). I’ve had the chance to discover great songs and enjoy their pleasures (some guilty). I’ve listened to good songs and bad ones and riddikulus (Harry Potter fan you see) ones. There were songs that I listened to for four days straight and those that did not hold my attention even for a few seconds. So when I heard this song, I didn’t know what to say. Finally I do.

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Movie Review: Matrubhoomi – A Nation Without Women

matribhumiMovieMatrubhoomi – A Nation Without Women

Year of Release: 2003

Language: Hindi

Starring: Tulip Joshi and Sushanth Singh.

A few weeks ago at the Cannes Film Festival Mallika Sherawat said something that shook the very foundation of India. She said, “India is a regressive nation to women“. People from all walks and drives of India were livid. “How dare she insult India?” “She’s a has-been. A wannabe”. Blah! blah! blah! “India is the beacon of hope for women where rapes and other horrific crimes against women are passé”. Popular actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra openly expressed her displeasure at Mallika. But what Priyanka and others don’t understand is that Mallika Sherawat had openly stated a fact. Something that neither Miss Worlds Priyanka Chopra or Aishwarya Rai (Indian media’s strong women apparently) have the courage to say.

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The Stereotypical Bollywood Geek

Recently, I had the horrible experience of watching a movie called “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”. It’s about… this girl who likes this guy… and… well… I have no idea. All I saw was a bunch of loony tunes and hamming. Since it’s a Bollywood movie, a mainstream 100 crores movie, it’s obviously crap. What makes it crap is the portrayal of a girl who is supposed to be a geek who turns into a partying, drinky, cleavage-lovey, insufferable bimbo.

Going by Bollywood standards this is what a geek is:

  1. Geeks are supposed to wear glasses to imply their geekitude:
    Yes, Deepika Padukone is an ISP (Indian Standard Pretty) girl. Yes, she has lovely eyes. So the best way to introduce her as a geek is to add glasses to her face. And they should be the 80s thick-frame kind. This will ensure that the pretty girl is indeed a geek.
    DeepikaYJHDGlasses
  2. Geeks are required to carry a book everywhere:
    This is a necessary evil. How else would you distinguish a geek from the cool dudes? And it has to be a book on “Taxonomic Paleontology of the Semi-Surface of Mars” or something important-sounding. Anything less does not qualify as geeky.yjhdmcentral1
  3. Geeks are socially awkward:
    The geek in question must, at all times, behave awkwardly in new surroundings. Any social contact has to include unfunny jokes or uncomfortable silence.
  4. Geeks do not consume any sinful liquids. In other words, geeks don’t drink:
    The geeky girl has to have an aversion to alcohol so that later she can shove a bottle of vodka down her throat to break the geek-mould and become cool.
    Personal note: Whichever idiot suggested that drinking is part of the cool image gets a virtual slap from me.
  5. Geeks must wear grandmother-esque clothes:
    The geek is essentially required to look like Helena Bonham Carter at a red carpet appearance. But since the geek here is a pretty girl she will follow the Bollywood code.

    • She will wear skirts that are short enough to be sexy but long enough to be geeky. She’ll even wear a skirt while hiking.
    • She will wear shorts that are long in no way but short enough to be underwear.
    • She is uncomfortable in a sleeveless but will strip for a song. She’ll wear a sweater over it and cover her arms but will let her long legs be visible.

    Later in the movie, when she becomes cool and hip, she will discard this confusing wardrobe and stick to bras for blouses and shocking low-neck chudidars. Because, according to Bollywood,

    The amount of clothing on a person is INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to their level of coolness.

    Geekzilla

I have friends who do not wear glasses, who do not carry books everywhere, who are not awkward and who wear cool clothes. They are geeks. They read, have fun and enjoy life without having to fit into any category. But they are geeks and some of the best. 

MyGeeks

My kinda geeks.

Geeks don’t have to be the polar opposite of cool. Geeks are intelligent, funny and adventurous while Bollywood still clings on to clichés and refuses to open its mind.

The Downfall Of The “Actor”

Hindi cinema is evolving. But not necessarily for the better. Here actors are not actors; they aren’t even people. They are the manifestations of our dreams. They live the life we want. Their problems are our problems. Their failure is our failure. Today a movie is not about talent or acclaim, it is about creating a spectacle and earn money.

Indian movies are made for the masses. Not for the classes. The more stupid the movie is chances are it has the potential to become a success. And by success I mean it will make a lot of money. A sensible movie is categorized into “Parallel Cinema”. A mindless movie is termed “Blockbuster”. Movies are made to relieve stress not to honour talent. Movies are either remakes of South Indian films (Wanted, Rowdy Rathore, Bodyguard, Singham) or are sequels (Golmaal 2/3, Dabangg 2, Housefull 2). Originality has long been bid adieu.

Cinema employees are broadly classified into two:
Actors:

  • They are knowledgeable about the art of acting.
  • They take on projects that are challenging and different.
  • They wear their characters’ mask and become them.
  • They receive critical acclaim but are denied commercial success.

Stars:

  • They know the producers, directors, distributors etc.
  • They know that the camera thingamajiggy is the one that is pointed at them.
  • They have makeup artists, vanity vans, a person to hold the umbrella during rains, a chair carrier, a person to fan them when their makeup starts drying, 2 assistants, 1 manager etc.
  • They earn a bucket-load of cash for just showing up anywhere.
  • They look the same in 90% of their movies.

What Hindi cinema needs is a makeover, for the better. Movies with a good plot, solid characters and sensible direction need to be encouraged rather than Stars and their brood.