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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.