Right. Now, if only someone could explain to me what I was doing for the better part of three hours and what, therefore, Vikas Bahl has been doing for the last few months, I would be infinitely grateful. After ‘Queen’ the bar has been set rather high for this director and, while I would be the first to say that it is unkind to place undue expectations on anybody, ‘Shaandaar’ is so nonsensical that it boggles the imagination to think that Vikas Bahl had anything to do with this fatuous offering.
Insofar as the story is concerned, the movie lost the plot a long time ago – if ever it had a handle on it, that is! ‘Shaandaar’ begins with a narration by Naseeruddin Shah, against which animated characters do their thing, much like we saw in ‘Hum Tum’ earlier. Apparently there is to be a shaandaar wedding in the Arora family and so Mummyji (Sushma Seth) son Bipin (Pankaj Kapur) wife Geetu (Nikki Aneja Walia) daughters Alia (Alia Bhatt) Esha (newcomer Sana Kapoor) and the assorted clan set off for parts unknown – I’m guessing this is somewhere in the UK simply because of the architectural style of the mansion – where they are joined by the boy’s side, the Fundwanis, Harry (Sanjay Kapoor) his brother Robin (newcomer Vikas Verma) and the rest of this glittery family that likes to dress up in the colour gold. Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapur) is – hold your breath – the wedding organiser for this shenanigan. Ashok the frog (Yes! Really!) plays a stellar role too.
Into this optimistic potboiler, director Bahl has bunged in so many halfhearted angles that the movie runs in circles around itself like a headless chicken. The lead pair, Jagjinder Joginder and Alia are both insomniacs. JJ’s parents go missing in a riot – presumably in Punjab, since he is supposed to be a sardar, although I’m taking a wild guess again here! Alia is supposed to be an adopted orphan, with Mummyji and Geetu both playing the wicked whatevers, although subsequently we’re informed of yet another twist where naughty Bipin had an affair and got the lady preggers and so, being indeed, the real pops, got the kiddo home; the preggy lady either legged it over the high hills or kicked the bucket, we dunno. Robin, the groom, is this vacuous eight-and-a-half pack dude, but his bride Esha is rather generously built with choli buttons popping all over the place and so enter Bahl the feminist as we, the audience, are told time and time again how big is beautiful and here to stay; the pseudo qawwali ‘Senti waali mental’ crudely brings home this point. Has Bahl left out any other politically correct cliches? Oh yes – Vipul chachu is gay!
Incidentally, since when do wedding organisers provide personal entertainment to their clients in the form of song-and-dance routines?? Since ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ obviously! Also, in spite of the ostentatious mansion, JJ is clearly sleeping in the stables, since we can see the peeling paint on the walls! Tsk, tsk. Detailing, detailing! And the female lead is wearing black at an Indian wedding! Aila! Did Karan Johar (one of the producers) have a fall-out with best buddy designer Manish Malhotra?!
Some of the shots seen in the promotional trailer are superfluous in the movie itself, such as the skydiving scene, or the “tumne kabhi kiya nahin hai kya?” Fevicol scene, or the night bathing – spectacular night shot with the full moon, waterfall et al (was this a cleverly constructed set?) but the scene itself is boring. There is an absolutely inane moment when both wedding parties eat hallucination-inducing brownies and mushrooms because this was the only “vegetarian” food around because today is Tuesday (there, I knew I was forgetting another of Bahl’s dratted angles!) Oh please, shoot me already! Like anybody really eats raw mushrooms anyway!
‘Shaandaar’ seems almost a Kapur family sitcom, as Shahid is pitted against real-life papa Pankaj and step-sister Sana (daughter of Pankaj and Supriya Pathak) who has done a commendable job in her debut, and let’s not forget Naseeruddin Shah, who is an uncle by way of being married to Ratna, Supriya’s sister.
It is obvious that there is a camaraderie between Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapur, but ze zing factor, there is none. He appears protective and teasing rather than romantic, about her. It used to be a pleasure to watch Sushma Seth but she has not aged kindly. She looks like a caricature and her speech delivery too is slightly indistinct. Sanjay Kapoor surprisingly delivered a competent performance; his Sindhi-isms were spot on, with his “Vhaat” and “Rawbin.” As he grows older, he looks more than ever like elder brother Anil Kapoor, especially with the moustachioed look. Alia looks hot in the hot pink bikini, but clearly most of the other scenes were shot before she had time to tone her body, as you can see the plump thighs in the dance steps. Karan Johar makes a surprise guest appearance, ho hum.
‘Shaandaar’ rests completely on Shahid Kapur’s shoulders and, to his credit, he has performed with unmitigated sincerity and dedication, although of course he is not able to save the movie from a quick death since the director was bent on harakiri. He is looking very trim; the new hairstyle suits him to a T; he looks great in formals like shirt, trousers and tie and he is an extremely fluid dancer which choreographer Bosco has tried to do justice to – it was a real pleasure to watch him in the title song ‘Shaandaar’ – but, more than anything else, he had the easy confidence throughout the movie of knowing that he is looking good.
The movie is produced by Phantom Films and Karan Johar. As dialogue writer, Anvita Dutt had some funny lines in, e.g. “Bahar Nana Patekar andar Amol Palekar!” or the “PP” (pairi pauna) but could not sustain the pace; the credit goes more to Shahid for his style of delivery. With ace veteran Anil Mehta behind the lens, there aren’t many complaints about the cinematography. Mukesh Chhabra did a good job with casting. Except for the title song and ‘Nazdeekiyan’ the music (Amit Trivedi) is nothing home to write about while the lyrics are quite puerile for the rest of the songs: Raita phail gaya? Like, really, dude?? Editing by Sanchari Das Mollick was way off the radar. Story – such as it is – is credited to Vikas Bahl and Chaitally Parmar.
*This review is written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India.