Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Pankaj Kapur, Sanah Kapoor, Vikas Verma, Sanjay Kapoor
Director: Vikas Bahl
Director Vikas Bahl’s Shaandaar--promoted as India’s first destination wedding film--relies more on the youthful appeal of its lead actors than a tight screenplay. Sometimes, it pretends to raise an issue, but then shies away from dealing with it. Let me introduce you to the basic premise of the film which mistakes Sindhis for a community of money minded devils.
Vipin Arora (Pankaj Kapur) and his family live obliged to Mummy Jee (Sushma Seth), a matriarch whose shot is always at the money. Mummy Jee is the second name of cunningness and she has no qualms about it. She wants to marry Vipin’s daughter Isha (Sanah Kapoor) off to a wealthy Sindhi family, headed by Harry Fandwani (Sanjay Kapoor).
The other part of the story features Vipin’s second daughter Alia (Alia Bhatt) and the charismatic wedding planner Jagjinder Joginder (JJ, Shahid Kapoor). What binds all these characters together is the place where Isha’s grand wedding is planned. However, not everything goes as per the planning and the same place becomes a battle ground.
A long prologue coupled with an animation sequence marks the opening of Shaandaar, and within minutes we’re introduced to the primary characters. However, the story starts going wayward once the premise is set. More than a business tycoon, Sushma Seth looks like a conniving mother-in-law. She is the most caricatured character of the film. This might be the point, but it dilutes the seriousness of the intra-familial conflicts.
The Fandvanis, Arora’s counterpart, are no different either. They travel in golden limousines, wear golden clothes and flash gold plated guns. And, yes, they think Prince Charles is a Sindhi because ‘he still lives with his mother’. They also believe that Michael Jackson was a Sindhi because ‘Wo kapde khareed ke fir unse chote-chote kapde banata hai.’
Watch: Shaandaar review
As if mindless Sindhi jokes were not enough, we’re told that this family is so unique that they celebrate the occasion with caviar on omelette. This happens when they have a breakfast rehearsal.
Long sequences have been planned to showcase the relationship between characters, but they become tedious after a while. The first heart-to-heart conversation between Alia and Shahid appears forced. During one of these conversations, Shahid thinks about his childhood and Alia understands his thoughts. Later, she says, “Abhi dekha na flashback me.” This may work as a smart one-liner, but this also puts the audience at a distance.
Though things happen at a good pace, but the emphasis on presenting everything in a ‘light’ manner doesn’t help the cause Bahl wants to promote. In fact, the stand against fat-shaming is the highlight of the film, but the arguments around it are flawed. On one hand, you make fun of an overweight character when she eats pie or cake. On the other, you prompt her to make a statement by eating a doughnut while someone says, “Weight ka kya hai, work-out se kam ho jayega.” Just make sure what you want. Do you want to accept a person with all her flaws or you want her to change in an ‘ideal’ way. But, all said and done, Shaandaar still tries to be a message-oriented film and it adds immense value to an otherwise haywire storyline.
The writers have tried to build-up a good climax, but the story is so predictable and the pressure to sound ‘funny’ is so much that they lose control. The song ‘Rayta fail gaya’ takes place on screen right at this moment. Did I hear the word ‘ironic’?
Watch: Shahid, Alia in Shaandaar title song
Shahid Kapoor is at ease throughout the film. He is the one to watch out for in Shaandaar, but even his inner dilemma surfaces when two consecutive scenes demand him to behave in completely opposite ways. The writers should be blamed for such a character graph.
The brat act by Alia fails to impress as there is no depth in her character either. However, Sanah Kapoor looks promising in some scenes. Pankaj Kapur tries to cash in on the curiosity around father-son duo, but all attempts fall short of the objective.
Watch: Shaandaar trailer
Amit Trivedi’s soulful music breaks monotony at times, but how much can you expect from songs?
Shaandaar tries very hard but it’s not funny. It has moments which will give a glimpse of Vikas Bahl’s talent. It has star power and that is its biggest draw. But not much is shining in Shaandaar.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/ @nawabjha)