Shehzada movie review: Logic takes a back seat in this loud Kartik Aaryan-starrer

BySonal Pandya
Feb 17, 2023 04:11 PM IST

Shehzada movie review: Kartik Aaryan takes over this loud family drama, with an old-fashioned storyline, that focuses more on its star and keeps logic to a bare minimum.

Shehzada, the Hindi remake of Allu Arjun's Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020), is a complete star vehicle for Kartik Aaryan. The film completely revolves around the actor, even neglecting other characters and storylines in favour of its lead. The actor is convincing enough in this old-fashioned tale of babies switched at birth and a motivation for revenge which exceeds everything. His character Bantu, however, is a charismatic, street smart young man, who rights every wrong that comes his way. (Also read: Shehzada trailer: Kartik Aaryan takes on action and comedy scenes, talks about 'real nepotism'. Watch)

Kartik Aaryan plays Bantu in Rohit Dhawan's Shehzada.
Kartik Aaryan plays Bantu in Rohit Dhawan's Shehzada.

Bantu (Kartik) grows up wondering why his father Valmiki (Paresh Rawal) is not satisfied with anything he does. Valmiki works for the Jindal family and once started out alongside Randeep Nanda (Ronit Bose Roy). Randeep later married the boss' daughter and the rest is history. Valmiki feels left behind and, in a moment of spite, exchanges his son for Randeep's on a rainy night 25 years ago in Delhi.

Both families unknowingly deal with consequences and move on in their staid lives. Until the day, Bantu discovers his true parentage and decides to help his fractured family. Here the film, directed by Rohit Dhawan, becomes a strange mix of Bawarchi (1972) and Mary Poppins (1964), borrowing elements where an outsider comes to fix a family's problems and eventually reunite them all.

The film has its moments especially with dialogues of Hussain Dalal, that both point out the ridiculousness of the plot and lack of logic. One highlight of Shehzada is a special appearance of Rajpal Yadav as a police officer who comes to investigate an attack on Randeep. His exchange with Kartik's Bantu on what's happening with the Jindal family is spot on. The audience might very well be having the same reactions as Rajpal in the film. But the film ignores logic for the sake of the slo-mo action scenes where the hero saves the day once again.

Kartik, who is also a producer here, gets the most footage in Shehzada. He is also surrounded a supporting cast as his real-but-not-real family including grandfather Aditya Jindal (Sachin Khedekar), mother Yasu (Manisha Koirala), uncle Kailash (Ashwin Mushran), and Raj (Ankur Rathee), Valmiki's clueless, underachieving son, who took his place. Kunal Vijaykar is also funny as Jindal's butler Cadbury who dotes on Raj.

Kriti Sanon flits in and out of the film to make an appearance in the songs and occasionally the story, but her character adds nothing to the film. After being introduced to smart lawyer Samara, she has absolutely no role to play once she becomes Bantu's romantic partner. Apart from Manisha, no other female character has any important part. A sister for Bantu is introduced in the first half and never heard from again.

The antagonism in Shehzada comes from Bantu's struggle to find out where he belongs. However, Paresh isn't really portrayed as a 'real' villain, just a frustrated man. His deep-seated desire to see his son succeed and punish the son of his nemesis is played up for laughs. Bantu calls him his 'pichhle janam ka paap (his karma from a previous lifetime)'. The villain's role is instead handed to Sunny Hinduja's Sarang, who becomes a plot contrivance to move the story along, and give the rest of the characters something to bond over.

While I haven't watched the Telugu original, it seems the Hindi film doesn't stray far from the source material. Certain things have been updated for a Hindi audience, but this too remains a hero-driven feature. Shehzada, with its over-the-top production design, and catchy musical numbers by Pritam, is far too loud to leave an impact. At 145 minutes, it isn't exactly boring, but it does lag as it drags out the parentage issue.

But Kartik is in his element aided by scenes where he gets to deliver those potentially viral scenes and walk onscreen as the champion of the hour. While the screenplay and direction by Rohit needed more weight, Shehzada might appeal to those who might prefer an old wine in a new bottle.

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