'Heroine' review: Commercial Kareena Kapoor's bravest film till date

Shomini Sen

Wronged lead protagonist. Check. Cheating lover. Check. Clinical depression. Check. Manipulative friends. Check. Homosexuality. Check. Rising and then eventually falling and slowly fading in career. Check.

These are the main ingredients of each and every Madhur Bhandarkar film. And ‘Heroine’ is no different really. After giving an insight into the world of Fashion, Page 3 media and Corporate world, Bhandarkar delves into a territory which is perhaps the most familiar to him - Bollywood.

Bhandarkar narrates the story of a shining actress Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) who seems to be slowly losing her sheen all thanks to her personal life and erratic mood swings. Even though Mahi is considered the best in the industry and is the reigning queen of Bollywood who everyone wants to compete with, Mahi seems to be more interested in getting married to her boyfriend, superstar Aryan Khanna (Arjun Rampal). Aryan, meanwhile, is going through a divorce and remains non-committal towards Mahi, which leads to her downfall.

Wronged by the people whom she is most close to, Mahi seeks psychiatric treatment and plans to resurrect her career and her life. While she manages to re build her image, get a new boyfriend (Randeep Hooda), sign some fabulous endorsements and also some films, Mahi realises that to be at the top of the game, she needs to compromise her own morals and ethics and leave behind people who probably care for her the most.

The premise of the film, like every other film of Bhandarkar's, remains the same. Lead protagonist who has negative shades goes through the highs and lows in her life, enjoys a period of success and then goes through a low phase only to reform and rebuild herself as a human being. What Bhandarkar shows is not new to most of us; it is just presented in a snazzy, glamorous way.

The film could easily be written off but for Kareena’s performance. As the bi-polar, erratic, insecure and vulnerable fading star, Kareena gives a superb performance. She looks beautiful, glamorous and makes Mahi her own. In fact, some of the incidents seem to be lifted straight out of Kareena’s life (yes, there is an MMS scandal as well). Kareena, who has for a long time been used as a glamour quotient in Rs 100 crore films, gets a meaty role and gives it her best shot. Some of the scenes in the film, although a bit unnecessary, need courage to be enacted and it comes as a surprise when a hard-core commercial actress like Kareena agrees to do such scenes. And then, does them so convincingly.

Arjun Rampal, as the confused, non-committal, playboy Aryan Khanna, gives a believable performance. It is also refreshing to see Randeep Hooda play a charming cricketer madly in love with Mahi, especially after doing a dark role in ‘Jism2’. The man though, is underused. In fact, Madhur manages to cast some very talented actors like Shahana Goswami, Ranvir Shorey and Sanjay Suri in walk away cameos who ably support the film’s narrative.

The film has a very linear narrative and for the greater part of the first half, one keeps wondering what exactly the plot is. A little bit of editing would also do a lot of good to the otherwise predictable storyline.

Does ‘Heroine’ work? Yes, but only because of Kareena Kapoor. From doing the raunchy act in ‘Halkat Jawaani’ to the scenes where she is battling depression and popping pills, to the I-don’t-care-attitude of a confident actress, Kareena makes Mahi memorable and lovable.

One little request to Mr Bhandarkar; when the next time you use gay characters in your films, please don’t make them so obviously effeminate. All gays aren’t like that. Let's not stick to the stereotypes time and again, please.

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