Film Review: 'Shaandaar'
Opened: 22 October 2015
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Pankaj Kapur, Sanjay Kapoor, Sanah Kapoor, Sushma Seth, Shibani Dandekar, Anjana Sukhani
Director: Vikas Bahl
Producers: Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Madhu Mantena, Vikramaditya Motwane
No. Just. NO. I refuse to believe that I was just subject to one of the worst films of the year, especially given it was one of the few I was actually super-keen to watch. When I caught the trailer. I was there. I was sold to this romance. I was sold on Shahid and Alia as a couple. But alas. It was all undone when my reaction post watching the film was:
Revolving around a loud and seemingly boisterous wedding, which is actually a business merger between two stupidly rich families, secretly on the verge of financial ruin, Shaandaar charts the love story between orphaned Alia (Alia Bhatt) and the curiously named Jagjinder Joginder aka JJ (Shahid Kapoor), two insomniacs who's love blossoms against an insanely silly backdrop, at an unknown destination in Europe.
The end result is a cumbersome, confused film that attempts to be a kooky comedy of errors with oddball characters and a Disney-esque fairytale all at once and fails miserably – on both counts.
Seriously. I'm so tired of the trash I've been subject to lately. I can literally count the number of decent films on one hand – that's how bad it's been at the pictures this year. And I'm crushed because I was sure Shaandaar wasn't going to suck. I mean, why would it? A huge chunk of the team was behind one of the best films of last year (Queen), it had the backing of a usually bankable production house (Karan Johar's Dharma), and yet, rather than seamlessly coming together and producing at least a watchable film if nothing else, we get this. A film that falls spectacularly like a pack of cards from its very first scene.
Was it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth I wonder? Was it perhaps a case of small-time ideas man Bahl buckling under the pressure of making a Dharma film and going all out to ensure that virtually everything about the film is a shameless exercise in indulgence?
Whatever the case this sure as hell was NOT the pile of turd I was expecting. And its a shame really. There are a couple of genuine laughs to be had here and it's evident with the sparks of chemistry that both Alia and Shahid ignite, especially in the old-wordly 'Nazdeekiyan', that Shaandaar definitely had the potential to be a cracking love story, had it steered clear of hammy characters and avoided going all Anees Bazmee on us. But it does just that. It's less a film and more a series of disjointed sketches, animations and scenes put together to entice laughter, and it just doesn't work in the way it was intended.
Coming to the film's core performances, Alia, once again, is effortlessly endearing and Shahid too still has that boyish charm about him and together they at least try and infuse some life into this hodge-podge of a screenplay, but their efforts are in vain, as situations go from downright silly to inexplicably banal.
In fact more than the visibly striking lead duo, it's Shahid's sibling Sanah that's the real surprise here, bringing a heartfelt vulnerability about her and successfully conveying her weight related insecurities, while dad Pankaj, although suitably restrained, often looks completely lost and ill at ease, presumably with all the nonsense that's going on around him. Sushma Seth, surprisingly, is insufferable as are Sanjay Kapoor, Nikki Aneja and the other host of gay characters, OMG spurting twins and other random extras and relatives who literally just show up at the wedding and we never really have any idea who they are and what they're doing there. And to be fair, neither do we care after a certain point.
There are the odd silver linings, but these are a given given the names backing the film. The film has a rich look throughout, courtesy Anil Mehta, but that's hardly going to salvage it from falling down the abyss... I mean what was that about not being able to polish a turd?
By and by, you can't help but think that Shaandaar is way more a Dharma film than it is a Vikas Bahl film. Had the director been given more reign would the end result have been radically different? He had Shahid. He had Alia. He had the budget. I guess we'll never know, but after being subject to Shaandaar, part of me wishes I had gotten my hands on a few of those magic mushrooms and space cake that the characters scoff on during a crucial scene just before the mid-point. Luckily for them they were able to carry on with this pathetic excuse of a film stoned, us as an audience on the other hand, weren't quite as lucky.