Shaandaar review: Even Alia, Shahid and the Kapurs can't save this boring movie
Once upon a Sleeping Beauty time, there was a princess. She slept for a hundred long years. One day a handsome prince rode into her dreams and her non-existent life. He kissed her. She woke up. The two lived happily ever after.
Once upon a Hum Aapke Hain Kaun time, there was a good boy called Prem and a good girl called Nisha. The girl danced in a ghastly purple saree. The boy aimed a slingshot at her big derriere. She blushed, he laughed. The Sooraj Barjatya brand of filmmaking lived happily ever after, with the audience in love with wedding home videos
Now it’s the time of Shaandaar love story days. No, we are not talking of achche din, but of sleepless nights. There is a wedding in the pipeline. Before that, there is a princess who cannot sleep. It’s a world where Barjatya’s wedding scores meet the fairy tale world of animated frogs.
The princess is an orphaned child, Alia (Alia Bhatt), who has been adopted by a kind man, Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapur). He lives in a palace with a beautiful, but bossy, rich queen (Niki Aneja, in a welcome appearance) and an overweight and sweet daughter, Isha (Sanah Kapoor, Pankaj Kapoor’s daughter). The adopted princess cannot sleep. The kind father gifts her a box of dreams and hopes she will meet a prince who will put her to sleep.
As in all fairy tales, there is a witch. She is a wheelchair-bound powerful naani, who lives in a castle in some unknown country. Her witchy and bitchy behavior extends to a simple word against the adopted Alia:"Anaath".
The wicked witches in the good old fairy tales were far more delightfully original in their evil acts. Who would have thought that one day, they would be sorely missed and a clichéd actress like Sushma Seth would play the mercenary granny? The granny fixes Isha’s wedding with a rich Sindhi family to rescue themselves from bankruptcy. Seth, however, is actually better at making eyes at Jagjinder Joginder aka JJ (Shahid Kapoor) to the soundtrack of “who’s this hottie?”
Oh yes, who is he indeed? It’s clear that the hottie prince or wedding planner pauper—an insomniac himself--- is there to put the sleepless beauty to sleep. But beyond that, Kapoor has little to do. It’s quite commendable therefore, that he grins and bears the non-role with style and verve after the heavy duty Haider. So, when Alia sits on his lap, he does not whisper sweet nothings. Instead he feeds her muffins and talks about his mom… ZZZZZZZZZ….. Little wonder Alia falls asleep.
Somewhere between the prince and the princess, the modern fairy tale moves into confused wedding sequences revolving around Alia’s sweet sister, Isha. Isha’s groom dances his way in, bare chested, with a gold jacket, to show off his 8-and-a-half pack abs. His Sindhi, flamboyant dad, Fandwani (Sanjay Kapoor) does a terrific replay of Taal’s mad Anil Kapoor, armed with a gold gun and a line: "This is the crazy.."
Director Vikas Bahl takes entertaining potshots at Sindhis and flashy Indian weddings, but loses the plot mid-way. The rather clichéd story gets repetitive and childish. Alia and JJ’s romance ends up about playing cutesy hide-and-seek and dancing to a recreated peppy version of the classic “Eena Meena Deeka”. Bhatt’s hot pink bikini act does little to keep you engaged any further.
The film flits from amateurish caricatures of animated cartoons to a black-and-white ballroom romance. Screenplay and dialogue writer, Anvita Dutt’s spoofs on the “like totally” Gen X that is restless, sleepless and clueless, sparkle at times. But it amounts to popcorn fluff and little else.
It is left to the doting daddy and adorable sister to rescue the screenplay. Senior Kapur adeptly switches from the comic dad sparring with Junior Kapoor, to the emotional father who wants to give Alia a dream life. His exchanges with Bhatt are more impactful than those with Shahid, purely because of Alia’s perfect and true to character reactions.
However, the scene-stealer is Sanah, who has exactly three major scenes. But they’re enough to make you root for her as the overweight bride ridiculed by the groom. She plays the sacrificial daughter without doing a heavy Meena Kumari. This could easily have been her story and called Dum Laga ke Haisha Part 2.
Energetic shenanigans and some nice, comic lines make Shaandaar watchable fare only till the interval. The rest is entirely forgettable, unlike Bahl’s memorable Queen.