Truth be told: I have been waiting for Shaandaar’s release because I loved its director Vikas Bahl’s last outing, Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen, very much. That apart, it has been a while I have watched a love story that I fell in love with. With Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor looking adorable in the promos, the movie held the promise of tugging at my heartstrings.
So, I did the unthinkable. I booked myself a ticket for the first day first show of Shaandaar on the Navami morning in Kolkata, where I am celebrating Durga Puja with my in-laws. While my mother-in-law was making elaborate preparations for the Navami lunch with steamed hilsa as the main attraction, I excused myself saying that I had some important business to take care of.
In a way, I was telling the truth. In the last two weeks, I had interviewed Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor, the lead pair of Shaandaar, both had wonderful things to share about the film and I believed it was my responsibility to figure out if they have lived up to the expectations of a fresh pairing; if Kapoor has delivered another impressive performance after Haider; and if Bhatt continues her streak of good movies. They turned out be fine and sincere on the screen. Yet, some minutes into the movie, I started regretting my morning expedition to the theatre.
It’s the story, as it happens in most Bollywood films, that proved to be a huge dampener. This realisation came some minutes into the movie. Initially, what hit me was the desperate attempt to make everything appear very grand, cute, stylish and quirky — virtually in this order. Queen took pride in creating some interesting and believable characters.
Shaandaar has plenty of characters and each one of them have been given some quirks which they cling on to. While very little attempt has been made to add depth to these characters and etch them out better, the focus seems to have been on having a series of gags or “funny” scenes at the cost of having a baggy script and leaving the viewers more bewildered than amused. I could not understand why those twins were there in the movie or how necessary as it to have the background effect of “hottie hottie” every time Kapoor chatted with Sushma Seth; unless, it was a feeble attempt to subvert such clichés.
While Queen was the journey of a bride, who after being ditched at the alter discovers herself and happiness, Shaandaar could have been the story of an adopted girl with indomitable spirit who catches bats and has a pet frog. Instead, it becomes a mishmash of predictable sub-plots and meanders.
What I still can’t get over is that the love story which is at the core of the film was somewhere forgotten. The writers in the haste to make a point about being true to oneself, among many other such preachy things, seemed to forget about the two insomniacs who found comfort and sleep in each other’s company.
Yeah, there are days I need a good love story to feel all is well with the world. Luckily for me, on the Navami day, the hilsa curry did the job.