Take a blank canvas. Daub some ‘Orphan Annie’ paint on it. Add a little dash of ‘Cinderella’. Come closer home and borrow from that old durable ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’, and the much more recent ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. And gild the whole with glitter and gold. What ‘Shaandaar’ is trying to do is clear: reinvent beloved fairy tales with the help of winsome stars, but ends up being a blinding mix of everything with nothing of its own to boast of.
One day, little Alia (Alia Bhatt, going by her own name) is brought home by Papa (Pankaj Kapur), a man ruled by his money-grubbing mommy (Sushma Seth) and wife. Alia grows up not knowing where she came from, not knowing how to sleep and perchance to dream. And then her Prince Charming (Shahid Kapoor) rides into her life, and everything changes.
There’s enough in this premise for it to have turned into a delightful concoction, given that Vikas Bahl’s last was ‘Queen’. But so much else is so relentlessly piled on– a big fat wedding, no, make that a Big Fat Sindhi Wedding, a grand mansion somewhere in the UK, the standard jibes-at-gay-people, fat girl shaming, sorry stabs at whimsy– that very soon into the film, you are left groaning under the double assault of bling and blather.
The film is bloated with excess. Songs dressed up and going nowhere, saying nothing. Sequences meant to showcase actual planes, and flights of fancy, but looping no loops. Costumery and puffery may work with other actors, but it is wrong for Alia. Underneath it all, she knows she is real, and she can’t help letting us in on her. But here, she’s been made to play so determinedly cute that she sinks into a set of mumbled mannerisms. And using her own name so soon in? There’s a problem right there.
Shahid suffers from a badly-written character. He can be such a natural charmer, but here the charm offensive is not allowed to stop, and finally just overtakes him. It doesn’t help that he gets into a similar loop with the scenes he has with his real-life `papaji’, and there are several. Shahid and Alia look good together, but there’s not very much else they manage between the two of them.
The only one who leaves an impression in this crowded-yet-slack film is Sanah Kapur, the real-life half-sister of Shahid, who plays a bride being used as part of a ‘deal’ between two business families. She has a couple of strong scenes, and wears her weight well. The rest of it is a non-stop barrage of stereotypes being played for laughs: rich Sindhi men and their love for living life large, grooms obsessed with their eight-and-a-half packs, limp-wrists and fat waists.
Where’s the ‘shaan’ in all this?
Cast of Shaandaar: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Pankaj Kapoor, Sanah Kapur, Sanjay Kapoor, Sushma Seth
Director: Vikas Bahl