Directed by: Madhur Bhandakar

Starring: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Divya Dutta, Shahana Goswami

All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

In this industry,either manipulate or be manipulated” states Pallavi, a calculating PR maven who makes Kelly Cutrone look like Martha Stewart. If only someone had manipulated Bhandakar to man up and manipulate the script of Heroine, we would have had a fantastic film here that would have realised its premise successfully and become a modern classic. Instead, Bhandarkar gives us a hot mess which destroys any merits it has with a healthy dose of self-righteousness.

Because there are some fantastic ideas in Heroine – the contrast of the modern day actress against the stars of yesteryear, the insecurity and instability of the profession, the vicious treatment at the hands of the media. There is even a clumsy attempt to give Mahi a back story to give the film some much needed backbone. But this is all lost courtesy of Bhandarkar’s ego which throws in cliche and judgement galore at its subject, killing any momentum the film builds. Furthermore, having demonstrated his racism in Fashion, Bhandarkar adds homophobia as another string to his bow, making Mahi’s same sex experimentation with her co-star feel like a sordid guilty secret rather than exploring this strand of the story with any dignity or care it deserves.

There is also a colossal waste of talent in Heroine – the ensemble cast power the film through on the strength of their performances. Even Arjun Rampal does well with a less is more approach though as always, it is Divya Dutta and Shahana Goswami who shine throughout. Massive props also go to Kareena who really does throw herself into the role of Mahi and is the sole reason why I sat through Heroine to the end. One can see Kareena trying to get into the skin of the character and crucially, supplementing the character with a edge that the script and director fail to give her. As the nucleus of Heroine, Kareena propels the film forward and really does give an applause worthy performance.

With The Dirty Picture and Raaz 3 covering similar territory, Heroine really could have stood out from the crowd but instead, falls prey to its own delusions of grandeur. I really wish Bhandarkar had gone back to basics here by simplifying his concept – rather than trying to satisfy both audiences and critics, he would have done well to focus on his main character and story and make the industry a character in itself rather than an irritating plot device. Never mind biting the hand that feeds it, Heroine gives said hand a manicure when it should have been far more uncompromising and unrelenting in its approach. A disappointment to say the least, saved only by Kareena and the cast, Heroine isn’t really worth a trip to the cinema for non-Kareena fans, but I would recommend catching it on DVD or telecast as it is watchable and in parts, an engaging film. Sadly though, it isn’t unmissable.

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