Saturday, October 24, 2015


The Frog Princess

Vikas Bahl’s Shaandaar tries to spoofas well as pay tribute to, fairytales and the great Indian wedding movie, but doesn’t quite succeed. So the film turns out a strange bubblegum-meets-laddoo concoction that you can’t relish but don’t want to spit out either.

Like Rani of his last film Queen, Alia (Bhatt) is feisty—she carries a frog around with her, knows all about bikes, is not afraid of the dark and is generally undaunted by anything. She has been adopted by Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapur) and accepted by her sister Esha (Sanah Kapoor), if not by her mother (Nikki Aneja) or harridan grandmother Kamla (Sushma Seth).  In a cute twist to the traditional fairy tale, she is an “ullu” as her exasperated father says, which means she has insomnia, and he hopes she will one day find a man who will help her sleep.

The man, Jagjinder Joginder or JJ (Shahid Kapoor) is a wedding planner (accompanied by “He’s a hottie hottie” chant), a “darpok” afraid of the dark; he has insomnia too, but doesn’t know what the word means. They chat, reveal their secrets and can read each other’s thoughts that appear in animated cloud shaped bubbles.

That’s the fun part, the boring part is that the film is set during a lavish wedding (yawn!) in a Disney-like English castle (yawn!)  where Esha is literally being fattened like a sacrificial animal, because she is to be weighed in gold.  Kamla has made a “deal” to get her married to Robin (Vikas Verma) the nasty “eight and a half pack” brother of the wealthy Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor), so that his money will save the Arora clan from bankruptcy. The Fundwanis are so garish that everyone who looks at their glittering costumes is forced to squint.

Of course, the audience knows that Alia and JJ are made for each other and that Esha and Robin are not, so is the space between the beginning and end fun to watch?  Sadly, not much. There are extravagant dance sequences, a battle-of-the-sexes qawwali, an animated drug induced trip when all of them get high on dope and magic mushrooms, Karan Johar making a guest appearance.  But there is no story and hence, no grip.

The lead pair is spirited and the film will probably work as a date movie. If more was expected it’s because Queen was such a game changer for females in films. Shaandaar is just a piece of fluff.


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