Movie Review: Kareena Kapoor Plays a Bollywood Queen in ‘Heroine’

September 24th, 2012

UTV Motion Pictures

Kareena Kapoor plays a beleaguered Bollywood superstar in “Heroine.”

Stardom is a vale of tears in Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Heroine,” about the ups and downs, and downs and downs of Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor), a Bollywood queen with a self-destructive flair for making headlines. Pulpy but attenuated, “Heroine” tries to do too much: deliver an expos? of the back-stabbing film business while also drawing a portrait of a woman caught in its vice.

Mr. Bhandarkar throws every bad thing that’s ever happened to a Bollywood actress at poor Mahi, then watches as she squirms, schemes and suffers for 149 minutes. This is a world of petty jealousies, where sex is traded for favors, and the hot thing today is old news tomorrow. Though the movie has a few unexpected moments — just when you’re wondering if it knows it’s throwing Mahi into another woman’s arms, it throws her into another woman’s arms — this show business tell-all doesn’t go much deeper than a fan magazine would and can’t decide whether to titillate or tsk-tsk.

With her long Modigliani face and sad green eyes, Ms. Kapoor does melancholy well, but she can’t make Mahi’s 1,001 other emotions cohere. Who could? Part victim, part operator, Mahi is a tear-streaked mess, whose desires change from scene to scene. One minute she wants love, the next nothing will do but superstardom, the next she wants to be a real artist. The movie slaps her with the convenient but unconvincing label of bipolar, and hopes for some Marilyn Monroe resonance, aided by her occasional pill-popping and boozing. Her real problem, though, is one actresses deal with all the time: a bad script.

Heroine

Opened on Friday nationwide.

Written and directed by Madhur Bhandarkar; director of photography, Mahesh Limaye; edited by Deven Murdeshwar; music by Salim-Sulaiman; production design by Sukant Panigrahy; costumes by Manish Malhotra, Niharika Khan and Shefalina; produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Madhur Bhandarkar and Siddharth Roy Kapur; released by UTV Communications. In Manhattan at the Big Manhattan, 239 East 59th Street, between Second and Third Avenues. In Hindi, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 29 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Randeep Hooda.

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