Vikas Bahl
Story - Director

Anvita Dutt
Screenplay & Dialogues

Chaitally Parmar
Story Co-writer

Film Review
Shaandaar:Not Jaandaar..

Fabulously Fat(uous)

Right. Now, if only someone could explain to me what I was doing for the better part of three hours and what, therefore, Vikas Bahl has been doing for the last few months, I would be infinitely grateful. After ‘Queen’ the bar has been set rather high for this director and, while I would be the first to say that it is unkind to place undue expectations on anybody, ‘Shaandaar’ is so nonsensical that it boggles the imagination to think that Vikas Bahl had anything to do with this pointless offering.

Insofar as the story is concerned, the movie lost the plot a long time ago - if ever it had a handle on it, that is! ‘Shaandaar’ begins with a narration by Naseeruddin Shah, against animated characters in action, much like ‘Hum Tum’ (2005).
Apparently there is to be a shaandaar wedding in the Arora family and so Mummyji (Sushma Seth), son Bipin (Pankaj Kapur), his wife Geetu (Nikki Aneja Walia), their daughters Alia (Alia Bhatt) and Esha (newcomer Sana Kapoor) and the assorted clan set off for parts unknown - I guess somewhere in the UK simply because of the architectural style of the mansion - where they are joined by the boy’s side, the Fundwanis, Harry (Sanjay Kapoor) his brother Robin (newcomer Vikas Verma) and the rest of this glittery family that likes to dress up in the colour gold. Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapur) is - hold your breath - the wedding organiser for this shenanigan. Ashok the frog (Yes! Really!) plays a stellar role too.

Into this optimistic potboiler, director Bahl has bunged in so many halfhearted angles that the movie runs in circles around itself like a headless chicken. The lead pair, Jagjinder Joginder and Alia are both insomniacs. JJ’s parents go missing in a riot - presumably in Punjab, since he is supposed to be a sardar, although I’m taking a wild guess again here! Alia is supposed to be an adopted orphan, with Mummyji and Geetu both playing the wicked whatevers, although subsequently we’re informed of yet another twist – that’s a stupid spoiler. Robin, the groom, is this vacuous eight-and-a-half pack dude, but his bride Esha is rather generously built with choli buttons popping all over the place and so enter Bahl the feminist as we, the audience, are told time and again how big is beautiful are here to stay; the pseudo qawwali ‘Senti waali mental’ crudely brings home this point. Has Bahl left out any more politically correct clichés?
Oh yes - Vipul chachu is gay!

Incidentally, since when do wedding organisers provide personal entertainment to their clients in the form of song-and-dance routines?? Since ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ obviously! Also, in spite of the ostentatious mansion, JJ is clearly sleeping in the stables, we can see the peeling paint on the walls! Tsk, tsk. Detailing, detailing! And the female lead is wearing black at an Indian wedding! Aila Alia! Did Karan Johar (one of the producers) have a fall-out with best buddy designer Manish Malhotra?!

Some of the shots seen in the promotional trailer are superfluous in the movie itself, such as the skydiving scene, or the “tumne kabhi kiya nahin hai kya?” Fevicol scene, or the night bathing - spectacular night shot with the full moon, waterfall et al (was this a cleverly constructed set?) but the scene itself is boring. There is an absolutely inane moment when both wedding parties eat hallucination-inducing brownies and mushrooms because this was the only “vegetarian” food around another because today is Tuesday one more because Bahl. There, I knew I was forgetting another of his dratted angles! Oh please, shoot me already! Like anybody really eats raw mushrooms anyway!

‘Shaandaar’ seems almost a Kapur family sitcom, as Shahid is pitted against real-life papa Pankaj and step-sister Sana (daughter of Pankaj and Supriya Pathak) who has done a commendable job in her debut, and let’s not forget, Naseeruddin Shah, who is an uncle by way of being married to Ratna, Supriya’s sister.

It is obvious that there is a camaraderie between Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapur, but zero ze zing factor. He appears protective and teasing rather than romantic, about her. It used to be a pleasure to watch Sushma Seth but she has not aged kindly. She looks like a caricature and her speech delivery too is slightly indistinct. Sanjay Kapoor surprisingly delivered a competent performance; his Sindhi-isms were spot on, with his “Vhaat” and “Rawbin.” As he grows older, he looks more than ever like elder brother Anil Kapoor, especially with the moustachioed look. Alia looks hot in the hot pink bikini, but clearly most of the other scenes were shot before she had time to tone her body, as you can see the plump thighs in the dance steps. Karan Johar makes a surprise guest appearance, ho hum.

‘Shaandaar’ rests completely on Shahid Kapur’s shoulders and, to his credit, he has performed with unmitigated sincerity and dedication, although of course he is not able to save the film from a quick death since the director was bent on harakiri. He is looking very trim; the new hairstyle suits him to a T; he looks great in formals like shirt, trousers and tie and he is an extremely fluid dancer which choreographer Bosco has tried to do justice to - it was a real pleasure to watch him in the title song ‘Shaandaar’ - but, more than anything else, he had the easy confidence throughout the movie of knowing that he is looking good.

The movie is produced by Phantom Films and Karan Johar. As dialogue writer, Anvita Dutt had some funny lines in, e.g. “Bahar Nana Patekar andar Amol Palekar!” or the “PP” (pairi pauna) but could not sustain the pace; the credit goes more to Shahid for his style of delivery. With ace veteran Anil Mehta behind the lens, there aren’t many complaints about the cinematography. Mukesh Chhabra did a good job with casting. Except for the title song and ‘Nazdeekiyan’ the music (Amit Trivedi) is nothing home to write about while the lyrics are quite puerile for the rest of the songs: Raita phail gaya? Like, really, bro?? Editing by Sanchari Das Mollick was way off the radar - imagine a 3-hour long film and that too, without a story. Yes. Story? The Jaan of film - there’s none, though credits show two story writers! 
In wake of making Shandar, Bahl and writers forgot to make it Jaandar.  

   Punam Mohandas

Punam Mohandas is a film buff, a journalist, an author, an accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.

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