Kareena Kapoor has always been involved in the largest blockbusters in Bollywood, and starring with the 3 Khans in films like 3 Idiots with Aamir, RA.One with Shah Rukh, and Bodyguard with Salman has made her one of the few who have collaborated with all of them in their respective hit films (OK, so RA.One kinda disappointed). Heroines have never had it easy in Bollywood when compared to the heroes, and Kareena is currently at the top of her game, but can she, like Vidya Balan, and Priyanka Chopra, marquee her own movie? The answer is probably yes, but if the self referential Heroine is anything like the title goes, she's going to need a better story and tighter script in order to make an impact.
The first look at the trailer and various promotional clips may have one thinking this is somewhat like Chopra's Fashion, also written and directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, in terms of charting the come and go, ups and downs, and longevity of the career of a fickle, fame driven industry, replacing the world of fashion with that of the movies, and also taken a leaf out of Balan's The Dirty Picture in centering the story around an actress who is willing to risk all for a shot at fame, and sustaining her position at the top of the cut throat food chain of an industry, but Bhandarkar's film now could have benefitted from attempting to craft a more psychologically complex film, or taken a deeper, more provocative look at the industry itself. It missed on a lot of marks set, and the film huffed and puffed throughout before finally collapsing on its own weight near the finishing line.
It's not that Kareena Kapoor didn't try to save the film. Her star power is going to be the box office draw here, and she did her best for a role that had her dig deep into emotions, especially plenty of negative ones as her character of Mahi, an actress on the cusp of decline, gets embroiled pretty much on her lack of solid relationships with the opposite sex, her insecurities both personal and professional, and her conduct with the various spectrum of her industry, from peers, to rivals, and the handling of the media. Not a chance goes by where Mahi passes on being catty to those she dislikes, and in the ways of the world, what you do unto others, others will do unto you. Kapoor showcases her acting chops and while convincing, she's clearly let down by the plot of the movie.
Beginning quite inexplicably with Mahi being thrown out of a car, then barging into a police station wanting to lodge a report, it goes into flashback mode to chart how we got to this stage, showing the world Mahi inhibits, with the glitz, and the glamour, and the movie premieres and after parties where stars will cajole with directors and producers to chart their next project. Transitions seemed to be in a hurry, and scenes were haphazardly strung together, probably in eagerness to show how confused, and broken the state of mind and emotion is for Mahi in the fame game, despite showing nonchalance to the competition from amongst peers.
Heroine also got bogged down by the none too perfect relationships, making Bollywood seem like a cesspool for broken relationships, infidelity and adultery, where actors prey on actresses in their hotel rooms and trailers, and sports personalities become adamant in wanting an equally famous actor/actress hang by their arms. Its look into the behind the scenes in the industry just scratched the superficial surface of casting for a film, where a string of hits will continue to bring on big budgeted projects and plenty of money spinning endorsements, while duds, or not being in the limelight for whatever reasons good or bad, will slowly see one's career starting to fade. These again are something known through the grapevine, and need not be repeated ad nauseam in the film just to chalk up screen time.
Subplots were also haphazardly added into the film, making it more bewildering, and sprawling a lot more than necessary. An arthouse film, and its eccentric director and acting muse, almost threatened to run away with the film from the mid point, providing what would make up to be the better bits in the movie because it was getting tiring witnessing Mahi perpetually drunk, or high, or just plain down, most of which were self inflicted. The self-destruct button was clearly set by Mahi in her burning of bridges and destruction of any semblance of friendship and relationships formed, and the story was stuck in this rut of self-torture, before trying its very best to turn things around in what could have been a wake up call to the transience of life, haphazardly assembled for the last few scenes as Mahi sold her soul for one more hurrah.
In what would be reel life imitating real life, there's an unfortunate tragedy in the production of the film that would likely bring the curious to watch Heroine, just like how a scandal boosted Mahi's hopes of a comeback. Heroine could have been a fascinating look at the industry, and a great showcase for Kareena Kapoor, which unfortunately didn't turn out to be as well as expected, and kind of a disappointment.