Vikas Bahl’s first film ‘Chillar Party’ (which he co-directed with Nitesh Tiwari) was loved by those who saw it but it was ‘Queen’ that showered him with box-office rewards along with a plethora of trophies. While Bahl’s first two films were, what has come to know as, middle-of-the-road cinema, his latest venture ‘Shaandaar’ comes across as a glossy, commercial affair from the trailers. The film, co-produced by Dharma and Phantom, seems to bear the stamp of the latter. Last week’s release ‘Wedding Pullav’ revolved around the concept of a destination wedding. ‘Shaandaar’, while based on a similar theme, is a much bigger film in terms of its scale.
Alia (Alia Bhatt) was adopted by Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapoor) when she was a child. Her foster mother (Niki Aneja Walia) and grandmother (Sushma Seth) do not show any concern for her, she is the apple of Bipin’s eye. Bipin’s family is going through a financial crisis and Bipin’s mother, the head of the family, decides to get Bipin’s elder daughter Isha (Sanah Kapoor) get married to Robin, brother of Harry Fundwani, a business tycoon. The marriage would enable them to merge their business with that of the Fundwanis. Jagjinder Joginder/JJ (Shahid Kapoor) is a wedding organizer who is in charge of Isha and Robin’s wedding. JJ is an insomniac just like Alia and being sleepless on nights makes them bump into each other on several occasions. Sparks fly between the two, much to the chagrin of Bipin who feels that no man is good enough to be her daughter’s partner.
A film based on a destination wedding is expected to depict the various functions, rituals, and things that constitute a wedding. ‘Shaandaar’ does that but alas, most of the scenes in the film come across as superficial and far from being engaging. The main culprit here is the script. The film rests on a thin plotline and even with a promising subject, it fails to deliver anything substantial to the audience. The film is designed as a Disney romance and the writer and the director try (forcefully) to add sugary sweet moments that would bring a smile to its target audience. The first half is full of sequences depicting the pre-wedding celebrations, most of which force you to break into a yawn. Right from the title track, which pops out of nowhere, to the scene in which the guests get drugged and start getting boisterous, nothing really leaves much of an impact. The way the second half starts off, one gets an impression that it will not turn out to be as cheesy as the first half. While it maintains a sober tone for some time, it eventually slips into being dull. The climax shows some promise but fizzles out soon.
What stays in your mind though are some warm moments shared by Jagjinder-Alia and Bipin-Alia respectively. The romance between the lead pair leaves a lot to be desired but they share great chemistry. And oh, both of them look amazing! The scenes between the father and daughter are heartwarming. One wishes these moments were in abundance as it would have lessened the torture of going through the other sequences which do not leave much of an impact.
Shahid Kapoor, playing a dark role in ‘Haider’ last year, is back to his lover boy avatar. He oozes dollops of charm and plays his role to perfection. Alia Bhatt has a Disney princess-like vibe to her. She looks very pretty and delivers a charming performance. Pankaj Kapoor plays the role of a protective father with remarkable ease. Niki Aneja Walia, a popular television actress at one time, plays Kapur’s wife and makes a good comeback. Sushma Seth brings down the house with her terrific performance in some funny scenes. Sanah Kapoor is a wonderful discovery. She acts very well and shows her true caliber in the climax sequence. Sanjay Kapoor hams as per the requirement of the character played in him. Anjana Sukhani barely gets a line to speak. Karan Johar is good in a cameo.
Vikas Bahl, who showed immense promise with his first two films, falters here. His ambition to make a large-scale Disney drama overshadows the script. He tries to infuse several fun elements into the film while overlooking the gaping holes in the script. The screenplay and the dialogues (Anvita Dutt) emerge as the film’s weakest link. Dutt tries too hard to come up with smart dialogues and ends up writing cringe-inducing lines that further bring down the weak screenplay. The music (Amit Trivedi) is nice. The background score (Amit Trivedi) is average. Veteran cinematographer Anil Mehta makes sure that even with a lightweight script the film looks good and comes across as a bright and fun affair. The editing does not work as there seems to be a jerk between some of the scenes. The production design (Amrita Mahal Nakai) is eye-filling.
Picture this – a kid, who values money, does extremely well in his exams. His parents raise his pocket money. The kid gets excited and starts wasting money on things that are far from being necessary. Something similar seemed to have happened to Vikas Bahl. After making his first two films on a tight budget, the director got an opportunity and the resources to realize his dream of making a bigger budget commercial extravaganza. Unfortunately, this time he did not show any sincere effort and ended up wasting all the precious resources that were laid at his disposal. ‘Shaandaar’ is a good opportunity gone to waste.