Madhur Bhandarkar has never shied away from his key mantra - expose - in his films. Fashion, Corporate, Page 3, Traffic Signal, Chandni Bar - each of these films has aimed at getting a sneak peak into the functioning of the respective industries.
No wonder, one did wonder whether Bhandarkar would actually take an all out approach for 'Heroine', considering the fact that this time around the industry is his own - Bollywood! Thankfully he actually manages to do that while not being shy about exposing various aspects of the industry and in the process goes to the next level of behind the scenes.
This is evident from the fact that there are a series of episodes that merge real and reel life. Yes, the protagonist does see success coming her way but as a viewer even you know that she is balancing pros and cons while wondering whether all that she lost in the process was indeed worth it.
So whether it comes to a superstar who carries a past of having cheated his wife for a 'firangi' babe or an affair that couldn't turn into reality at an overseas shoot or a cricketer who lost his form for over an year after falling in love with a heroine or an actress whose date of birth in her passport is forged or a director with aesthetics in mind punishing his assistants to a PR who feeds good as well as bad stories to media as long as it makes for news to the journalist who is clear about belonging to a camp to the corporate house that shelves films in a flurry for being non-commercial, there is all of this and more in 'Heroine'.
It is these very episodes that ensure that there is something happening every 10 minutes. Yes, in the initial few minutes you get a brief sense of deja vu, what with a usual coterie surrounding an actress, all around flying kisses, fake compliments etc., all of which has been seen in many a movie related to the world of glamour, some of it being inspired from Madhur's own films.
However once the characters are well established, the film picks up good pace, only to lead to a turning point at the interval point from where there is no looking back.
In this entire tale, the film neither projects Kareena as a manipulator nor as a victim. The professional upswing that comes with hiring of a new PR (Divya Dutta) also has a surprise round the corner when another superstar (Sanjay Suri) comes in her life. What further aids 'Heroine' is the fact that it doesn't suffer from the first half-second half syndrome.
Yes, there is some time spend in the beginning of the first half to set up pace while the middle of the second half too becomes a little too extended. However as a whole the film in entirety has enough elements that bring in enough spice.
Moreover, Kareena's declaration of 'Heroine' carrying Madhur's trademark 'tadka' does come to fore not once, not twice but thrice over during the last 30 minutes of the film that take it to a high. Yes, the brief epilogue may seem a tad abrupt to a few but in the story's context, it is justifiable.
Meanwhile Kareena is perfect and that too in a role where she risked delving into a predictable zone. She maintains a wonderful balance in an award winning act and instead of portraying a bipolar character in a cliched way, she maintains a realistic touch without even once going off tangent. Especially in the second half, you totally forget that she is the same Kareena who was dancing to 'Chammak Challo' a year ago.
The actor who further throws a pleasant surprise is Arjun Rampal who one can totally relate to and thankfully doesn't come across as a stereotype superstar. In fact his character is the most important to 'Heroine' after Kareena and he does very well, especially in the film's second half. On the other hand Randeep Hooda, who has forever been known for his brooding image, can well wear the tag of being cute-and-charming, something that would be hard to believe against his name but is actually made possible.
From the core theme perspective, there are set expectations from 'Heroine'. However what surprises is to see that the film is more about a real person than a superstar who is craving for acceptance, both in her personal and professional life, instead of being someone who is ruthless and goes through wrongful means to sustain her stardom.
In that aspect, the film explores humane side of affairs where every incident, character, situation or circumstance comes with a definite reason without really bordering on being entirely white or grey.