Movie Review: Heroine (2012)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Let me illustrate the failure of director Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine with an anecdote from the showing I attended. During a completely serious moment late in the film, Arjun Rampal’s character, Aryan, tells Kareena Kapoor’s Mahi tenderly, “You look beautiful.” The audience laughed.

Heroine is so overwrought and lacking in subtlety that it’s impossible to take seriously. Emotional switches are flipped on a dime, accompanied by dramatic musical cues that are unnecessary because Kapoor’s instantaneous turns from happy to sobbing, shaking fury make it impossible to misinterpret Bhandarkar’s intent.

Kapoor plays Mahi, a superstar actress whose position at the top of the Bollywood hierarchy is threatened by newcomers willing to bribe entertainment journalists with shopping vacations. Mahi’s personal life is on the fritz, too, as her married actor boyfriend, Aryan, dawdles on his way to divorce court.

The couple breaks up, Mahi abuses pills, goes through a PR makeover, dates an athlete (played by Randeep Hooda), and does an indie film to gain some acting chops. The indie film debacle results in a night of drunken lesbianism with a co-star (played by Shahana Goswami). Mahi cries a lot through the melodramatic course of her career, angrily smoking cigarette after cigarette, as if they are responsible for her personal and professional troubles.

Kapoor’s performance is all over the place. I don’t fault her, because I think it’s what Bhandarkar wanted. The problem is that, no matter what she does, Mahi is always wrong. Things always end badly for her. She’s a character with no control over her destiny. It’s hard to connect with a character in such a helpless position. The moral of the story seems to be, “Don’t become an actor.”

When not in emotional roller coaster mode, the film is too “inside baseball.” I’m interested in the film industry, and even I couldn’t care less about scenes in which Mahi discusses changes to the marketing budget with her production team.

The good elements of Heroine are limited to Goswami’s awesome cleavage and multiple shirtless shots of Hooda and Rampal. The dance number “Halkat Jawani” is entertaining, too.

There are two scenes from Heroine that will stick with me because I’m not sure how to explain them, both involving reading material. In one scene, a slimy co-star invites Mahi back to his hotel room, hoping to seduce her. Before she arrives, he places a James Patterson novel on a bedside table. What is this supposed to signify about him? “Hey, Mahi, I know nothing turns chicks on more than popular genre fiction.”

In another scene, an argument between Mahi and Aryan is observed with fiendish glee by up-and-coming actress pretending to be engrossed in an Archie comic. Why Archie? What’s the symbolism? What does it mean?!?!


22 thoughts on “Movie Review: Heroine (2012)

  1. Anushka

    Well,After Joker this seems to be punching bag for the critics..Though they suggest its still slightly better than Joker.
    Honestly,I was never looking forward to this film.I don’t consider Kareena as a very good actress.Just okay!The film had been in the news for the casting issues.Ash was actually supposed to do the film but dropped owing to her pregnancy.Well,I really adore Aishwarya.So I am happy she stayed away from this mess. πŸ™‚

    1. Kathy

      Not even Ash could have saved Heroine, Anushka. The story is better organized than Joker’s was, but all of the dialog is so direct and obvious. It’s as though the film was written for space aliens who know nothing about movies or the movie industry. Hey! Maybe Heroine was written for the aliens in Joker! πŸ˜‰

  2. TS

    once I told u when trailer was released that it looks like dirty picture, is it similar? I mean first she becomes a successful actress later failure no work then drugs. I will not watch this movie coz I hate madhur bhandarkar movies. they r all same. in interviews he says that I make realistic cinema n people love him for that. that’s what he thinks. is this realistic? I dont think so. he uses tried n tested formula in all his movies like fashion or page 3. halkat jawani is good though

    1. Kathy

      TS, Heroine’s only similar to The Dirty Picture in that they are both about actresses with troubled lives. Actresses with easy lives aren’t worth making movies about. πŸ™‚

      Bhandarkar’s problem is that he makes movies about adult topics, but he writes them as though he’s telling a story to children. He explains way too much. I’d call that condescending, not realistic. If you’ve seen the video of Halkat Jawani, you’ve seen all you need to see of Heroine.

          1. Keyur Seta

            Jawani means youth and Halkat is an eyebrow-raising abuse in Marathi which is slowly gaining acceptance in Hindi. It translates to mean, worthless or characterless. But it is used in extreme situations for very bad people. It is generally used by people who have stooped low. Due to this, many over here are offended by the use of such an abuse in a song, including me πŸ™‚

  3. TS

    kathy I found the trailer of shahrukh’s new movie ”Jab Tak hai Jaan” with english subtitles. he is back in romantic movies after his unsuccessful superhero n action movies.
    here is the link:

    1. Kathy

      Thanks for finding a trailer with English subtitles, TS! This looks like my ideal movie. I love romantic SRK, and Anushka is ADORABLE. Between Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Talaash, November is going to be a great month.

  4. TS

    one more common thing in bhandarkar movies is gay charachters. all his movies have that. i liked his movie dil to bacha hai ji cos it was a comedy, even that movie had a gay charachter.

    1. Kathy

      Yep, Heroine has them, too, TS. I would applaud Bhandarkar’s inclusion of gay characters if he wrote them as real people and not just flappy-handed, lisping stereotypes.

  5. TS

    Halkat is a slang used
    for someone who is
    mean, does not care
    for anybody. N jawani is youth. Hence
    Halkat Jawani is ‘mean youth’, as
    in youth that doesn’t
    care for anything,
    anybody, that doesn’t
    listen to anyone else
    and does what it
    wishes to.

  6. KS

    So i watched Heroine here in united states…was expecting little bit more since i thought fashion was better movie than this one. Well Kareena tried her best and she was better than most of her other movies and showed a lot of emotions in the movie pretty naturally. She was a good fit for the character but for the movie to be a hit she is not enough. She should’ve been paired with an actor who is more talented than her basically so that ppl will appreciate her but also go see the movie for someone else. I am sure she wants to have a movie that is centered around her but its just not gonna work……..story was little bit broken also and didnt have that “put together well” element to it. something was missing…….too much of kareena that we cannot digest….in my mind they kept showing how angry she is how emotional she is how misbehaved she is over and over and over and i was like ok ok i got the point and what else…her dresses were amazing……i want some of those dresses pleeeeeeeeeease. plus kareena shouldnt do intimate scenes she just looks too fake in those..i do like Madur as director and appreciate how he brings some issues on screen that ppl dont want to show and talk about………but for a hit movie…… have to do all these in a clever way so that ppl will want to see it and more of it….just slapping some dialouges out there not enough bro……….

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