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Review: ‘Shaandaar’ is sickly sweet

Romantic comedy featuring Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt starts off well with its castles and Casanovas but is all sheen and no soul

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Watching Shaandaar is like eating from a large bucket of caramel popcorn. The first few kernels may taste divine, but a bit later you may feel slightly sick at all that syrupy goodness. Likewise, the romantic comedy with the delicious pair — Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt — begins on a promising note with its castles, Casanovas and crazy, overprivileged people. But soon, you realise that there’s not much bluster behind all that beauty and bling.

Director Vikas Bahl, who gave us the realistic romantic comedy Queen, seems to have tripped and landed on the wrong foot while creating the fantastical world of snobbery powered by designer lehengas and first world problems.

Bhatt plays the cute Alia Arora who’s adopted into a rich family by the kind-hearted Tata (Pankaj Kapur.) The pint-sized orphan may remind you of a modern-day Cinderella since her foster mother and grandmother are pure evil, who keep reminding her that she’s an unwanted outsider.

Naturally, despite lying in crisp cotton sheets and feather-filled pillows, that insecurity and neglect manifests itself into insomnia as she grows up. Her father dreams of a time when his darling daughter can sleep at night (Clearly, he has never heard of therapy or just talking it out with his narrow-minded clan members). Enter Jagjinder Joginder, the wedding planner for Alia’s sisters’ wedding. Just like the archetypal romantic hero in mushy novels, Kapoor is charming and smooth. Here’s a wedding planner who caters to the old, bold and the young. The leather-jacket wearing Punjabi can whip up an aloo paratha for the ageing matriarch and an eggs benedict for the bride — all without being given the brief. It’s not rocket science in the real world, but in Shaandaar these scenes offer a window to the characters.

Soon Alia, her overweight sister Isha, her gold-digging granny and her calculating mother is eating out of Joginder’s hands. And the next two hours are spent on giving us a crash course on lavish weddings, body image struggles faced by women and marrying for love. The conflicts in the comedy Shaandaar are trite, but you have to give it to its lead actors including Pankaj Kapoor for adding weight to the frivolous storyline. Shahid Kapoor looks good in his leather jackets and brings out some genuine laughter as he takes on Alia’s dad who distrusts him. And it’s impossible not to love Bhatt. She’s cute and she knows it. With great believability, she pulls off a scene in which she introduces her friend Ashok to Joginder. And did I tell you that Ashok is a green frog, one of her many nocturnal friends?

Sanjay Kapoor, who plays a flamboyant Sindhi business tycoon, does his bit to bring to life the comedy of errors. However, he may remind you strongly of his successful brother Anil.

It’s surprising that Bahl, who gave us a touching comedy like Queen, could make a film that’s all sheen and no soul. But if you like grand Indian weddings, you may find yourself rooting for Shaandaar. For others, it’s not a happy ending.

Don’t miss it:

Film: Shaandaar

Director: Vikas Bahl

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Pankaj Kapoor

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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