Verdict: A young and vibrant rom-com to lift your spirits.

Don’t you love that feeling when you walk out of a film humming, ready to break into a jig? That’s the kind of film this is. Which is not surprising, as it is a Karan Johar film through and through. He even has a guest appearance in it! And if you like his particular brand of family films, you will be running for this movie before you read the last word. 

The essential story is not new (quite like Cinderella and other fairy tales) but it is freshly told. It explores a father-daughter relationship that flourishes in the absence of a mother’s love. The film begins with an animation sequence that explains the reason behind Alia’s alienation from her mother and grandmother (Sushma Seth). Something that doesn’t seem to bother young Alia (Alia Bhatt) much, who like most kids today shrugs it off, choosing to focus on her intimate connection with her father (Pankaj Kapur) and somewhat cliched relationship with her fat sister (Sanah Kapoor) instead.

They grow up and the fat sister has to get married to a rich, muscled Sindhi boy (in exchange for her weight in gold!), to shore up the family’s floundering finances with a business merger. With this, the canvas is unfurled for a visual masterpiece that is the stuff of (day)dreams. There is a castle, a bearskin-wearing guard, horses, helicopters and lots of gold- in guns, limos, clothes, even sunglasses. And the wedding planner is the “hottie” Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor). A romance between the rebellious younger daughter and the irreverent wedding planner blossoms over “insomn-Alia”, much to her father’s chagrin; what happens next is the stuff fun films are made of.

Shaandaar is not realistic (nor did it ever pretend to be) but it draws inspiration from real life. All the humorous moments in the film (and there are many) work because of the grains of truth hidden in them. It pokes fun at gold-obsessed Sindhis, muscle-obsessed men, and power-obsessed matriarchs (though these are not as common!).

Shahid and Alia are a match made in casting heaven. They both have that chocolaty charm that incredibly is multiplied when they are together. Some of the best scenes in the film are the ones with just the two of them. We HAVE to see more of this screen couple! The rest of the great moments in the film are owned by Pankaj Kapur who wins your heart as the understanding and protective father. He delivers 100% on the role given to him and adds a bonus of charm that only he could have brought to the role. The rest of the cast are funny and apt in their roles, even Sanjay Kapoor who goes “crazzyy” with the over-the-top Sindhi role.

It is hard to pin Vikas Bahl down as a director. This film is the polar opposite of Queen but works almost as well in its own space. He’s clearly comfortable with both kinds of story-telling. Amit Trivedi‘s music is memorable, and fit for a wedding playlist. The film’s art direction is remarkable for being colorful and only ironically opulent. 

Sweet in parts, silly in parts- this film is exactly what the doctor ordered this festive season. A reminder that everyone- gay guys, street-smart orphans, illegitimate children, diffident men and fat girls- can get a happy ending. At least in films!

Why You Must Watch This Movie:

1. Shahid and Alia are adorbs together (yes, I said adorbs. If it bothers you, this film is too young for you!) 2. Pankaj Kapur’s performance- awesome! 3. To have a fun time with your friends and family. 4. To hear Pankaj Kapur say, “Apne-apne hathiyaar neeche phenk do!