There’s a scene in Shaandaar during which an entire wedding party, high on magic mushrooms and pot brownies, lose their minds temporarily and start doing strange things. It’s a fitting scene in a film that appears to have been made under similarly mind-altering influences. Yes, there’s no polite way to say this: Shandaar is a bizarre film.
All sorts of madness and mayhem ensues when two families – one headed by coldhearted and kooky Mummyji (Sushma Seth), the other by garish Sindhi tycoon Harry Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor) – descend upon a mansion in the English countryside for a week of festivities to celebrate the marriage of Isha (Sanah Kapoor), the rotund granddaughter of Mummyji and Robin (Diljit Dosanjh), Harry’s beefy, boorish younger brother. Borrowing a page straight out of the Rajshri Productions handbook, the marriage also serves as the perfect backdrop for a blossoming romance…between the bride’s spirited sister Alia (Alia Bhatt), and charming wedding planner Jagjinger Joginder (Shahid Kapoor).
Director Vikas Bahl creates a purposefully exaggerated world with mostly whacked out characters. Mummyji herself is a hell-raiser in a motorized wheelchair, barking orders and bullying her grown-up children. Her older son and father-of-the-bride Bipin (Pankaj Kapur) is a meek soul who pretends to be tough, thus prompting someone to describe him as: “Baahar Nana Patekar, andar Amol Palekar.” His adoptive daughter Alia is the sort of insomniac that goes skinny-dipping in the dead of the night. The Fundwanis take their love for bling a little too far, brandishing gold-plated guns and showing up in gold-painted limos. And the groom is a vain, self-worshipping beefcake with little interest in anything beyond his eight-and-a-half-pack abs.
Some of this is funny, but Bahl’s script quickly runs out of both plot and wit. There’s a lot going on in this crowded film, but not a lot of it makes sense. Scenes like one in which Shahid and Pankaj Kapoor’s characters go paragliding for no reason at all, or the previously mentioned drug-haze, stick out in the narrative, as do repeated VFX-aided sequences. Karan Johar pops up for a cameo too, and while that scene sure evokes a laugh, it further adds to the “anything goes” attitude that hangs over this film. The feeling I got watching Shaandaar was that everyone on screen appeared to be doing exactly what they wanted, and not necessarily performing to a script.
Still, buried somewhere beneath all the loony characters, the overstyled songs, and way too many indulgent, often incoherent scenes are some nice touches. Like the relationship between Alia and her father Pankaj Kapoor, whose one dream is to find a man who can introduce her to the comfort of sleep. There’s an easy chemistry also between Alia (refreshingly natural) and Shahid, who look good together and lift the film to some extent on the strength of their charm. Debutant Sanah Kapoor (who’s Pankaj Kapoor’s real-life daughter and Shahid’s half-sister) brings both grace and spunk to the part of the plus-sized bride whose marriage is really a business deal between the two families.
These are small mercies in a wildly inconsistent film that seesaws unevenly between charming and WTF! It’s especially disappointing coming from the very writers and director that gave us last year’s terrific Queen. I’m going with a generous two out of five for Shaandaar. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Rating: 2 / 5