Vikas Bahl returns to direct his third film, on the heels of the widely-lauded Queen. While that movie was grounded in realism, Shaandaar plays out like a glossy Disney-esque fairy tale.
Every scene in Shaandaar feels like a page of an illustration-filled story book. The characters are over-the-top without any negative shades, the movie is set in a Victorian-era castle, heck, there's even an adorable animated prologue.
It has been touted as 'India's first destination-wedding film', and that should have been enough of a clue to figure out that there's not going to be any story here, so to speak. Which is absolutely fine, as such films rely on the cast and a tight screenplay to push them across the line. And it's safe to say that Shaandaar succeeds in that.
The movie, in a sense, is quite reminiscent of Hum Aapke Hainâ€¦Koun? in terms of its simplistic event-by-event linear narrative. The only difference being the modern-day additions of a wedding picnic, a bachelor party and a 'black and white night' to the usual wedding rigmarole.
It's unfair to label the cast as characters. They're just playing caricatures here. Alia Bhatt plays (surprise!) Alia Arora, an insomniac and sister of the BTB (bride-to-be, a recurring gag in the film). Her bubbly know-it-all persona and wide-eyed innocence is charming. On the other hand, Shahid Kapoor underplays his part as the wedding planner, Jagjinder Joginder (JJ), not having anything extraordinary to do.
Sanah Kapoor (Shahid's sister) plays the wedding bride, Isha, and is incredibly chirpy. However, as he very often does, it is Pankaj Kapur who effortlessly steals the show, as Alia's and Isha's father. His chemistry with Alia is endearing, and his confrontations with Shahid are the highlight of the film!
Amongst the rest of the cast, there's Sanjay Kapoor, making a shoddy imitation of brother Anil, who plays an excruciatingly stereotyped Sindhi, which gets annoying after a point of time. Sushma Seth deserves a special mention here, as she is absolutely hilarious as the overtly bossy grandmother.
The outdoor locations are picturesque, and extremely pretty. Leeds and Poland have been beautifully captured. Each and every frame is splashed with color and pleasing to the eyes.
A special mention needs to be given to Amit Trivedi who's composed the music and the background score. The picturisation of each song is superb, culminating into Senti Waali Mental's brilliant jugalbandi. There are a couple of bonus tracks in the film. And an extremely hilarious rap titled 'Monday ka khaana Tuesday ko'!
Shaandaar is as over-the-top and absurd as it gets. This is a movie where frogs are named â€¦and named Ashok nonetheless. Where the saas hates her sons and loves her bahu. Where a sneeze shakes the earth and blasts off the International Space Station. Where the leads start playing hide-and-seek, just cause it's been a while since one of them's played it. Where a kid has the ability to light a wheelchair on fire with an arrow. Where a wedding pandit is actually a cricket commentator. I could go on and on about the ludicrousness the film manages to achieve.
However, behind all the the absurdities, Shaandaar does have a soul. The characters are endearing enough. There's not a dull moment throughout the film. Bahl ensures that he doesn't drag any scenes, keeping the screenplay taut. While it may not reach the highs that Queen did last here, it does manage to engage you in its quirky, oddball way.
All in all, Shaandaar does live up to its title. Go watch this movie, fairytale!