How else does a story about a dysfunctional family involving a domineering matriarch, her oppressed descendants, an adopted insomniac and a plump heiress all set to marry a gun-totting tycoon’s narcissistic brother as part of a mutually beneficial business deal spring into a visually sumptuous, deliciously whimsical fairy tale?
In most ways, Shaandaar is dramatically different from Bahl’s breakthrough directorial debut, Queen. Yet, much like the Kangana Ranaut starrer, it too encourages the quality of finding courage to move away from social pressures and follow one’s inner conviction. Also, it takes a pretty compelling stand on body shaming.
Except, there’s much fancy and enchantment in Shaandaar’s universe to trifle in intense stuff like reality and convention. If life’s moments were but an endless session of think out loud and each scene a comic book panel expressed in stickers and speech balloons where trouble is at worst a smiley wearing a frown.
It’s the kind of experience that thrives not on story but telling. Shaandaar’s charm lies in Bahl’s treatment, employing SFX and animation in abundance, which is perfectly timed and enhances ordinary seconds into attractive ones.
Be it the prologue about a Pixar-faced cutie and her caretaker, all those numerous plane-themed dreams doodled by a daddy for his sleepless baby or the daintily embroidered dragonflies on Alia Bhatt’s top spurting into life in her introduction scene to capture the impression she’s made on Shahid Kapoor at first sight, there are frequent such moments of wonder and drollery.
Amidst a destination wedding hosted at a majestic Yorkshire castle, the lavish program menu dishes out breakfast under a canopy of yellow wisteria, black and white ball dance, mehendi with Karan Johar and a funky, one-of-a-kind bachelor party for the bride. While we’re on the topic of revelry, loved how Bahl seamlessly introduces all the Amit Tridevi compositions into the narrative as well as their creative, kinetic choreography (Bosco-Caesar).
The purpose of this stylish shaadi (shot by Anil Mehta) is to bring Shahid’s dishy wedding planner close to Alia’s geeky sister of the bride, explore her reel dad Pankaj Kapoor’s apprehension over the same as well as expose the glaring lack of compatibility between his elder daughter (reel and real) Sanah (graceful, natural, promising) and son-in-law-to-be Vikas Verma (nails it as the misogynist moron) around a pack of daffy relatives on either side.
Because (and not despite) of these obviously gimmicky elements, there’s an eternally sunny vibe to Shaandaar, which contains the oddities of its kooky characters from going overboard. A huge credit for it goes to its winning ensemble of actors and the sprightly chemistry they generate on celluloid.
Alia and Shahid convey a brand of exuberance that’s unaffected by the ensuing grandeur, they’re both a bohemian product of melancholy concealed in madness. Alia translates it in her wardrobe too. At some point, she’s sporting a kitschy jacket sewn with utensils from a kitchen play-set.
Sushma Seth, with her glowering eyes and ruby red lips, is a scream. The ever-reliable Pankaj Kapoor finds the right balance for Shaandaar’s wit and warmth. But Sanjay Kapoor’s blingy flamboyance isn’t comic enough, even if some of the Sindhi jokes are, to shine against so much finesse.
As one of the characters quizzes, why must we do every thing out of necessity, why can’t few things done for the fun of it, Shaandaar is simply fun, fun, fun and frothy enough to pull it off.