Shehzada, with its muddled and regressive sociopolitics, is barely funny

Karishma Jangid
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Shehzada, with its muddled and regressive politics, is barely funny

Upon learning that he's the son of a wealthy industrialist, Bantu, the 'Shehzada', tries to solve his real family's problems.

'Elite people's morality and poor people's stupidity are respectively in their genes' is the theme of Shehzada. Upbringing, whether poor or good, does not affect a person's conduct. Make it make sense. Rohit Dhawan's Shehzada, with its deluded ideology, tries hard to be an entertainer but ends up being just an average watch. Upon their birth, Valmiki (Paresh Rawal) swaps his son with that of his employer, the CEO of Jindal Industries, Randeep Nanda (Ronit Roy). Thus, Valmiki's son Raj (Ankur Rathee) grows up with riches, whereas Randeep's son Bantu (Kartik Aaryan) grows up emotionally neglected by Valmiki. Upon learning the truth, Bantu solves the Jindal family's troubles. 

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The story makes for apt masala movie material but the script wavers throughout. The characters are so dull and typical. Bantu is your regular hero who can beat a mob, is always right, and gets the heroine. He saves his Maa and is willing to sacrifice everything for his family. Because he fights to protect her, the intelligent, powerful lawyer, Samara (Kriti Sanon) falls for him instantaneously, even though on their first encounter, he called her "kadak, tota, patola, lambe taango wali". Samara never goes to court; her only job is to love Bantu. Valmiki is poor, evil, and jealous of his employer's wealth, and stereotypically, he limps. Raj has graduated from abroad but is so empty-headed that he travels from his room to the dining hall in a toy car.

The actors have not lifted the characters either. The movie runs mostly on Aaryan, who tries hard to be a masala action hero but is unable to carry it off. Masala heroes draw you in and make you dream with them, but here you are always aware that Aaryan is acting. Sanon barely has any screen time, with her job being limited to looking glamorous. Roy and Rawal are convincing, but Manisha Koirala's (as Bantu's mother) acting potential has been wasted. Most of Hussain Dalal's dialogues work, but some, like "Swag bhi, sanskar bhi, aur ghar me car bhi," are cringe-worthy. Post-interval, the film makes you laugh out loud a few times, but most scenes barely get a chuckle out of you. Jokes like "Chameli ka haar le ke aa "Is umar me Jindal sahab ko Chameli se pyar ho gaya?" are downright unoriginal. Many funny dialogues have been overused, rendering them unfunny. The only person who, despite having a redundant character, is comical is Rajpal Yadav

Along with comedy, unnecessary songs, and action scenes are thrown into the mix. Aryan's walking and running have been slowed innumerable times, perhaps to exaggerate the emotional impact, but it becomes an exhaustive distraction. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the film is its inconsistent messaging and socio politics. In one scene, Bantu says, "Gender dekh ke pyar thodi karte hai." In the next, he follows her boss on her morning run, and later he asks her, "Kabhi toh pant pehen liya karo." Fatphobia is there too. "Mote bachche kaun kidnap karta hai?" says a character, and people in the theatre laugh. Characters change their behavior within seconds without any solid motivation. When Valmiki learns that Nanda's newborn son has stopped breathing, he puts his son in the former's place out of kindness. However, when the supposedly dead baby starts breathing, Valmiki turns evil and keeps it. What inspired this change? We don't know. In one scene, the villain lets the hero take his car to save the same man that he tried to kill. The plot is full of ridiculous plot holes. The worst aspect of the film's politics is its class commentary. Implying that Bantu, the son of an elite, is moralistic and clever even though he was raised poorly whereas Raj, the poor clerk's son, is idiotic even though he was raised lavishly. The elite industrialists are sad but ethical and moralistic. The poor clerk is the jealous villain. By the end, you are left wondering whether the little comedy was worth tolerating the ignorant messaging for two and a half hours.

Shehzada is currently running in theatres.

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