Director: Apoorva Lakhia

Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhanth Kapoor, Priyanka Setia, Rajesh Tailang

In a parallel universe, there is a self-help group for Hindi film actors who’ve gloriously failed to play terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. I’d imagine that the latest entrants, Farhan Akhtar (for Ashim Ahluwalia’s Daddy) and Siddhanth Kapoor (in the laughably bad Haseena Parkar), would be met with the maximum amount of sympathetic sighs and “Thank you for sharing” claps. These folks have done more harm to the image of “Bhai” – he who must not be named by a petrified industry intent on monetizing his legacy – than any of the world’s authorities over the years. I’m convinced that these two are strategically created undercover police moles whose talents have been unleashed onto big screens to anger and lure D out of hiding. It is an ingenious conspiracy.

In Apoorva Lakhia’s “Biopic for Dummies” film, the terrorist resembles Shakti Kapoor so much that it’s difficult to look past his whiskey glass and blonde squeeze from his kitschy Dubai mansion in the hope that he pulls down his retro pants to reveal trademark Raja Babu bermuda trunks.

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But it’s actually Siddhanth Kapoor’s sister, Shraddha Kapoor – who plays D’s eponymous sister with two gulab jamuns (or soggy golgappas?) lodged firmly in her cheeks to denote weight and ageing – that deserves all the headlines. She misconstrues a young Haseena to be a dreamy Dongri-chawl version of an asthmatic Ameesha Patel from Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage – notice the way she trembles as if she were parodying an anxiety attack on her wedding night – and an older Haseena to be, well, not that old.

It isn’t completely her fault, though. The movie starts with her appearing on stand in court so that two of the country’s most incompetent lawyers can become narrative devices and argue over her “handling of bhai’s business” and role in her infamous brother’s nefarious activities. The prosecution lawyer (Priyanka Setia), who spends most of her time grinning lustily at and condescending on an expressionless Parkar, begins by asking her how an illiterate lady like Parkar built such a vast real-estate empire.

Parkar, like a true Bollywood flashback trooper, decides to narrate bhai’s – and by extension, her own – story right from their childhood days. This is reminiscent of the scene where a mute Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) begins gesturing his story right from his birth when asked by an exasperated Inspector (Saurabh Shukla) about the bank heist he just pulled. Except, Haseena Parkar isn’t as self-aware.

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Very often, the irritated defense lawyer asks his counterpart to please come to the point. The judge – who also has a devious smile when he addresses Parkar – even tells her this is not a novel. But she is a long-form lawyer of sorts, and allows Parkar to indulge in the most pointless Wikipedia-meets-RGV tale of all time. Amar Mohile – who I’m convinced, is not a musician but a troll bot – scores every scene like either someone is dying or stuck in a live-action Tom-and-Jerry skit.

125 minutes crawl by as we are forced – at gunpoint – to admire and sympathize with the graph of a reluctant woman who loses her loved ones, and makes millions in between, because her only “crime” is that she is her brother’s sister. Not once is D shown giving orders to execute the Bombay blasts – it is only suggested through scenes of him lying saucily in a Dubai bathtub while watching news channels – and even the judge ends with a “moral of the story” lecture that praises Parkar for her resolve and initiative. Who funded this film, again?

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I think it’s time we also address Bollywood’s flashback problem. I need an answer. This has nagged at me ever since I was a kid. When a character narrates a life story in court or at any public place, do they also narrate the songs they sing when they fall in love? Do they say, “…and then we rolled in the sheets. I blushed. He gasped. We spent happy musical days together because Rangon bina jaise ho asmaan, khushboo bina jaise behti hawa, tere bina ooo,” while the lawyers sing along with them and provide percussion?

Or do they passionately narrate their tale as if they are struggling screenwriters trying to impress a potential producer? I don’t see how the latter is possible with two stale gulab jamuns (for continuity’s sake, Kapoor slummed it out) lodged in the cheeks.

Rating:   star

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