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Shehzada 2023 Movie Review
After the Shahenshah and Badshah, fans had been hoping for the Shehzada of Bollywood to arrive. But while the film is out, we wonder if Kartik Aaryan can be called Shehzada yet. Moreover, we wonder if he would want to remember the film in the long run of his career. He would have to, as he is one of the producers here. However, I am not sure if the audience would want to remember watching the film, or if it had anything that would stay back!
Shehzada is the official remake of Allu Arjun and Pooja Hegde-starrer Ala Vainkunthapurramuloo. The Telugu original had its problematic parts – an entire song being dedicated to the slender legs of the female lead, the male lead ogling at it in a way that would make you uncomfortable or him being friends with a guy who had earlier harassed his sister. These parts have totally been done away with, and several characters have been chopped out, for simplicity’s sake probably. But in the bid to not be different, the film only manages to hang somewhere in between. Neither does it turn out to be a different or refreshing film, nor can it match the entertainment that the original provided. All the portions that established the swag that Bantu had and made the audience root for him, hooting and clapping at the same time have gone chop chop chop!
But, that’s a lot of comparison I am already bringing in, isn’t it? Let’s get into Shehzada from just the perspective of a brand new film. It is about Bantu (Kartik Aaryan), the Shehzada of the rich and powerful Jindal family who gets swapped at birth with Raj (Ankur Rathee), the son of their employee Valmiki (Paresh Rawal). This was not a balidan, but rather Valmiki’s selfishness to see his son grow up in a life of full of luxury. But can you really take away the shine from a diamond? So, will Bantu be able to reunite with his real family and prove to be the asli Shehzada?
The film is directed by Rohit Dhawan, who is also behind the adapted screenplay. He has made entertaining films in the past, like Dishoom. However, here he just fails to handle the subject. He probably wanted to make his film crisper, and in an attempt to do so, he missed out on focusing on the entertainment. The first part is stretched and the film picks up pace in the second half. However, the narrative lacks the elements to give the film coherence or to get the audiences involved in it. The audience will always feel detached from what is going on the screen.
Part of it is also because of the choppy editing, which, according to me, is the biggest flaw of the film. The scenes jump from one to the other, marring the entire viewing experience, especially in the first half. Not just that, the characters in the film even use references that were not shown! (SPOILER AHEAD) For example, a doctor wants Bantu to be present and Valmiki wonders why he is asking for him so much when the previous day he did not even want to see him! Well, the entire portion where the doctor did not like Bantu and did not want to see him went missing!
Adding to the woe was the awfully bad background score and the so-so forgettable songs. Not to always mention the original, but there were gems like Butta Bomma, Ramullo Ramulla and, of course, Sitarala Sirapadu. Those are replaced by songs that look unnecessary.
Another problem of the film is how it focuses way too much on Kartik Aaryan and consequently makes all the characters around him unforgettable. It is probably just Paresh Rawal who manages to add meat to his character with his brilliant performance. Everyone else- from Manisha Koirala to Ronit Roy and even Kriti Sanon are completely wasted. Sunny Hinduja had every potential to be the formidable villain that the film required, but he was not given enough space to even explore his character.
Coming to Kartik Aaryan, the challenge of fitting into a character that has been portrayed by Allu Arjun is huge. The actor performs with earnestness and does a decent job, but if you expect the swag that the Stylish star exuded, then that’s impossible. He is good, but the film proves that he has a lot to improve on, especially if he wants to venture into the genre of action. Again, thanks to the less screen space given to Kriti Sanon, even the romantic side of the actor has been marred. His comic timing remained good as expected.
Kriti Sanon is charming and looks beautiful on screen. She is an actress with huge potential and we can only wish she was given more scope in the film.
The dialogues are by Hussain Dalal, and no, it is not like Brahmastra. Here, in fact, things do work out in his favour.
However, the negatives outweigh the positives and if you ask me, I would rather watch Ala Vaikunthapurramullo (and probably skim through the extremely problematic parts and cringe through the rest), enjoy the songs and the action and Allu Arjun’s swag than watch Shehzada.