SHAANDAAR starts off with a cartoon animation (flashback) story narrated by Naseeruddin Shah, wherein he ‘introduces’ the audiences to Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapoor) and his adopted daughter Alia (Alia Bhatt). The animated narration then moves on to a real life ‘accidental meeting’ between the wedding organizer Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor) and Bipin Arora, when Jaginder’s bike crashes into Bipin’s car.
Bipin is travelling with his wife and two daughters Alia and Isha (Sanah Kapoor) and this is when Jaginder’s eyes spot Alia and he falls for her at that very moment. The story then moves to Isha’s destination wedding named ‘Shandaar’ in the exotic countryside of UK. And the man in charge of the entire proceedings is none other than Jagjinder Joginder. The whole wedding is nothing but a ‘financial arrangement’ (read ‘deal’) between Bipin Arora’s mother aka Dadimaa (Sushma Seth) and the ‘richy rich’ Sindhi family helmed by Harry Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor), who wears his ‘Sindhi-ism’ up his sleeve and also around his neck! The bankrupt Aroras think that the marriage with the Fundwani family will get them out of bankruptcy.
Understanding the ‘importance’ of her wedding with the Fundwanis, Isha starts to compromise at every step for the sake of her family, despite being endlessly ridiculed by her would-be husband Robin Fundwani and his friends. On the other hand, love starts blossoming between the two insomniacs Jagjinder and Alia, something that Bipin doesn’t seem to approve of. While everybody is really busy with the wedding preparations, Jagjinder and Alia leave no stone unturned in making Isha feel special. During one of the wedding events, the whole family, desperate for veg food, ends up eating hash brownies and mushrooms and get high.
It is during this time that Bipin rattles down a startling revelation about his real relationship with Alia. What is the actual relationship between Bipin and Alia, does anyone bother to listen to Isha and her feelings, does Isha ultimately get married into the Fundwani family for her family’s sake, what ultimately happens to Jagjinder and Alia’s insomnia and do they find a cure for the same through love, is what forms the rest of the film.
The film’s director Vikas Bahl, whose last film was the National award winning QUEEN, makes a different kind of film this time. SHAANDAAR has a fairy tale kind of feel to it with lots of VFX, animations, exotic UK locations and big expensive sets. The film is very high on glitz and glamour. It is a larger than life film, with funny and quirky characters (dominating grandmother, scheming mom etc.) and to a large extent, that does the trick for the film. Vikas has extracted good performances from most of his actors. He has also tackled issues such as adoption, family relationships and sacrifice, ‘compromised relationships’, insomnia and most importantly one’s body size and self-esteem issues due to the same, very smartly. Even though the film does not have a strong storyline, the humorous sequences keep the audiences engaged. The film starts lagging in its second half though but manages to save itself in time. The climax of the film is a bit silly, but it lands up working in the favour of the film.