Bollywood Reviews, Movie Reviews

Shehzada (2023): The Tale Of A Deprived “Prince”

Bantu, the son of billionaire industrialist Randeep Nanda, got separated from his biological parents at birth. He was switched at birth by an employee in Randeep’s company named Valmiki, who switched his own son for him. Valmiki did this so that his real son, who now became Randeep’s son without his knowledge, could get a better life. After switching, he brought up Bantu like his own son.

But what will happen when Bantu grows up and finds out about his reality? Will “Prince” Bantu come back to his real parents and regain his throne? To find out, watch Rohit Dhawan’s “Shehzada” which was released worldwide on February 17, 2023 featuring the new-age Bollywood sensation Kartik Aaryan as Bantu!

Introducing Kartik Aaryan As Shehzada Bantu!

Shehzada (2023) Official Trailer:

The Good:

Mind-Blowing Dialogues!

Even if the screenplay of Shehzada appears faulty, which I have discussed in the next section, you are sure to get astounded by the power-packed dialogues in this movie. Allow me to translate some high-voltage dramatic Hindi dialogues from this movie for you.

One dialogue by Kartik Aaryan goes, “Jab Baat Family Pe Aaye, Toh Discussion Nahi Karte, Action Karte!” meaning, “When it comes to protecting my family, I don’t discuss, I do action!”

Presenting Kartik Aaryan as Shehzada Bantu! Will Kartik Aaryan’s royal blood in Shehzada make him the next mega star in Bollywood? Check out my honest opinion to find out!

Another classy dialogue by Kartik Aaryan goes, “Ameer Bacchon Ka Yahi Problem Hai. Lekin Teri Galti Nahi Hai. Tune Khilone Maange, Tujhe Khilone Ki Dukaan Mili. Tune Chutte Mange, Tujhe Credit Card Mila. Tune Doodh Maanga, Tujhe Kheer Mili Woh Bhi Almond Milk Waali. Bhai, Ise Kehte Hain Nepotism.” Bantu narrated this dialogue to Raj Nanda (Ankur Rathee), Randeep Nanda’s foster son,  who was switched with him at birth. Bantu, who should have been the industrialist’s son, was being raised by a lower-middle-class man and instead Raj Nanda was enjoying the luxuries that Bantu deserved.

This dialogue means, “There is a problem with every rich kid, but I didn’t mean to say it’s your fault. You asked for toys and you got an entire toy factory. You asked for pocket money and you got a credit card. You asked for milk and instead, you got pudding with almond milk. Brother, this is what we call Nepotism!”

If you had seen the 2011 Bollywood romantic-drama “Pyaar Ka Punchnama” in which Kartik Aaryan debuted, there was a scene in that movie where he delivers his dialogue in a single breath at top-speed! This dialogue delivery in Shehzada is somewhat inspired by that movie. Here too, Kartik Aaryan as Bantu abuses Raj Nanda at top speed in a single breath! I must say, Kartik’s goofy punches do come in handy to him at times.

Kartik Aaryan And Kriti Sanon’s Chemistry

Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon in a still from Shehzada

Kartik Aaryan and his co-star Kriti Sanon had great on-screen chemistry in Shehzada. Kriti Sanon is pretty tall for a woman, standing at 5 feet 10 inches. So, any short male actor beside her won’t fit the role. Kartik Aaryan, being over six feet tall, matched up to her pretty well. Besides, they shot some cheesy romantic tracks together for this movie.  Check out the track “Munda Sona Hu Main” from Shehzada. I bet this track does bring back the 1990s Bollywood dramatic nostalgia! This track appears somewhat similar to Bollywood legend Govinda’s groovy dance tracks of the 1990s.

Also, check out the recreated version of Salman Khan’s rocking track “Character Dheela”, remastered as “Character Dheela 2.0” in Shehzada featuring Kartik Aaryan! I find the picturization of this track to be similar to that of the “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.0” track which also featured Kartik Aaryan where he performed some swaggy dance moves with ladies.

Colorful Visuals

The cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee and Sanjay Gupta in Shehzada comes packed with colorful visuals. The scenic backgrounds and colorful costumes of the performers added to the cinematic beauty. It was indeed a pleasurable watching experience. The sequences in Shehzada were extensively shot in high-profile cities like Delhi and Mumbai in India and also in the beautiful island nation of Mauritius which is known for its mesmerizing beaches and lagoons.

The Bad:

Unoriginal Plot

The plot of Shehzada is copied from top to bottom! The story of Shehzada has been adapted from the 2020 Telugu film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo of Trivikram Srinivas. The Telugu version was entertaining solely because of its main lead, Allu Arjun. However, when you remake a South Indian movie and present it before Hindi audiences, you need to be careful about one factor. That is the audience’s perspective! As for the Hindi audiences go, I don’t think that they will appreciate this Hindi remake very much.

Absurd Screenplay

The first shortcoming in the screenplay of Shehzada is that the comedy falls flat on its face! I am saying this because this movie has been tagged as a comedy-drama. However, upon watching it I found that its comedy flow seriously lacked the basic element called “humor”.

The plot of Shehzada is such that its screenplay should have been filled with emotions. But the bizarre lack of emotions in the screenplay also startled me. After all, this is a serious story! A son of a rich man got exchanged during his birth. When he comes to know about it, that situation is no joke!

Tollywood’s power star Allu Arjun as Bantu in the original Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo

Now coming to the major shortcomings in the screenplay. You will be amazed when I start telling you how many there are! In fact, I believe that this film should be a lesson for filmmaking students on how “not to” write a screenplay!

A scene goes where Randeep Nanda (Ronit Roy), who is a renowned industrialist as well as Bantu’s biological father, gets terribly injured. The injury could have cost his life. The thing which astonished me is that after seeing him injured, none of his office staff members came to his aid. It was only Bantu and his girlfriend Samara (Kriti Sanon) who took him to the hospital while everybody else seemed to be mere onlookers. Upon reaching the hospital, Samara told Bantu, “You proceed with him (Randeep Nanda) to the operation theater while I inform his family about this incident”. I say, why?!  Aren’t there his staff members who should have informed his family? Was it all left upon Bantu and Samara only to save Randeep Nanda’s life while thousands of his staff members were simply there to watch his plight? Let alone helping, didn’t they have the minimum courtesy to even inform their boss’ family members? By the way, I would say this scene does signify the real situation in India. Here, if somebody suffers some accident, be it on the road, you would see several passersby simply witnessing the incident without helping the victim who is lying helplessly on the road.

Kartik Aaryan in another still from Shehzada

After recovering, now it was time for Randeep Nanda to thank Bantu for saving his life. This scene was hilarious when it should have been something serious. The way they conversed when Randeep met Bantu, believe me, nobody talks like that in the modern days. It seemed that this conversation between the two looked apt to have occurred some 100 years ago.

Let me point out some more absurd scenes from this movie. Randeep Nanda and his wife Yashoda (Manisha Koirala) had some grievous misunderstandings between them for ages. When the scene came where they resolved their age-old misunderstandings, was supposed to be serious and emotional. But instead, the scene was half-baked and amusing. People in the theater hall, including me, couldn’t stop laughing when this scene played.

Ronit Roy as industrialist and Bantu’s biological father, Randeep Nanda in Shehzada

Another scene is where Bantu comes to know from his foster father Valmiki (Paresh Rawal) that he was switched at birth and his real father is Randeep Nanda. This scene was direly absurd. This is some serious talk, isn’t it? A guy suddenly comes to know from the man who raised him that he is not actually his real dad. But in this scene, Bantu and Valmiki are shown strolling and sitting somewhere on the road where Valmiki narrated such a serious incident to him. And the worst part is that in such a serious scene where Bantu was supposed to have cried after knowing his reality, you won’t believe this, all of a sudden after being emotional he starts acting weird in a comical manner. I felt that the filmmakers might have wanted to show here that Bantu is absolutely nuts!

Paresh Rawal as Bantu’s foster father, Valmiki in Shehzada

Kartik Aaryan As Bantu

I could have digested all these absurd sequences if Kartik Aaryan had the swag and attitude that Allu Arjun had in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. Allu Arjun as Bantu carried himself so well in the original Telugu movie that it became a blockbuster! But talking of Kartik Aaryan, you might be wondering why I am not appreciating his performance when I appreciated his dialogue delivery and chemistry with his co-star. Kartik Aaryan as an actor is good no doubt, but he lacks that “X-factor” that Allu Arjun has! So mind it, here I am comparing him to Allu Arjun, who is the “power star” of Tollywood. When compared to Allu Arjun, Kartik Aaryan simply fails to pack on the punch. Kartik Aaryan may have a huge female fan base. Ladies can’t resist watching him and his movies. But I don’t think his charm is enough to make us men get too engrossed in this movie.

There is an antagonist in Shehzada by the name Saran (Sunny Hinduja). Saran was Randeep Nanda’s arch-rival in business. The amusing part is that this Saran character is bent upon tormenting Randeep Nanda and his family. He wants Randeep to withdraw a complaint that he had filed against him and his business. He appeared more comical than a villain during his regular tiffs with Bantu.

The Verdict:

Kriti Sanon in a still from Shehzada

Veteran actors like Ronit Roy as Randeep Nanda and Paresh Rawal as Valmiki performed well in Shehzada and made their presence felt. My expectations were a bit high from Paresh Rawal as he happened to be one of the best comedians in Bollywood during the 1990s. However, he carried out his character aptly as the script demanded. Ankur Rathee’s performance as Raj Nanda was irritating. Rajpal Yadav played a comical police inspector and he was hilarious to watch in his brief role. I am eagerly awaiting the comedy roller-coaster “Malamaal Weekly 2”  which will feature the two great comedians Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav in the lead. A lot of characters have been forcefully introduced in Shehzada. I believe the filmmakers did this just to add to the comedy and increase the movie’s run duration.

Rohit Dhawan’s adapted screenplay as well as the direction in Shehzada are weak. At times it happens that the script may not be that good but the narrative style of the screenplay happens to be so well done that the audiences are bound to get engrossed in the movie. But nothing like that happens here. In fact, the narration and presentation of this comical action-drama are quite weak.

There are certain sequences that made this film look fake. By “fake” I mean to indicate that when you watch a film, you shouldn’t feel that you are watching one. The drama should unfold realistically. But in Shehzada, at certain instances, overacting in the name of comedy did make the drama look unreal. I agree with the fact that a certain amount of overacting is necessary to add humor to a comedy film. But exaggerated overacting is not at all healthy! Editor Ritesh Soni should have kept the sequences a bit precise because certain scenes in this movie are highly stretched-out which may bore the audiences.

Even the action scenes in Shehzada, which have been choreographed by South India’s award-winning stunt choreographer Anal Arasu, are not as exciting as they were expected to be. Shehzada has been tagged as an “action-comedy” and the action scenes in this movie do play a major role in deciding its TRP. I am not saying that the action scenes are “bad”, but they certainly aren’t good enough to afford the thrill!

Overall, I feel that the Hindi remake “Shehzada” may not be as appealing to the Hindi audiences as the original Telugu film “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” was to its South Indian audiences. Of course, if you don’t understand Telugu, you can very well consider watching Shehzada instead of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo to experience Kartik Aaryan’s eccentricity on the big screens.

Shehzada Review
  • Acting - 7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
  • Watchability - 8.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 5/10
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