Shehzada is the perfect movie right now for Kartik Aaryan. Look at his career trajectory. An outsider who struggled for a decade in an industry that reeks of nepotism, and suddenly one day, he sniffs the throne. He achieves success when no one else does, believing that he will soon rise through the ranks and sit on the throne of superstardom, succeeding the declining Khans and Kumars. Interestingly, the story of the movie Shehzada foreshadows the same.

The bane of Bantu’s (Kartik Aryaan) existence is his father, played by Paresh Rawal, who has miraculously lost his comic timing in recent years faster than Babil Khan’s character lost his voice in Qala. The older man likes putting down his son at every opportunity, reminding him of his fate for having been born into a middle-class family. He seems more interested in his boss’s (Ronit Roy) son Raj than his own, and there’s a reason for it.

The chaos ensues when Bantu finds out the truth about his father and enters the house, which should have truly been his. The premise is funny. But it needs more than a premise and few capable actors to make even a movie that is only intended to do fan service. You need witty dialogues and, most importantly, a competent director. Hussain Dalal and Rohit Dhawan provide their best shot at being “incompetence” personified. After putting myself through the 145 minutes of torture, I can report that they have been more than successful in being that, despite the fact that the “star” of the film tried very hard to come close.

It would be a crime to state that Shehzada is a remake of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. It copied the frames, sequences, and scripts from the Allu Arjun starrer but totally missed the point regarding how or why the latter worked so well. Certain superstar-driven movies should never be remade, and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo falls in that category. Allu Arjun has an unmistakable charm and charisma to his personality and screen presence that any can’t recreate. And this is the first of the many problems regarding Shehzada.

Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo was designed entirely around its superstar- Allu Arjun. It had typical action sequences and humorous gags that only Allu Arjun could pull off. That movie had all its Masala elements but was designed like a Mass movie, the existence of which is only dedicated to portraying its superstar in a certain way. And it had worked hugely commercially. So this gives Aaryan a platform to work his magic on the tried and tested material and solidify his claim for the throne.

But Aaryan ruins this golden opportunity with a lazy endeavor. Neither he plays the character in his own way, nor the makers of the movie changed the tone and pitch of the movie to suit their actor. The result is disastrous. Kartik Aryan’s laboriously dragged body acting is no match to Allu Arjun’s casual charm.

Shehzada (2023) Review

Shehzada is no slick entertainer like Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. It is another timid attempt like many Anees Bazmee, and David Dhawan movies have been in recent years. Kartik is a fine dancer and is decent at comedy scenes, but he doesn’t have enough prowess to steal a scene or carrying a movie on his shoulders. He struggles hard to uplift this jaded material with slo-mo action choreography and whatever Bollywood’s standard of witty is these days. But everything is repetitive.

The VFX is shoddy, and the studio looks far from reality. The visual palette is comically bright, and the tone of the movie is too loud. Kartik’s last movie had an item number which was a remake, so this one gets the same. Even the disco included, and the dance moves appear to be a parody of an earlier song that resonated with the youth.

The changes made to the script of the movie only do it a disservice. Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’s funniest scene was the boardroom scene, which despite being a rehashed scene from numerous movies, works very well within the narrative. I have no clue why Shehzada leaves that scene out. Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo was released just after the Pandemic, so my joke referencing Yuhan made sense, but it doesn’t land in Shehzada at all. The Rajamouli joke and the many other gags have no relevance to the action in place- and leave you wondering why they were not rewritten to suit this film’s target audience.

The film has many borderline offensive elements and plot lines, but I forgot to carry my brain with me, so I couldn’t retain their memories at all and for good. Kriti Sanon plays a lawyer and love interest who has nothing to do except look pretty wearing short outfits inside the chamber- but that’s the least predictable in the film. The ending was predictable anticlimactic, and lackluster. Silly, goofy, or woof-woofy? I can hardly find any excuses to praise Shehzada.

Kartik Aaryan’s career is just short of reaching a pinnacle, and Shehzada does a huge disservice to his fans, whoever they might be. He has a neighborhood good-boy charm, and the foolish grins do help when he is supported by at least a fresh screenplay and a good supporting cast. But stepping into Allu Arjun’s shoes necessitates exposing your talents and showcasing them to the fullest.

And he fails at every department- other than being the energetic guy, his rage, glance, and moves have no swag. There are no set-tail moments at all when he slams the baddies one after one. Kartik is still far from finding his own mannerisms and creating the superstar lore that can help him encash his image for years. Until then, he will never be a reliable actor to do mass movies, and a Shehzada being a dud in the most holistic dimension should serve as a wake-up call to him.

Related to Shehzada (2023): Lost (2023) ‘Zee5’ Movie Review

Shehzada (2023) Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Shehzada (2023) Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Paresh Rawal
Where to watch Shehzada

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