Heroine (IPA: [ˈhɛroʊɪn]) is a 2012 Indian drama film directed, written, and co-produced by Madhur Bhandarkar. Revolving around the life of a once successful film actress whose career is on the decline, the film features Kareena Kapoor as the protagonist along with actors Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda and Rakesh Bapat. Additionally, the project also stars Shahana Goswami, Divya Dutta, Helen, Shillpi Sharma, Mugdha Godse and Lillete Dubey in supporting roles. Heroine released on 21 September 2012 across 2000 screens. Kareena Kapoor’s performance was highly acclaimed and is considered to be one of her best. Kapoor received a Filmfare Award nomination under the Best Actress Category for her performance.
A journalist reports on the life of Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor), a renowned actress and film heroine, describing her as unstable and problematic, but damaged and lonely. Through a flashback, we are shown Mahi’s relationship with leading actor, Aryan (Arjun Rampal). Aryan is going through a divorce with his wife whilst dating Mahi. The couple makes a sex tape of themselves. When Mahi comes to know about an intimate scene Aryan is shooting for a movie, she creates a scene on the set, which upsets Aryan. The couple reconciles but Mahi is repeatedly insulted by Aryan’s wife. While driving back from a party with Aryan, she raises the topic of his wife, which results in her being thrown out of the car.
Realising her place in Aryan’s life, Mahi goes into depression, putting her career in decline. A friend convinces Mahi to leave the past behind her and re-enter the industry so Mahi decides to rejuvenate her career. She employs a public relations manager, Pallavi (Divya Dutta), who uses sensationalist tactics to reinvent Mahi’s image. Mahi starts a relationship with the Vice Captain of the Indian National Cricket team, Angad Paul (Randeep Hooda). Soon, her personal and professional life is stable once again. On the advice of Pallavi, she uses Angad’s connections to get a role in a big budget film. The lead actor of the film, Abbas Khan, a married playboy, attempts to initiate an affair with her. She rejects him, which causes him to seek revenge. He demands that the director re-edit the movie so that story becomes about him and an item girl. Mahi is dissatisfied despite the film being a success, and in a desperate attempt to prove her acting skills, works in a low-budget art film for months. Angad proposes to her but she feels that they should concentrate on their careers. This causes their relationship to end. The art film never completes, and Mahi goes into depression again. She is also denied the opportunity to adopt a child, due to her history of alcoholism and psychiatric problems. Since she cannot get a role in big-budget productions, she decides to work on a low-budget film with newcomers.
Mahi meets Aryan at a wedding, and he apologises. The two rekindle their relationship. Aryan says that he wants her to do a big budget film with him but the director is reluctant to cast her as she has lost her appeal. Mahi becomes obsessed with the thought of losing the role to another heroine. At a poorly-attended press conference for an upcoming film, Mahi is mocked by journalists who inform her that the director has cast another actress opposite Aryan. Distraught, Mahi and Pallavi decide to create controversy by leaking the sex tape of her and Aryan. The video becomes a viral sensation and as a result, the low-budget film becomes an instant hit.
Mahi’s success is short-lived. She starts questioning her career and life choices. She finally decides to leave the industry after her agent Rashid Bhai, a father figure to her, quits, and Shagufta Rizvi (Helen), a veteran actress she respected and admired, dies. At the end, Mahi is shown walking alone in a foreign country, and on being asked if she is Mahi Arora, she replies she is not.
Kareena Kapoor as Mahi Arora: She is the main protagonist of the film. A falling superstar who has a bipolar personality, she struggle between her life and career choices ultimately leading to tragic consequences.
Arjun Rampal as Aryan Khanna: A Bollywood Superstar, who is in love with Mahi, but does not accept his relationship with her publicly, his ex-wife keeps taunting him about his relationship which leads to his breakup with the former. However, later he patches up with Mahi only to break up with her permanently due to a misunderstanding.
Sanjay Suri as Abbas Khan: Another Bollywood Superstar, who is really egoistic. He likes to flirt repeatedly with his co-stars despite being warned by his wife. When Mahi refuses to give in to his offer, he gets her role cut in his film and hires another Bollywood Heroine Gayatri to do an item number and stealing the spotlight from the former.
Randeep Hooda as Angad Paul: Hooda was cast by the director to essay the role of a cricketer. Prior to the start of principal photography, actor Arunoday Singh was chosen to play the role, but was later dropped from the film due to unknown reasons. Media reports began speculating the name of several actors (such as Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Prateik Babbar) though Bhandarkar later confirmed that he had selected Hooda after seeing his performance in Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster (2011). As a way to make his character more believable, Hooda began taking tips and lessons from cricketer Virender Sehwag.
Govind Namdeo as Mahi Arora’s devoted secretary Rashid Bhai.
Raqesh Vashisth as Sameer Khan: Raqesh was cast in November 2011 to play “one of [Kapoor’s] lovers”. The director announced that Raqesh Vashisth’s character would be kept under wraps along with a few other characters such as that of Goswami’s and Dutta’s.
Shahana Goswami as Promita Roy: Goswami was selected to play an important character in the film.
Divya Dutta as Pallavi Narayan: Along with Goswami, Dutta was also selected to play an important character in the film. Pallavi is a tough-talking publicist who is expert in image building. She helps Mahi resurrect her career when she fades into oblivion. She almost succeeds in bringing Mahi to the top but due to the latter’s insecurities and failed relationships, her career faces a setback. Later on, Pallavi helps Mahi once again in bringing her back to the spotlight but that results in tragic consequences.
Pallavi Sharda as Gayatri
Mugdha Godse as Rhea Mehra: Godse was roped in to play the character of Rhea Mehra, a rival heroine who is jealous of Mahi Arora’s success.
Helen as Shagufta Rizvi: Helen was cast by the director to essay the role of a senior actress.
Shillpi Sharma as Isha: Sharma, who described Bhandarkar as “a family friend” was approached by the director to play a glamorous role. In preparation for the role, Sharma was required to lose weight and sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Arora: Dubey was cast by the director to essay the role of Kapoor’s mother.
Ranvir Shorey as Tapan Da: Described as the director’s “lucky mascot”, Shorey was roped in to make a cameo appearance.
Ankita Ghazan as friend of both Mahi Arora and Aryan Khanna. Also the industrialist’s daughter who unites Mahi and Aryan through her wedding
Dilnaz Irani as Tamanna
Pooja Chopra as Shaheen (special appearance)
Rashmi Nigam as Gauri