Kartik Aaryan is the celebrated prince of Rohit Dhawan’s Shehzada, which has all the trademark elements of a family entertainer with generous doses of comedy, drama, romance and action. A remake of the 2020 Telugu superhit Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, starring Allu Arjun in the lead role, Dhawan takes this film into Aaryan’s comfort zone — a role that does not feel very distant from his past turns in films such as Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 or Luka Chuppi. No wonder then that Aaryan has chosen Shehzada to turn a new leaf in his career, as the film’s co-producer.
The kernel of Shehzada’s story is nothing that we have not seen in Bollywood before. Valmiki (Paresh Rawal), an employee of the affluent Jindal family, swaps his newborn boy with the newborn boy of his rich boss Randeep (Ronit Roy), the son-in-law of the Jindals, so that his son may get a better future.
Valmiki’s biological son Raj (Ankur Raathee), raised in the comforts of the Jindal household, grows up to be pampered and meek. Bantu (Kartik Aaryan), on the other hand, has a rough childhood in his adopted home which he thinks is his birth family. The ill-treatment from Valmiki and the modest living circumstances turn Bantu into a confident but superbly cocky young man.
Bantu once happens to save Randeep during an assassination attempt, which paves his way to enter the Jindal household. The rest of the film is about how Bantu wins over his blood relations and brings a dysfunctional family together.
In a role that is custom-made for him, Aaryan does what he does best. He delivers his lines with swag, turns on his street-boy charm, beats up goons and waltzes into the audience’s hearts with his good looks and smile. There’s also a long monologue, which has become his thing since Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, which is also a treat for his fans.
Some of the enjoyable parts of Shehzada include his banter with Paresh Rawal, the slow-motion action sequence in the climax and the song-and-dance sequences, especially when he shakes a leg to Pritam’s title track sung by Sonu Nigam.
Where Shehzada suffers is in the abundance of subplots which are hastily strewn together into an incoherent narrative. The rest of the cast — Paresh Rawal, Ronit Roy, Manisha Koirala, Sachin Khedekar — pale in comparison to Bantu’s larger-than-life persona. Perhaps the biggest casualty among them is Kriti Sanon, who is there as Bantu’s love interest only to add star-value to the production.