Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fashion: Movie critique

This always happens. You go to a movie expecting it to be the cat’s whiskers, and get sorely disappointed. Maybe it is because we have come to expect a lot from Madhur Bhandarkar’s movies, that “Fashion” just failed to grip. In parts it was episodic. In parts it was as if, instead of reading the usual tidbits on page 3*, we are watching them on celluloid.

(*Not to be confused with the movie “Page 3” by the same MB, which was very good and had a proper story.)

Is Madhur Bhandarkar going the Alfred Hitchcock/ Subhash Ghai way? Appearing in his movie as himself? Here a passing model even says, (disdainfully, i thought), “He’s making a movie on fashion!” Realistic is fine but this is like turning something inside out. If MB is real in the movie, and he is supposedly making the movie that we are watching, then does that make everything else real too? Obviously not, since such pains are taken to declare, “Any resemblance to any one is purely coincidental---“ etc. He could have been in the scene, but there need not have been any “explanatory” comment. That would have been smoother.

What i liked:

The temperamental, lisping designer played by Harsh Chhaya---there’s one underestimated actor for you.

Priyanka Chopra’s character was well fleshed out (er, figuratively, I mean---er—this pun too unintended!), innocent but ambitious, confident but vulnerable. Yet Meghna is not goody goody. Once she is established, she gives as good as she got earlier; a case in point being the way she makes Harsh Chhaya squirm. But why the bitchiness to the ace photographer, Rohit Roy? He had not been mean to her, had he?

The “booker” girl (the Komal Chautala character from Chak de!) pronouncing “lingerie” as it is spelt, and stoutly justifying it when the designer throws a fit at her pronunciation.

Mugdha Godse’s character is the most mature and generous, out of the three models. The compromise she makes is understandable.

Kangana did a good job, though she should watch out----she seems to be doing similar roles in other films too!

Kitu Gidwani’s character---she is an observer, offering only what is asked of her, making no judgements, just watching. There is a sardonic smile on her face as she watches Meghna make the same mistakes as others have done before her.

What i didn’t like:

Meghna’s father suddenly “encourages” her to go back, fight, get back what she lost. That’s all very nice, but does he know what she lost? He had problems with her doing a lingerie ad, but does he know about the drugs, the promiscuity? Is he OK with that? If he’s OK with it, then where is the conflict? I’d have liked it if his struggle against his principles had been shown. As it is, it looks like he asked her to go back because he felt she was pining for that life, whereas she came home seeking sanctuary after realizing how hollow she and her life were.

There was a similar let-down in “Laga Chunri Mein Daag”---if the family accepts the girl’s deviation from the straight and narrow, then, well, what is the song and dance about? It seems like the filmmaker just got bored with the story and decided to wind up!

Maybe we could all have a long discussion on “middle class” morality and other types of morality, if any!

I have not seen Chandni Bar properly, which must probably be MB’s best, nor Traffic Signal(Ahem, I have a short story by that name!) but going by Page3, Corporate, and now Fashion, the basic premise in these films seems to be---compromise. The protagonists struggle against the milieu they have been thrown into, or chosen, but at the end of the day, they settle down in that world, so what if a couple of their values fall by the wayside. (By the way, I have noted this also in prolific authors like Arthur Hailey and Michael Crichton. The backgrounds in each story are different, but Arthur Hailey’s basic theme is, a young Turk trying to bring about winds of change in the establishment, fighting against the reigning, ageing power-centre. Michael Chrichton’s stories are highly dramatic, adrenaline charged, but finally they boil down to a small secret being guarded at great cost.)

Yet, I would still say go watch the movie, at least to indulge in constructive criticism.


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