Since we did not have anything interesting for the weekend we decided to spend the evening in the local theatre showing Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Not being a regular Cinema buff the last Bhandarkar movie which I could recall having seen is Chandani Bar and do also recall having been moved by the sensitivity of the director to the plight of the women caught in the profession of singing and dancing at places of entertainment. Chandani Bar had an interesting storyline with many unpredictable twists and turns which kept the intelligent audience involved throughout the progress of the movie. Besides focussing on the life style of these professionals the film also gave the viewer an insight into the impossible options which confront a criminal trying to reform and lead a settled family life. It also painted a very sensitive picture of sufferings of the innocent youngster who has to carry the name tag of his dead parent who was in world of crime.
But sadly the latest movie which seeks to reflect the dilemma of the girls from respectable background who aspire to be fashion models has nothing of that sort to offer to a sensitive movie goer. The oft repeated theme of cruel exploitation of newcomers to the world of showbiz and the consequent heartbreaks and depression pushing them in realm of drug addiction has inspired creativity over the ages in fiction and films -remember Valley of Dolls from seventies . The present attempt by Bhandarker however proceeds on the presumption that the glare of repeated clips of fashion shows would make the audience forget the need for story line in the movie. The end product is glossary of fashion fare which may bring financial returns through wide eyed front benchers and teen agers from B grade cities but is sure to leave the intelligent audience frustrated over loss of time and money spent in the theatre.
Every step in the movie from the stage of entry of central character (a chartered accountant turned model from Chandigarh with a Kayastha surname and an officious looking father) in the fashion world to the “happily lived thereafter ending” has element of predictability. In the first half of the film audience is kept tossing over the fashion shows with big names , the music trying to build an exciting state of mind without much success. The depiction of fashion world which seems to have more than fair share of crooks and exploiters with their eccentric ways may be quite close to reality but it does not offer anything more than the page 3 information which any metro dweller is exposed to as a routine. Since one gets this feeling of crookery right from beginning of the film therefore the sweet smiling guy (excellently portrayed by Arbaz Khan) also appears to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing -which he ultimately turns out to be.
By the time reality dawns on the central character it has already been in and out of three bedroom scenes and thereby generated enough financial prospects for the film by way an adult tag and gate money. Since after first ten reels the movie was still marching ahead in fashion documentary format one wondered whether it would end up as a suicide or with a question mark. But Bhandarkar had no such risky options in mind , so ultimately a handful of good guys and girls joined together to stage a comeback and give an inferiority complex to big bad guys and girls and relief to the tired audience.
In an attempt give the film a realistic touch the Director has cornered the incident of falling of model’s top in a fashion show and has incorporated it in his movie. Bhandarkar himself appears in the movie for a few seconds and a character speaks about him sarcastically. Being impressed by his keenness to keep it close to reality ,we wondered why the Director failed to cash on the beach murders in Goa to give a realistic touch to the death of a drug addict character in his movie. Maybe next time. So let us keep our fingers crossed till then .