Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion-a climbedown from Chandani Bar

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 .


Jab Jodhaa met Akbar

In every civilized society which cares for individual sentiments there is some law for protection of certain heritage sites and buildings since these are considered to be the collective property of the humanity and there is a recognition of the fact that every one has a right to share the unspoilt beauty of an architectural monument or a natural formation in an unaltered fashion. Unfortunately there is no legal protection in respect of an icon of history whose image cultivated over generations is mercilessly butchered by a buccaneering film producer unrepentantly and with the simple excuse that it is merely a work of fantasy and has no historical basis!

Aushutosh Gowrikar of Lagaan fame has done precisely that to the image of Jodha Bai a Rajput Queen of middle ages and the Mughal King Akbar who is remembered as one of the few benevolent despots who have given this country a symbol of administrative reforms and spirit of religious tolerance .

Having failed to meet success at the oscar nominations for his period film Lagan , Gowrikar has come out with a more calculated assault on the Oscar battlefield through Jodah Akbar romance which the film claims is not reported in history ( the name of the princess and her relation ship with Akbar is also doubted) but the expensive film with lavish squandering on objects of visual pleasure appears to be attempting to become a historical magnum opus. Nobody wishes to join the issue of historical credibility with Mr. Gowrikar but pray Mr. Gowrikar why did you thrust this plastic beauty of Indian screen to wipe out the memories of Jodha Bai so powerfully projected by the legendary Durga Khote. And your Akbar…although young , but can he ever be expected to adorn the throne occupied by powerful personae of Prithviraj Kapoor in Mughal-e-Azam which is etched in the memory of generations of cinegoers .

A good documentary for Rajasthan Tourism or chalu stuff for a good tear jerker TV serial to be watched by Saas Bahus in the afternoon , or a modern presentation of Vikram Betal stories is what you have produced Mr. Gowrikar with so much fanfare. Your bundle of mini stories of religious hysteria , Saas bahu tussle ,wimpish Rajpoot princes , plotting brother-in-law, fanatic ulemas and incognito visits of young emperor to see the status of his praja could have created a long running TV serial because each episode is a mini thriller but not the part of a story of any interesting substance. The only tears which come to the eyes of an intelligent cinegoer are due to strain of spending 200 minutes in the theatre for witnessing your mediocrity.

And there was a feeling of relief after coming out of the hall for one more reason. That was for the realization that the romantic excitement of Madhubala, Dilip Kumar pair in Mughl-e-Azam would remain beyond the reach of producers for all times and the movie would remain the true Moughal amongst the movies as tribute to the genius of it’s producer and Director.

Madam Ashwarya Rai may now try her luck with some other fake piece of history because this one again seems to have floundered like remake of Umrao Jaan…despite the hidden support of dad-in-law by way of unworthy praise of a dance sequence filmed on Hrithik Roshan. Cinegoers having seen the Mughal movies like Anarkali and Mughal-e-Azam will have to recall the emotional thrill of “Pyar kiya to darna kya “ dance number performed so tantalizingly by Madubala and the Quawalis of the films produced in sixties when they want to think of a piece of art which is highly entertaining and also intellectually satisfying , while the likes of Aishwarya and Aushotosh will fade away from the scene in no time.

And now last but not the least, the latest news  reports say that Mayawati Ji Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has chosen this occasion to garner some votes from Rajput community by placing a ban on the movie (just two days after the MP High Court quashed a ban of similar nature and under full realization that hers would also be a short lived ban). The scenario is a bit  comical in the sense that Akbar the great warrior of middle ages has come to the rescue of another damsel in distress in modern times by helping her recover some popularity in Rajput community .