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Fashion – A Review November 3, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Films, india, Movies, Opinion, Personal, Review, Writing.
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Fashion is…well it’s a film that will divide opinion. All films, the good, the bad and the indifferent do that. But I am not talking about the easy toss-up of opinion that is garnished with popcorn during interval.

Fashion is not a popcorn film. Thank god for that. It is not without its flaws. In fact it has many. Let’s start with them first.

Chandigarh is supposed to be a small town. It is true, it is not Bombay, but the city’s apparent regressive small-towness can’t even be compared with Jamshedpur – where I come from. Priyanka Chopra hails from this stifling small town. Her parents and especially the godfather of hamming Raj Babbar are conservative.

Coming to family – what’s with Kiran Juneja’s cleavage? That was the moment I started to hate Fashion. Initially I thought the reverse angle would rectify this, but no – Juneja’s exposure, somehow communicates, to me at least, the director’s vision – that Miss Chopra’s ambitions – of becoming a model, which are tainted, supported by Babbar’s opposition on moral grounds, somehow, emanates from the mother.

This is just one example of what Bhandarkar does best – pins and paints characters with large brushes of generalizations. Wants to be a success, has ambitions so must be having a promiscuous grain, and if the profession entails wearing clothes that more often than not reveal more than they cover…you get the message.

Coming back – Piggy Chops sleeps her way to the top and forgets the gentle conservative, small – town values that she had landed in Bombay with. She meets and uses people close to her, basically exploits them, so that the ride is quick and at the same time strangely expects a non-exploitative relationship from her exploiters.

Success corrupts her; she becomes a Diva; loses friends, love, contracts and ends up being a nervous wreck….like she is warned by one Shonali, played by Kangana Ranaut. Meghna Mathur’s career, now a spiraling trainwreck, is punctuated by sexual acts…in increasing order of sin…first with Maanav, her ostensible love; then with Arbaaz, the owner of a fashion magazine and the last but not the least with an unnamed black person she meets at a party, fueled by drugs and booze. The last encounter shatters her and she returns home. A dream ends.

NO. The perpetually silent daughter is now given a boost by guess who – Raj Babbar – another convenient and hasty device. She returns to Bombay, mends fences with Mugda Godse’s Janet, becomes mother Mary to Kangana’s Shonali, now on the streets and shorn of all glory and sense fails but doesn’t give up. Our heroine picks up the pieces and in a neat swelling of the chorus and rolling of the drums moment, her redemption is achieved.

Inspite of the facile generalization of the industry and its people – Fashion works. It works because it doesn’t shy away from the dark and gloomy and depressing; a constant now with the director’s films (don’t count Trishakti, Satta, Corporate and Traffic Signal – all 3 fail because of bad casting, acting and his over-confidence at picking a subject fit for an expose). People are shown doing coke, shooting heroine and having sex for the sake of furthering one’s career. People are shown ambitious, manipulative, weak and succumbing to their ambition. They are ruled and are slaves to their desires of fame, fortune and not to some abstract or subservient to some finally excusable family emergency.

Other than Chitrashi Rawat and Raj Babbar, most of them do a good job. Miss Godse, Bajwa, Kittu G, Arbaaz, Harsh Chaya, Ashwin Mushran, Sameer Soni – all do a good supporting role.

And Priyanka the heroine? It is her best performance till date. The film rides on her wispy shoulders and she succeeds – from a wannabe to a Diva to a wreck to her eventual resurrection – she might never get a character like Meghna Mathur.

Which brings us to Kangana. She ends up a cliché she has popularized – of a perpetually tortured woman – addicted to her white line of coke and booze – a Diva on the loose, high on her success. People get tired of clichés. But Shonali’s 1st entry shows that Kangana can walk the model’s talk as good as any. I was impressed.

Her second entry – a hand held / steadycam shot following her full frontal – gave me something that happens rarely in the darkness of a theater – a memory. Vanity, contempt, arrogance, over – confidence, madness, beauty and charisma – the minutiae of her character coalesced in perfect harmony in that walk. When did I see that last?