January 30, 2009 7:55:41 pm
Cast: Farhan Akhtar,Konkona Sen Sharma,Isha Sharvani,Rishi Kapoor,Dimple Kapadia,Juhi Chawla,Sanjay Kapoor,Aly Khan,Sheeba Chaddha
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Is being a good actor enough to make you a star? In Zoya Akhtar’s detailed sketch of Bollywood and its colourful,conflicted denizens,the most important ingredient in a wannabe’s portfolio seems to be that elusive thing called luck.
‘Luck By Chance’,a wonderful colloquialism which you hear only in Mumbai,opens a wide window on our dream merchants : strange-yet-familiar characters we’ve met in fanzines,other films-on-film-people,on TV shows. What makes this debut of Zoya Akhtar,daughter of Javed,sister of Farhan,less than what it could have been,though,is in the way ‘Luck By Chance’ unspoolsshutting between the generic and specific and back again can sometimes diffuse a film : this one,the latest in the line of Bollywood-looking-at-Bollywood ensembles, needed to have been both newer,and sharper to make it the definitive insider story.
But while it’s happening,you can sit back and admire some superbly-designed cinematic moments. Saurabh Shukla,playing the genial acting class guru,tells wannabe star Vikram Jaisingh ( Farhan) : Hollywood ka hero banana bahut aasaan hai,par Bollywood ke hero ko sab kuch karna padta hai. The man who has just shown us he can direct and act and sing in his last film ( ‘Rock On’) swings a cool Bollywood hip here : watch him gyrate in a shocking pink waistcoat.
Konkona as ‘Sona-the-struggler’—‘compromising’ with a director who’s been stringing her along,agreeing to bit parts in the hope of the big one,facing rejectionis equally first rate. Just like Vikram,who is shown to be not such a nice guy on his way up the ladder (schmoozing with the heroine’s mom,dumping his old friends,betraying his girl friend),Sona is no ‘doodh-ki-dhuli’ girl. She knows what it takes,and is willing to do it,but unlike him,she knows where to draw the line. The roundedness of their characters is one of the high points of the film.
So are the other performances,drawn with a fine,sardonic-yet-sympathetic eye. The be-ringed ,jowly director ( Rishi ),his trophy wife ( Juhi),the hangers on ( Aly,Sheeba) ; the talent-less but ‘bade star ki beti’ ( Isha,very good ),her mom,the super-ambitious yesteryear diva ( Dimple,terrific ),the script/dialoguewriter who has to include the foibles of his paymasters when he writes ( Anurag Kashyap in a stand-out cameo; he should seriously start thinking of acting).
Enjoy also the walk-on parts of real A-listers. Everyone’s hereShah Rukh,Aamir,Kareena,Rani,Akshaye. And Hrithik’s large-ish special appearance,as Zafar Khan the star who dumps his producer to sign with another,more happening one,without a qualm,threatens to run away with the movie.
Despite the occasional lapse into the sort of indulgence a first-time director displays,and the indeterminate end,there’s enough in the film to keep you going. Now that Zoya’s got Her First Movie out of her system,it’ll be fun looking out for her second.
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