November 3, 2008 10:50:20 am
In his movie Fashion that released this week, Madhur Bhandarkar plays himself in a cameo. The frame catches him sitting in the front row of a fashion show, while characters whisper in awestruck tones that he is there researching his latest project—the fashion industry. This self-congratulatory pat on his back is possibly the least irksome part of Bhandarkar’s three-hour-fifteen-minute-long movie. Watching it in PVR, model Sonalika Sahay and designer
Vineet Bahl protest vehemently about the movie and Bhandarkar, who has built a reputation as a hard-hitting filmmaker doesn’t dumb down to appease the audience.
“It is very clichéd. He has strung together a few sensational events and tried to filter an opinion through them,” says Sahay. Sahay’s ire is directed at the screenplay of the movie—the story of three models: a small-town beauty pageant winner, played by Priyanka Chopra, who makes it big very fast, a supermodel played by Kangana Ranaut who is addicted to drugs and alcohol and a second-rung model, Mugdha Godse, who figures out how to hold her own in the big, bad world of modelling. Bhandarkar’s disclaimer at the beginning of the movie that all the characters and events are fictitious doesn’t ring true as a doped-out Ranaut lands up on the footpath a la Gitanjali Nagpal, and Chopra’s character descends into the allegedly murky side of fashion —dope, alcohol and rehab, much like England-educated Shivani Kapur did a couple of years back.
“Bhandarkar should have given the movie a broader perspective. This whole thing about small-town girls losing their heads in modelling is so insulting. I’m from Bihar and let me tell you, exploitation is a matter of choice,” says Sahay. “There’s a nicer side to the industry as well, like friendships and creativity.”
The stress on supermodels and showstoppers throughout the movie, says Sahay, is also dated. “It’s something that used to happen in the initial stages of the industry. We are way past those days when a show was only about the showstopper. The only believable bit about the movie is Mugdha, probably because being part of the industry, she knows how it works and makes it look a little more credible,” she says.
Designer Vineet Bahl agrees in part with Sahay. While he is impressed with the histrionics of Chopra and Ranaut, his grouse is about the male characters, most of whom have been stereotyped as gay designers and exploitative agency owners. “Bhandarkar could have done without gross generalisations. It makes the movie shallow and over-dramatic. Also, there is nothing about the clothes. Whatever they show on the ramp in the movie is extremely amateurish, straight out of some fashion student’s costume fantasy,” says Bahl. “What is credible about the movie is the rise and fall of the two lead characters — Priyanka and Kangana. Their attempt to hold onto 15 minutes of fame is something you see in the industry all the time,” he says.
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