Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 1, 2011

Masand’s Verdict: Fashion is all masala, no reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 5:03 am

  Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Mughda Ghodse, Kitu Gidwani, Raj Babbar

Direction: Madhur Bhandarkar

One of the inconsistencies in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion comes through his portrait of aspiring model Meghna Mathur’s father, played by Raj Babbar. This Chandigarh dad is disapproving and unrelenting when his daughter, played by Priyanka Chopra, wants to head to Mumbai to become a model after winning a small-time beauty contest.

But when she comes back years later, an empty shell of a former supermodel in need of psychiatric visits, this dad pushes her back onto the ramp just because it is her dream. Correct me if I’m wrong, but only your worst enemy would coax you to go back into the world that left you scarred for life, certainly not your own father.

Of course, in a Madhur Bhandarkar film, logic plays little role as long as his reality formula kicks in. A woman protagonist will struggle and be exposed to the seamy side of things in her climb to the top, then lose it all to the trappings of success, hitting the gutter.

To Bhandarkar, this is the reality of the ramp – a bleak look at an industry rampant with drugs, homosexuality, power play, promiscuity.

Yes, it has flashes of authenticity, but what is Fashion trying to say? That every woman who becomes the showstopper or supermodel turns into a diva and gets mixed up with the worst kind of men? Or that they then spiral in a vortex of drugs, drink and one-night stands?

This seems to be the same formula in most of Bhandarkar’s films – from Page 3 to Corporate. It’s just the background that changes. So even though the director takes nearly three endless hours to tell Meghna Mathur’s story, you as the audience can see it coming a mile away.

Having said that, the glamour, the backstage choreography and the front-row reactions give the film its intriguing moments.
A majority of the film’s characters are based on real designers, models, socialites and industrialists, and much of the fun while watching Fashion comes from decoding who’s who.

In all fairness, Bhandarkar handles some portions commendably – like the wardrobe malfunction incident and the unnecessary controversy it spawned. Even the relationship between a gay designer and his female model friend who agree to enter into a marriage of convenience, although the director never explains why exactly she gets into it, what’s in it for her?

Priyanka Chopra turns in a respectable performance, one that will inevitably go down as her best. The truth is, it’s one of those by-the-book characters that she understands only too well and performs just as easily.

Ditto for Kangana Ranaut who plays the eccentric superdiva with such a practiced hand, it almost seems like an effortless delivery.

It’s first-timer Mughda Ghodse who invests such sincerity into her role as the heroine’s best-friend model, that she makes the character a real flesh and blood person.

But the tour de force performance in Fashion is delivered by the excellent Kitu Gidwani who could teach each of these girls a thing or two about underplaying and subtlety. As the agency head who mentors our protagonist, Kitu strikes all the right notes, never once slipping out of character.

Compare it to his some of his recent films, and Fashion is definitely a step ahead for Bhandarkar, but judge it as a stand-alone film and it falls short in so many places. Far from displaying a deep understanding of how the business works, Bhandarkar’s Fashion is a superficial study of the industry he claims to have covered.

For after all, the one thing he forgets to get into in this film is fashion itself. There is virtually no talk of clothes, designs or garments except for a few passing references to stolen designs and Bangkok knock-offs. This film is not so much about fashion as it is about models and “Supermodel” if you ask me might have been a better title for this film.

But despite its shortcomings, in the end Fashion is an easy watch because the very subject lends itself to so much interest. Like the director’s own film Page 3 it is mostly sensational and on several occasions compromises authenticity for the sake of exaggerated drama.

I’ll go with a generous three out of five for director Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Stop thinking of it as a realistic expose and treat it as just another masala potboiler and chances are you won’t complain.

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

Click here to write your own review and win exciting prizes. Winning entry will be read by Rajeev Masand on his show on CNN-IBN next Friday. Do not forget to leave your contact details.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress