Bhandarkar’s Angels

Madhur Bhandakar’s Fashion gives you a ringside view into the gritty world of glamour. The three-time National Award winning filmmaker who has made it his business to do exposés, first on journalism (Page 3), then starched suits (Corporate), then beggars (Traffic Signal) and now modelling (Fashion), takes his camera into the green-rooms of the ramp queens.

With shades from Hollywood 1998 television film Gia, where Angelina Jolie plays super-model Gia and the 2002 Academy winning feature the Catherine-Zeta-Jones-Renee Zellweger film Cabaret, Bhandarkar shows you how the timeless beauties who walk the ramp mechanically, with a faraway vacant looks in their kohl-lined eyes, are in reality vulnerable porcelain dolls who often crack under pressure.
His protagonist is Priyanka Chopra (Meghna Mathur), a Chandigarh resident who comes to Mumbai determined to be a super-model. Then there is Kangana Ranaut (Shonali Gujral), the reigning model, whose oomph and style leaves Meghna envious and panting. Little does the Chandigarh girl know that behind those vacant eyes is a traumatised soul, who like a paraplegic, leans on drugs and spirits to see her through the motions of life! And of course there is debutant Mugdha Ghodse (Janet), a tough-talking, kind-hearted girl who is the perfect friend in the otherwise uncaring world of glamour.
As the lives and dreams of Meghna, Shonali and Janet crisscross, the film takes you on a quick-fix journey that deals with aspirations of the ordinary people to the compromising, seamy side of the glamorous profession, showing you a side to the modelling world you may well have heard and read about, but is still something that keeps you hooked.
The screenplay moves smoothly in the first half. However, it gets into fits and starts in the pre-climax portion, where it lingers on the track that tries to show how a repentant Meghna, who has gone from sweet-to-superbitch-to-worldly-wise, is trying to salvage her soul. Fashion could well have been at least 15-minutes shorter.
Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogue is witty in portions and makes you chuckle, yet there are times when the girls (Kangana and Priyanka), especially when they are having their emotional outbursts are let down with the dialogue that is constricting. Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography also lacks consistency. For most parts it is captivating, yet at other times it is shoddy. The music for the title track, ‘Shaurat ka hai yeh jalwa’, is muffled and means little.
The highlight of Fashion is the performances. Kangana Ranaut, whose track is ‘inspired’ from model Gitanjali Nagpal’s riches-to-rags story (with a slight twist) plays her woman-on-the-edge part with precision; your heart goes out to her. Debutant Mughda Ghodse is not only a knock-out looker, she is also an able performer combining the hard-with-the-soft shades in her screen character like a true-blue professional.
But of course, the film belongs to Priyanka Chopra who’s superlative from frame A to Z. Not only does PC look terrific, she also delivers a mature performance, both as a smalltown-girl with a dream and as a super-model who tramples over people without qualms.
The supporting star cast is able. Though Arbaaz Khan, Sameer Soni and Harsh Chhaya do the job at hand, you still wish Bhandarkar had chosen more sensitive actors.
Having said that, Fashion is still worth a trip to the multiplex because it allows you to peek unabashedly at the scantily-clad women who work as terrific distractions every time you get restless in your seat. And it also gives you the emotional rollercoaster ride that movies these days rarely do.

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