Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Cigarette Packs
Direction: Madhur Bhandarkar
Take this. A poke of coke, guzzling gallons of wine, smoking cigarettes like copper chimneys, sleeping around (with Arbaaz Khan, if you please) and modelling outfits that would scare the life out of Dior, Dolce and DKNY: it’s drizzling clichés out here. Khalid's video review
In a bid to wash dirty ganjis and gowns in public, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion is simplistic, naïve and even belts out distortions. For instance, a modelling agency wields more power than George Bush ever did. Really? And wannabe models are Dumb Belles who shudder on learning that there’s no free snack in town. What did they expect? Ring-a-ring-a-roses? In addition, Bhandarkar’s homophobic streak surfaces all over again with the gross caricature of most fashionista guys as gays. Love and let love, Madhurbhai.
Hang on. Despite the mutton-headedness, Bhandarkar at least has the nerve to select valid subjects. And this quality is far more valuable – in these days of depleted cinema --than the Singhs are Kinggs and Akbars entering Jodhas’ bridal chambers. Reality is the director’s location, life with all its warts, cheap cosmetics, pimples and painted-on dimples. Clearly, Bhandarkar (with nods to All About Eve and the HBO Angelina Jolie movie Gia), instructs his screenplay team to go for the jugular.
Occasionally, they do. Zoom into the junkie supermodel (Kangana Ranaut), then. That she has shades of the traumatised Delhi model, Gitanjali Nagpal, is more than obvious. Which is why she is far more empathetic than the other pout pourris here. Excelling on the catwalk as well as in the moments of self-destruction, Ranaut’s is the terrific, show-stopping performance. Applause, please.
By comparison, the next supermodel in line, Priyanka Chopra, carries too much baggage. Through her, you’re informed about the sleazy struggling days involving lingerie ads (very shudh vegetarian though) party escort jobs assigned by an overacting Chak De! Girl, frolics at Nashik vineyards with Big Boss Arbaaz (ha ha), moving in with a guy (Arjan Bajwa, confident), moving out, and whoa, landing up in bed with a black Afro-guy. Inadvertent racism here. Because that’s just too much tequila for our Miss Super Muddle. So, she breaks into one of those big hysterical scenes, going at her eyes with tissues. Babes, just what are the issues?
It’s a meaty, beaty, big and bouncy role for Ms Chopra, and she does a fairly committed job of it. Far too often, she is unflatteringly photographed (those neck lines). And the graph of a Chandigarh Barbie who leaves home dominated by dad Raj Babbar (Frowning Wonder) to take on the grime-‘n’-glamour, doesn’t quite ring true. If she’s a sensitive soul, then the way she hits her benefactors below the belt is not only psychologically unconvincing but also absurd.
Debutante Mugdha Godse, as a model of congeniality, marries a gay designer. Because his glum mum is being heckled at the gurdwara by a junior artiste. Godse is likeably spontaneous but you’re unsure -- how will this marriage of convenience last?
Largely, there’s too much yakety yak here. Everyone talks their heads off as if they were at a TV panel discussion, including a dialogue nugget about, “You won’t recognise yourself and yourself won’t be able to recognise you.” Huh?
And it’s all too darn long at some 17 reels (the finale is slower than the postal service). Real life veterans of the fashion trade like Lubna Adams are frittered away in roles that could have been done by any X, Y, Zzzz. On the plus side, the ramp walk scenes have flashmatazz, Salim-Suleiman’s music score’s okay, and the show does belong to Kangana Ranaut, who once again after Gangster and Woh Lamhe, seems to be replaying something deeply disturbing within her.
Bottomline: For Bhandarkar’s ongoing affair with the real and the raw, Fashion is a must-try. Just don’t recommend it to Rohit Bal and Co. though.