Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Rani Mukerji, Abhishek Bachchan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunal Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Jaya Bachchan
This one comes out smelling of mothballs, like a wedding dress stored for decades in an attic trunk. Not surprising, since the plot is vintage 1977 from
, and the 1995 Marathi film
. But Aditya Chopra takes credit for the story for
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
, directed by Pradeep Sarkar.
Rekha Nigam is credited with the screenplay and the ancient
Ganga Ki Tarah Pavitra
kind of dialogues. The storyline unfolds as if being told by an ancient aunty; Vibha (Mukerji) and her sister Shubha (Sen Sharma) live with their parents (Bachchan-Kher) in a Banaras mansion (which allows for sumptuous visuals) that's crumbling due to poverty and litigation with an uncle. This feudal manor bickering does seem to be a pet peeve with the
When the situation gets desperate, and the father wishes he had a son, Vibha lands up in Mumbai to prove that she can bail the family out. Amazingly, she gets shelter with a girl who had once come to see the
for a possible film shoot. Alas, our V can't find a job because she has little education and no skills. A lecherous boss shows the way. Once she gets a
by sleeping with him (he flings money at her!), she becomes a high-class hooker.
<b1>In a flash, Vibha now re-christened Nastasha, acquires a penthouse apartment, a chauffeur-driven car, tickets to Swiss holidays, plus enough money to pull her family out of hardship and pay off a blackmailing cousin. And you are expected to believe this is a life of humiliation and shame! If she hates her life so much, does she continue "to die every night" once she is wealthy?
Next: Shubha comes to Mumbai, and gets a job, boyfriend Vivaan (Kunal Kapoor) and a chic wardrobe. The mother knows where the money is coming from, but it doesn't occur to the sister, or to the father to ask how come a 'matric'-fail girl is earning so much? Sarkar does not want to get into the murky area of hypocrisy. Shubha's wedding sets up a possible melodramatic climax, which mercifidly doesn't happen.
Vivaan's brother Rohan (Abhishek Bachchan) had fallen in love with Vibha in Switzerland (YRF production, remember?) because she could chant the Hanuman chalisa, and is willing to marry her. Okay so as in the 1970s movies, the
girl, does not have to commit suicide - she gets a detergent of a husband.
Unlike, presumably the tragic looking Gulabbai (Hema Malini) the
of Banaras, whose choice of 'career' leaves her lonely and lost. She gets to utter the unintentionally funny line of dialogue about "
aankhon ki masumiyat
" when Rani Mukerji's kohl-lined eyes shed.
If she's aspiring to be today's constantly weeping Meena Kumari, it's a laugh. Her range of expressions is, however, wider than the pastedon scowl worn by Jaya Bachchan. Not a patch on
, this regressive effort is aimed at the "ladies" audience but the four-hanky emotional blast is missing.