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Review: Luck by Chance

That’s debutante director Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance – a valentine as well as a poison pen letter to good-golly-it’s-Bollywood. And it actually prompts you to prance with pleasure, avers Khalid Mohamed.

movie reviews Updated: Jan 30, 2009 20:09 IST
Khalid Mohamed

Luck by Chance
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Konkona Sen-Sharma, Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia
Direction: Zoya Akhtar
Rating: ****

Wink wink, a star daughter adores Gapuchi gum-gum doggy toys in pink. Blink. Now by some quirk of fate, a Delhi boy lands the plum pudding role of the hero opposite Pouting Pink in one of those love lollipop-a-loolahs. Now the producer’s a funnier fig that his hurly-curly wig, the director’s forever breaking into a jolly jig but don’t you dare throw a fit. The nitwit movie’s a freak-out hit. Yippee?

That’s debutante director Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance – a valentine as well as a poison pen letter to good-golly-it’s-Bollywood. And it actually prompts you to prance with pleasure. Akhtar’s is an insider’s view of La Dolce & Gabbana Vita of show biz, as faux as Beijing-produced Vuittons. Enjoy the affectionate look, then, at what all every movie practitioner knows but was afraid to package into one slick pic. Nothing clicks here for those who don’t butt lick. Or kismet kicks in. Then you’re in the world of cheers, champagne chin-chin. <b1>

Indeed, L by C may not reveal any hard facts. Its extraordinary strength, instead, is in at least articulating them in the open, with crackle and cool. Akhtar’s script is a bit lengthy but it has the distinct advantage of her father Javed Akhtar’s brilliant dialogue, often laugh-out-loud (like too much screen aggression doesn’t wash with multiplex audiences). And often achingly humorous pithy like the newbie actress simpering that her mum is her favourite person in the world, never mind if the Sunset Boulevard diva is a domineering dragonette.

Lady Dragonette (Dimple Kapadia, bankably excellent) is no cartoon though. To clue her Dumbelina daughter (Isha Shervani, impressive) into the ways of stardom, she snaps, “From the age of 16, I had to go..go to the producers.” Although the script’s focus is not on this mean mamma, it’s her deadly designs to hit the Power List all over again that astonish you. Ditto the kooky hi-jinks of producer Romi Rolly (Rishi Kapoor, to absolutely die for) slaloming from superstar treacheries to facing new-fangled movie corporations which don’t know their A’s from their elbows.

The Boulevard Mum and the Rolly Polly Producer, in fact, frame the plot about the fortune hunt by a wannabe actor (Farhan Akhtar). He has been schooled in the ‘art’ at an institute where Macmohan delivers his two-word dialogue from Sholay., Wannabe-bop hangs out with a cynical theatre type and an assistant to the Bhatt Bros who must overnight organise a grandpa clock for a movie shoot. What a hoot. <b2>

Next:The wannabe gets that big break by ‘destiny’ – that overused word in filmdom today – and inexorably, cheats on his steadfast support (Konkona Sen-Sharma), another struggler, exploited and yet as buzzy as a bee. The conversation in the finale, between the two, is so accurately descriptive of Bollywood’s self-obsessive ways, that you want to doff your hat off to Zoya Akhtar. You said it, little big lady, there’s no free lunch in this town.

There are scores of moments that every viewer will recognise– be it the clever ploys of a superstar (Hrithik Roshan, spot on) to drop out of a project, and later share the fact with Karan Johar (tongue-in-chic) that he has inadvertently created a competitor. And there’s Shah Rukh Khan (sharp as a javelin’s throw) telling the new hit hero that it’s only the pre-stardom friends who matter at the end of the day. Touche.

Miraculously, there isn’t one performance that doesn’t ring true, be it the fussy, cruncy brunchy Mrs Rolly (Juhi Chawla endearing as ever) or the sleazoid secretary to starlets. That Akhtar has extracted A-grade performances from all is as much of an achievement as her distinguished style – note especially the opening scenes and Carlos Catalon’s fluent camerawork. Irritatingly, though, the second half drones on a bit much. Boo hoo hoo. Also Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music score is just about passable – guys,what on earth was that circus song about?

After Rock On!!, Farhan Akhtar is an actor you look forward to. And he’s unpretentious and a likeable natural once again. Konkona Sen-Sharma is amazingly flawless. She even carries off a last, very long shot – obviously inspired by George Clooney in Michael Clayton – perfectly. For the entire acting crew, the page-turner script and the sparklingly perceptive direction by Zoya Akhtar, here’s your one big lucky ticket. Beg, borrow or steal.