Friday, October 31, 2008

The other side of it...

I’ve always wondered, as a believable and convincing representation of today’s Indian educated audience, if we expect too much these days. I caught Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion yesterday at FAME Lido on MG Road, with a couple of friends and colleagues from MidDay and DNA, and I was surprised how differently we all took to the film.
To begin with, I loved the film. It wasn’t fantastic; it didn’t make me think (for that matter no Madhur Bhandarkar’s – MB from now, film has ever made me think); and it sure didn’t make me feel like anyone’s representation was grossly wronged or under-done or even exaggerated.
I loved the portrayal of gay men and I think this is as refined a portrayal as we’ll ever get. Let’s face it, Indian gay men have been represented by the irritating yet quintessential ‘queen’ who has permeated into every kwalm of society to become the community’s much hated pin-up boy. The representations in two characters – that of Rohit and Khosla are two variants of this very un-ignorable pin-up gay man. They both represent typical ‘queen’ characters that we often meet in the pink circle on any given day, irrespective of the city one lives in. Rahul Arora played by Samir Soni was also someone who deserves much more credit. In a very underplayed and effective way he portrays a gay man, a 'bottom' more likely who isn’t convinced enough of his sexuality as yet. He does not have it in him to face society and come out, but still wants to lead a proud gay life. Samir describes and represents half of India’s booming gay community. Men from the ages of 18 to 60, who all face the same problem and can’t face society even though they’re convinced they’re gay. His boyfriend, Anshu I think, is another beautifully represented character. He defines the word ‘top’ with such panache, its hard for me (a self-convinced bottom) to not be attracted to his charms, even on screen. The lesser portrayed the better, and I’m happy the kiss was edited. It might have not settled in as well as Madhur had thought it would. Kudos to all the characters, all the same – for very apt and moving performances. As a gay man I connected and was not ashamed of the portrayal and in that itself I see the need for commendation.
Whether Priyanka was a good choice or not, is something that I shall leave to the other audiences to decide. I was convinced and did actually see the transformation from small city belle to big city glam queen. Most other viewers will beg to differ and I allow them to seek alms in peace. I am no authority on this one. I was however extremely moved by Kangana’s astral performance. I think that girl has what it takes to make a good actress. She just needs to be prodded the right way.
The other performances were minimal and forgettable, but Kitu Gidwani’s character stood out like matured wine. She seemed to be the actual diva and not once did I see a faux pas in either her styling, her clothes or her acting. She was the Diva in her own right and represented a lot of people who actually run the fashion industry. Powerhouses of etiquette, good clothes, better grooming and proper upbringing, who don’t think twice to shift from Sati Savitri to Bitch-with-fire-up-her-arse. Experience they say, experience.
The music was lovely, and the title track is still fresh in my mind, and that my friends is an achievement. The cameo with Koko and Shorey was so uncalled for, and so were many other scenes that just dragged us all along into a never ending need for self entertaining, whilst still in the cinema hall.
I must give it to Bhandarkar for crawling so deep into the underbelly of the fashion world and digging out these skeletons, but the real selling point of the film is in the realistic portrayal of the people involve in the industry. Be it the photographers, the page three bunch or the people involved in the glam industry, this movie let's one bake the cake and eat it.