Fashion, set in the world of high fashion traces the journey of Meghna Mathur, a model whose story reaches up for the stars, witnesses the bottom of the professional well and finally her scrappy resurgence to recapture the lost dream. Madhur Bhandarkar’s ambitious drama centered right in the midst of the-some-what-booming fashion industry creates a compelling story which underlines the fact that we are responsible for our own destiny, be it rising above the ordinary to create our own space on top of the ladder or ruining ourselves down in the shambles of desires, unwarranted needs and arrogance.
The movie stars Priyanka Chopra as the ‘I-want-to-be-the-next-supermodel’ girl, Kangana Ranaut as the coke spiraled super model, Mugdha Godse and Arjan Bajwa as struggling models, Sameer Soni as a talented homosexual designer. along with Arbaaz Khan and Kitu Gidwani as the high priest and priestess of the fashion industry.
With a budget which would fit all his other low budget movies into one, Fashion hits the right chord in terms of fashion. The clothes seem to fit into the landscape very well. The runway sets don’t impress at all and seem completely monotonous. Every runway set seems to have been manufactured from the same bits and pieces and has the very same foundation with very little difference. Nitin Desai, who created the fabulous sets for Devdas, fails to deliver this time. Secondly, it seems the director was misguided in believing that show stoppers walk the ramp first, while on the contrary she or he appears the last to show the best piece in the designers collection.
The movie is paced adequately, not too racy but doesn’t make the viewer restless, and unlike other movies which get lost within the many stories it wants to tell, the script keeps the viewers updated with each story line in regular intervals. Of course Priyanka Chopra’s story line is the one which hogs the maximum screen time but the subsidiary stories have been laced beautifully around the central story. Every part of the story has been told with sensibility, the humour is kept in check, and the biggest loophole of clichés towards homosexual designers has been kept to the bare minimum. The movie thus signals the continuing but sparring maturity of the Indian film-makers towards homosexuality.
Madhur Bhandarkar seems to be one of those male directors who understand the female psyche with amazing depth. I have seen all his films barring Traffic Signal and have been impressed with the sketch he designs for the central female character. They seem to be real and one can identify with their journeys and their traumas. It is the same here in Fashion. I wish he could make some male characters of the same caliber. He draws out the best from each actor. Right from Priyanka Chopra to the previously-very-wooden Arbaaz Khan, every one delivers with poise.
Priyanka Chopra has been good in each of her movies, barring a few really disastrous ones. I have not seen every movie she has acted in but I can confidently say that she is in a league of female actors who consistently deliver even if the movie doesn’t. After her very sexually charged and deceitful vampish turn in Aitraaz, Chopra bites into this role with an aggression to prove her credentials. She delivers on each and every count. Through the move her transitions seem smooth – be it the very ambitious small-town-girl, or the very sure and shadowed spunky corded model, to the very assertive model who makes it big, or the arrogant and attitude laden super model and finally the all time low down of her life, she pitches in the performance of her lifetime. Her final resurgence demands empathy and she proves that here is an actress who is here to make it big. What liberates Chopra from the crowd is the ability to use her inherent softness with unusual ease to convey delicateness and at the same time to suggest power and arrogance. She is one of the few actresses who have an amazing quality of voice, which insists on your awareness and her brilliant ability to use her eyes.
The very talented Kangna Ranaut makes an impression in the first half but some how disappoints in the second half. Her uber confident super model turn in the first half inspires, but her hysterical second half fails to charm and is quite bleak. Her best scene was her wardrobe malfunction on the ramp. She spells brilliance in the scene. Mugdha Godse gives an equally radiant debut. Under the helm of Bhandarkar, she brings about a certain dignity to her craft which is refreshing. She is especially beautiful in a few scenes. Arjan Bajwa, might as well become the new romantic-chocolate-boy-next-door with his act. He is charming and gives a fine performance even though his screen time is heavily restricted.
Sameer Soni brings poise and decorum as the homosexual designer without dropping in the usual hoopla of how homosexual designers are. At the same time Harsh Chayya gives a bad caricature of being a designer. Here the director seems to have underused a supremely talented actor. Maybe his vision was to make him look like that. Kitu Gidwani brings a sense of calm confidence to her character which hides concern with poised ruthlessness. She is brilliant in her short spanned character. Chitrashi Rawat of Chak De India! fame springs a surprise as the loud mouthed ‘Mother India’ of aspiring models. The revelation of the movie is Arbaaz Khan as the very suave business tycoon who takes an ‘Anna Vintourish’ turn as the do-all of the Indian Fashion Industry. He acts with complete reassurance and goes beyond his usual wooden self.
I don’t think the movie has broken any new boundaries. I believe we have known such details of the fashion industry. Madhur Bhandarkar does not really show us any new details of what happens behind the curtains of the fashion industry. The movie could have broken new boundaries had the director shown the plagiarism and the artful diplomacy in the fashion industry and the very stagnant designer pool we seem to celebrate each fashion weak. We need to take the movie as a human tale of triumph and feel assured of our abilities in fulfilling our dreams. It is a well made movie. Don’t expect the fireworks of revelations, you will not get it.
My final take: 3/5, highly recommended for the performances.
Sayan S. Das
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