Calendar Girls: A dated pursuit

September 25, 2015 06:37 pm | Updated September 27, 2015 03:24 am IST

A scene from the film Calendar Girls

A scene from the film Calendar Girls

We know mainstream cinema is about commerce but can it be reduced to an Excel sheet document? Madhur Bhandarkar has managed to do it. It seems he just has to fill in the facts and figures in the flowchart. Bouncing off newspaper headlines and gossip of glamour magazines in the name of script, once again he is peeping into the supposed immoral side of the rich and the famous. Of course he is not judgemental. For a director known for giving the heroine her due, here Bhandarkar suggests one should not leave a philandering rich husband because he cheats when he is under stress. Another lesson is howsoever independent you are if your boyfriend wants to use you as a bait you can give in. Of course as one of protagonists says it is about the choices you make and for now Bhandarkar seems to be enjoying the life a habitual voyeur. Once upon a time his flawed characters showed us the mirror; today the mirror wilfully refracts reality.

Using the template of Fashion , Bhandarkar’s last hurrah at the turnstiles, this week the facts come from spot fixing and honey trap in cricket, escort service, the desire to cross over from modelling to films, reality shows, etc and the figures, lent by five new comers, are captured by a rather lecherous camera in the name of reflecting the reality of calendar shoots. The tone is shrill so much so that even intimate details are shared in full volume and the message hangs on the sleeve. The saving grace is Bhandarkar knows he is trapped in an image and has the ability to laugh at himself. So when he turns up in a cameo to tell us what his cinema is all about, we crack up.

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar Genre: Drama Cast: Akanksha Puri, Avani Modi, Satarupa Pyne, Ruhi Singh, Kyra Dutt, Rohit Roy, Suhel Seth, Keith Sequeira Bottomline: The two piece advice is stay away!

Laced with lazy lines, it is just an excuse to return to Fashion territory where five girls leave their homes to have a date with fame. Some make it; others slip through the cracks that dot the glamour industry.

Among the girls, Ruhi Singh impresses as Mayuri, the girl from Rohtak, who knows PR skills are as important as talent. She overacts but then she is supposed to present a caricature of a wannabe actress. Satararupa Pyne is not bad as the Bengali girl Paroma Ghosh who gets trapped in the cricket-crime nexus. The script allows Kyra Dutt to evolve through the course of the film and she doesn’t disappoint as the sorted Sharon Pinto. For Akanksha Puri acting is all about fluttering eyelids and saddled with a character full of clichés Avani Modi as the calendar girl from Pakistan fails to lend any depth to Nazneen.

Invoking a staple dialogue of Hindi cinema when Nazneen bemoans that while selling her body she didn’t realise when she sold off her soul, one wonders whether she is referring to Bhandarkar’s films. There was a time when his films scratched the conscience. Here he seems to be stroking the desires of that wide-eyed audience who once upon a time used to get their fix from morning shows. It is a glossier, more rounded version of that B-grade entertainment that is increasingly becoming synonymous with Bhandarkar. It will be able to titillate the target audience but as far as reality and expose are concerned, it is as shallow as the television debate that masquerades as badi behas in the film.

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