Madhur Bhandarkar

Anil Pandey

Abhiruchi Chand

Film Review
Calendar Girls:Needs a Page Turn


Madhur Bhandarkar has always been blunt with his films’ titles; as simple as subject = title. A film on fashion was named name Fashion, similarly Page3, Traffic Signal and Heroine. Now comes a film on Calendar Girls, hence the name. He has always been a genre-specific filmmaker, sticking to just one kind of films that displays ugly realities of various industries esp driven by Glamour. When he tried diverging himself with Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji things didn’t quite work so he’s back with his clichéd drama introducing five new girls playing characters who aspire to be selected to pose for the country’s most prestigious annual calendar which is a joint venture between business tycoon Rishabh Kukreja and his photographer friend Timmy Sen.

            15 minutes into the film and you are already exhausted with all the artificial acting of various supporting actors where you feel like watching a drama instead of a film. It seems like Madhur Bhandarkar was okay with every shot and didn’t feel the need to improvise. Supporting Actors are so loud and artificial that they won’t let you get drowned into the realism that the film is trying to portray. Fortunately all the five protagonists make justice to their parts and maintain the film’s pace. As you all must have guessed by the trailer the plot is about five aspiring models shooting to fame overnight and the various courses which their lives take on post success. What Bhandarkar tries to tell in the end is a fact that I very much agree with, that life is all about making choices. Clearly it was the choices that they made, which gradually led them to different paths. Also, the film tries to depict that luck is an extremely strong factor which definitely cannot be ignored at any cost.

            All the five girls who played calendar girls, are successful models in real life. Most of them have acted in South Indian films also. Among all five, Ruhi Singh, a well-known face who played Mayuri Chauhan in the film, was a runner-up in Femina Miss India East. She had played herself in a brilliant documentary “The World Before Her” which showed her entire journey to Femina Miss India Award and watching that, one feels extremely sad of her losing it. Ruhi stands out among all the girls in Calendar Girls too. Her role is the most entertaining one. Her character Mayuri is seen to be an intelligently clever personality who impresses directors in one go to which the directors say “yeh ladki bohot aagey jaayegi” and that includes Madhur Bhandarkar himself. He appears in two scenes of two minutes each where he is being boasted about what a great filmmaker he is! Too much ego in one frame!  

            While the first half is all about the choices they make after being successful, the second half shows the outcomes of those choices. Nandita played by Akanksha chooses to marry in a royal family where the wives being cheated by husbands is considered to be very normal. Nazneen Malik played by Avani Modi is shown to belong from Pakistan and she faces all the troubles because of that only. Sharon Pinto played by Kyra Dutt is shown to have a very interesting turn of life where after being rejected from various places, she gets an offer for anchoring in a news channel. That is why Sharon is seen to be a believer of fate whose mantra is, “just relax and go with the flow”. Paroma Ghosh played by Satapurna Pyne suffers all because of her boyfriend.

              So, basically the choices they made, the fate drove them there. The screenplay is well written, the concept is good but the lame dialogues that try hard to come up with a punch, sound absurd. Well, I am talking about these kind of dialogues “Agar Film ka Hero Kumar Khan ya Kapoor na ho toh maza hi kya”. Music is extremely ordinary, and one misses Salim-Sulaiman badly who were one of the reasons for Fashion’s success and Heroine’s tolerability. But the worst is the acting. It seems that Madhur Bhandarkar many a times would forget to say “cut” and the actors, particularly the supporting cast, would keep on doing their stuff, no matter how dramatically artificial the scene is looking.

As a screenplay goof-up or loose end we notice a scene, where Naazneen goes for her first assignment to a client who is some famous power broker. Meeta Vashisht’s character Ananya, gives a full build-up that if she satisfies the guy, he will rescue her from any soup she lands in. But in the climax when she does land in a crisis, this seed-in isn’t used. If the Writer felt he didn’t want to use that seed-in, it could have been edited out of the final film. Having it there and not using it makes no sense. If the Writer forgot it then it looks a miss-out on part of writing that you had a tool but couldn’t use.  It might have given some different twist and much bigger & ironical revelation of Politics – Glamour Nexus. You empathize most with Nazneen and while other girls come to terms with their lives, why Writers felt Naaz should suffer, comes as a huge disappointment had you invested in the ambition of the character. What does the filmmaker wants to say, one questions.   

             So in the nutshell,  inspite of having a good theme, a good concept, partially good screenplay, the film fails to hold you, engage you and you feel exhausted at times.

 It’s time that Madhur Bhandarkar surely needs to introspect and probably turn over his Calendar to new times..

   Prakhar Khare

A film buff who loves to read, write and analyze cinema, literature and music and connect them with life..

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