By Ishan Marvel:
Arvind Kejriwal and Madhur Bhandarkar would make good friends. The ye-sab-bhrasht-hain (everyone is corrupt) syndrome unites them. So yes, yet another movie from Bhandarkar telling us about ambitious young women and their encounters with the big, bad world of entertainment and power—and about all the fun that rich people are having, and how fucked up it actually is. But well, times have changed, and mores are changing—and we no longer care, we want to have fun too! And on that note, the film is dull. After a while, you couldn’t care less how the five parallel stories of the Calendar Girls turn out, and how Bhandarkar will tie them up in the end.
For the record, he does it with his trademark sense of ambiguous justice: where two of the lead characters accept their role in the system under twisted situations, another gets lucky and gets what she wanted. After all, they keep saying “ye ladki toh aage tak jaayegi” (this girl will go far) about her throughout the film, which at first, you assume to be over-enthusiastic foreshadowing of a sinister fate—but no, thank Bhandarkar for not putting us through another rape scene like the awkward and unnecessary sex ones. Only one calendar girl, the ‘prettiest’ one, meets a somewhat happy ending, working as a “serious journalist” on television and married to her boss. The last girl dies. As for the plot twists, most were either predictable or cringe-worthy.
The actual calendar-shooting process was depicted through a montage of about five minutes after a round of fake, happy “Cheers!” beside a hotel swimming pool. The song ended along with the shoot, celebrated by a champagne money-shot on the camera lens. There’s also a lot of air-kissing and hugging throughout the film. And as a PR executive sums up the ‘glamour world’: “Party karogi nahi, toh dikhogi nahi—fir ye khoobsurat chehra kaise bikega?” (If you don’t party, you won’t be visible – then how will this pretty face sell?)
Special mentions: Mita Vashisht, one of those women who always make their presence felt; and Rohit Roy (disgrace to his talented elder brother, Ronit) for providing a good example of what forced acting means—even Suhel Seth fared better. As for the boilerplate disclaimer regarding coincidental resemblances—well, among others, you’ll find Vijay Mallya, N. Srinivasan, Lalit Modi, S. Sreesanth, Veena Mallik, and references to Big Boss.
And of course, for a movie called Calendar Girls, there have to be bass-thumping songs to which the girls can gyrate in tight and short-cut clothes at various locales, with revolving camera angles and the works. ‘We Will Rock The World’ and ‘Let’s Do The Thumka On The Shaadi-Wali Night‘ were two such songs. There’s also a lot of ‘slut-shaming’; and in passing, a stereotypical gay designer, and a token blonde Russian model called Olga.
Then, another Bhandarkar trademark: a plaintive song with wistful lyrics that keeps running in the background during appropriate (or at times, not-so-appropriate) times (think ‘Kitne Ajeeb‘ from Page 3): ‘Ye Kahaan Le Aayi Khwahishein‘.
There is no doubt regarding Bhandarkar’s abilities as a director, like with Ram Gopal Verma (‘Satya’, ‘Company’—enough said). However, people must adapt, especially with a mass-oriented medium such as film. And it’s not as if there’s a paucity of issues in our country for a good filmmaker to pursue. Please, let’s get over the 90s.