Troy Ribeiro reviews Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Calendar Girls’ – VERDICT – Jaded, faded with nothing new **
Film: “Calendar Girls”; Director: Madhur Bhandarkar; Cast: Akanksha Puri, Avani Modi, Kyra Dutt, Ruhi Singh, Satarupa Pyne.
While Madhur Bhandarkar tries washing away the grease paint off the glamour industry, he desperately seems to be recycling the content from his previous films, thus offering nothing new to his audience.
If you have seen “Fashion” and “Heroine”, then “Calendar Girls” is no different in terms of setting, emotions and drama. Except, here you have an equally glossy film with ample bronze and golden-hued skin show.
Famed for being brutally honest about his depiction about his subjects, this film offers an insight into the lives of the bikini-clad calendar girls, a phenomenon created by industrialist Vijay Mallya’s popular Kingfisher calendars. After their selection, the never-ending prologue delves into the excitement and dreams of the five girls – Nandita Menon from Hyderabad, Paroma Ghosh from Kolkata, Sharon Pinto from Goa, Nazneen Malik from Pakistan and Mayuri Chauhan from Rohtak.
Soon, after a quick photo session in the Maldives, The Calendar 2014 is launched with much fanfare. The girls become overnight celebrities, who are now predictably prone to be cursed by the demons of fame.
The script intricately weaves each one’s story passionately, revealing a graph that starts from an evocative high and only plunges down the emotional scale, predictably so.
The five new girls making their debut are competitive and confident. They slip into the character skin with grace and ease, occasionally faltering with their diction and dialogue delivery. They are ably supported by a plethora of able-bodied hunks who are cast opposite each of the girls and a few in just one-scene roles.
Notable among them are the characters Pinakee Chatterjee, Harsh Narang, Imzamaam, Akhil Sood and Shashank. Suhel Seth, an otherwise brilliant actor whose character, Rishab Kukreja is modelled on the lines of Vijay Mallya along with Kiran Kumar as the senior industrialist Mr. Narang, are wasted on screen.
Rohit Roy as photographer Timmy Sen along with Mita Vashist as the sleazy fixer Ananya Raichand, Suchitra Pillai as the socialite Naina and Madhur Bhandarkar as himself, are perfunctory.
Madhur’s writing is sedate, unenterprising and cheesy with dialogues like, “Har bade actor ko to dus takes dene padathe hain. Aur aap ko, one take aur paise tumhare bank mein (Every big actor needs to give 10 takes. But you just need one take and the money will be in your bank).”
Also, for a National Award winning director, his direction is carelessly chaotic and tacky. This is very much evident in the restaurant scene, where Nandita cries her heart out to Nazneen about her straying husband and at the same time unintentionally sermonises about the escorts business.
Every scene seems to have a distinctive Madhur Bhandarkar influence which, over repetitive representations, seem lacklustre and jaded with oft seen, stereotypical characterizations. This pales the viewing experience, this time over.
Also, the drama seems forced. One is curious to understand as to why Paroma’s brother and father bail her out after the match-fixing accusation only to later leave her to fend for herself? The plotting of these characters is confusing.
The music too offers nothing new and exciting. The songs are packaged as music videos and the lyrics don’t add any meaning to the narration.
It might be a good idea to wait for his next, “Airhostess,” which is subtly announced in this film.
At the end of “Calendar Girls”, the film simply states: “Life is all about the individual choices we make.”
One wonders, if this is actually a warning message for those who intend to watch this film.