Friday, July 07, 2006


It’s easy to see why female stars clamour to work with Madhur Bhandarkar, he gets them to play unusual characters in unusual settings. Who else would cast Bipasha Basu as a power-suited executive with a sharp brain and equally sharp moves?

In Corporate, Bhandarkar looks into what goes in inside the glossy interiors of big corporations. One doesn’t necessarily have to take his word for it, but the point he makes is that these guys (and some females) may wear suits, bandy nifty gadgets and frequent luxury hotels, but underneath they are all as mud-caked as street fighters.

Marwah (Raj Babbar) and Sehgal (Rajat Kapoor)—rivals in the food business, are so hung up on one-upmanship, that they do everything from snatching contracts, bribing politicians and bureaucrats, manipulating the media to stealing information and killing to get ahead.

For a film about the rarefied world of wealth and power, Corporate isn’t sufficiently glossy, but a marginal improvement on the unredeemed tackiness of Page 3. In what is supposed to be a part of a trilogy, Corporate has a format similar to Page 3— ensemble cast, the same superior sneering attitude (commentary by office peons, like that by drivers in Page 3), a dash of sleaze and over-simplification of events, corporate methods and characters.

His audience is obviously not real corporates, who will probably laugh at the caricaturing—but the class that would like to know what that plush world is all about, and would like to believe it is most unsavoury. Big businessmen are painted with the same tar brush as high society was in Page 3.

Still, with its faults, this is Bhandarkar’s own brand of ‘documentary’ fiction and he is getting better at it. The film is taut and briskly paced, piling on another crisis as soon one is resolved. The scales are evenly matched—except that glamorous Nishigandha (Bipasha Basu) and her boyfriend (Kay Kay Menon) work for Sehgal—and everyone is an equal in the dirty tricks department. Only one executive (Harsh Chhaya, competent) actually has the conscience to quit when he is asked to do something criminal.

Watching their antics—even with a lot of scepticism— is enjoyable. Not so satisfying are the lack of humour, the unhappy ending and the crushing of Nishigandha, who, you wished would take the Hindi film heroine to another level. But no, ambition in women continues to be punished!

Bipasha Basu gives a fine performance, letting her character be crafty without letting her become a vamp, but real power babe she ain’t. The actors – all those who have something substantial to do— are uniformly good. Unexpectedly first-rate performances come from the not so well-known actors—like Sandeep Mehta as a shifty, womanizing executive and Vinay Apte as the archetypal corrupt politician.


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