Sunday, February 08, 2009

LBC & Victory 

Luck By Chance

The ways of showbiz hold those outside in utmost fascination-- fuelled by a star struck media and enough gossip to keep several media buzzing endlessly.

The film industry brings hundreds of hopefuls to Mumbai everyday, most of whom drift into oblivion. There is exploitation, frustration and heartbreak...and then, there are the fairy tale happy endings.

Zoya Akhtar's Luck By Chance tells the story of some people in the industry with humour and compassion. Perhaps to appeal to the audience, many of whom are familiar to Bollywood from what they read and hear, she gives them exactly what they expect to see. There are no secrets, no great insider views, but what there is, seems watchable enough.

Vikram (Farhan Akhtar) is the rich Delhi kid, who comes the acting school route (Saurabh Shukla plays a hilarious acting coach called Nandkishore) to struggle in relative comfort. Sona (Konkana Sen Sharma) is a Kanpur girl, who dreams of the big break, promised by a sleazy producer (Aly Khan). They meet and fall in love during the process of encouraging each other.

Around them, are an old style 'star maker' producer Romy Rolly (Rishi Kapoor), who is aware that the corporate culture coming in might change the way films are made, and the film he is producing, is a make-or-break thing for him. The film is to be made by his brother, a failed actor (Sanjay Kapoor), starring the precocious Niki (Isha Sharvani), daughter of a yesteryear's actress Nina Walia (Dimple Kapadia).

Their hero, Zafar Khan (Hrithik Roshan) slithers out of the film because he gets an offer from Karan Johar. Every other actor (many real stars in cameo) turns him down, which necessitates the search for a new star, and Vikram turns out to be the lucky one--who gets the break by chance, because he happens to be in the right place at the right time, and has that dash of smartness and subterfuge to press his advantage when he gets a toe in the door. His success alienates him from Sona who stood by him when he was struggling.

Luck by Chance is by no means a definitive look at the world of films, but it has enough moments to make it charming, and sudden fine strokes in the midst of the broad ones-- like a quick look at a struggler's worn shoe, or the clothes pegs attached to the backs of the stars' costumes holding them in place. The film is sumptuous to look at, though the struggler's pads look too classy and there isn't a hint of squalor anywhere. That circus dance numbers is better than anything the kind of film she portrays in the film has accomplished so far.

Zoya covers other 'types' like the producer wife (Juhi Chawla), several strugglers, star hangers on, a gossip journalist, a choreographer, a theatre actor who disdains film, a star secretary and more star cameos than one can count.

Her touch is light, she really cares for her characters (even the selfish Zafar and the manipulative Neena), and gets perfect performances from Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, and a fine piece of casting in Farhan Akhtar and Konkana Sen Sharma, who give their roles a great deal of sincerity.

It is a somewhat sanitized version of the film industry-- just touching on the grime, but not so deep as to make the viewer uncomfortable; it also portrays the glamour, but not so much as to have to leave the viewer disoriented. The director wants the audience to get a peek behind the scenes, but also leave the cinema with their illusions intact.


Formulaic elements tend to creep into any sports film, and it takes either great imagination (Lagaan) or really unusual characters (Chak De India) to circumvent the predictability problem.

Ajitpal Mangat may have tried to make a 'different' cricket film, but intention is about where it stops. Unless one is a cricket buff, and is out star spotting, there's not much to appeal-- not the way, say, Lagaan or Iqbal did, at an emotional level too, not just at a game-playing level. In any real match, there is more drama than a regular run-of-the-mill film.

Vijay Shekhawat (Hurman S. Baweja), Jaisalmer boy who wants to be a cricketer, but it isn't easy for him. Still, like many real life cricketers from small towns, he does make it against all odds. Again, like some we know, he loses his head, almost destroys his career and has to fight to regain his glory.

Even if Vijay's rise-fall-and rise is somewhat interesting, the supporting characters are on the dull side-- like the principled father (Anupam Kher), the ever-supportive girlfriend (Amrita Rao), a duplicitous well wisher (Gulshan Grover).

Victory also has a full phalanx of national and international cricket stars like Harbhajan Singh and Brett Lee, but they really don't add anything to the film. One might as well see them on the field, doing what they do best—play.

Despite a reasonably earnest performance from Hurman S Baweja, this film remains an also-ran.


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