Saturday, September 26, 2015

Calendar Girls 

Unsave The Date 

Get this… a new actress is shooting in a studio when her secretary excitedly whispers to her that someone important is on the neighbouring set.

She rushes over and “Oh-my-Gods” over Madhur Bhandarkar!  She praises his films, and flatters him; he is not at all embarrassed, either in the scene, or as the director of the film in which he pays tribute to himself. If that is not tacky, what is!

Calendar Girls is just like Bhandarkar’s other films (Page 3, Fashion, Heroine), in which he sets out to reveal the grime under the glamour.

Five girls are selected to model for a calendar (obviously referring to the Kingfisher calendar), which is supposedly a sign of achievement and power. How posing in tiny bikinis is empowering it’s hard to say, but the girls see it as a means to bigger things—modelling, films, marrying into wealth. So much so that they introduce themselves not as “model” but as “calendar girl.” As if that is a career by itself!

Mayuri from Rohtak (Ruhi Singh) gets a toehold into the movies with the help of a secretary, the likes of whom have long been replaced by talent management companies. Nazneen (Avani Modi) from Pakistan is forced to become an “escort girl”;  Nandita from Hyderabad (Akanksha Puri) marries a rich playboy and is informed by his father that philandering is a family tradition.  Paroma from Kolkata (Satarupa Pyne) gets sucked into the murky world of gambling and match-fixing. The only one who gets out relatively undamaged, is Sharon from Goa (Kyra Dutt) who becomes a TV anchor. (There is a laugh-out-loud moment when she is informed that her entertainment show is so successful that she is being sent to Delhi to become a real journalist—since when are anchors reading off teleprompters called journalists?)

The film has all the sleazy clichés who exploit these young women—creepy politicians, businessmen and diplomats, shady talent managers and madams, opportunistic boyfriends—but not one scene with any depth or fresh insight.  Satire is in broad strokes, like the actress being paid to attend a funeral where she is pawed by slimy old men.

The plot is superficial, the dialogue is awful and the film shoddy in every way. Not one of the girls can act—maybe that was not the criterion for casting them.  Bhandarkar could pass off his previous cut-rate cautionary tales as exposes, Calendar Girls is just a crass, feel-bad film.


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