When he is not busy preening posturing and pontificating Madhur Bhandarkar can actually tell a spanking good story. Calendar Girls is familiar Bhandarkar territory. He penetrates the sham behind the glam of the entertainment industry and piece by piece dismantles its hypocrisies and double-speak.
Looking at the grime behind the glamour Calendar Girls builds a solid back-story for each of the five calendar girls. Akansha Puri, Avani Modi, Kyra Dutt, Ruhi Singh, Satarupa Pyne…agent provocateurs all, with bodies lithe enough to look they are for bikinis-born. None of the five girls can be said to be able actresses….not now at least. Though a couple of them do show some promise.
Maybe some day….
The telling of the intricately inter-woven tale ensures that the quintet of sexy girls’ lack of genuine acting chops does not take away from the sheer velocity in the narration.There is a brisk business-like quality to Bhandarkar’s story, as though time were running out on these ambitious girls whose singleminded devotion to their ambitions cripples them emotionally and spiritually.The redemption is just in time.
The plot plucks the 5 bikinis babes from different parts of India and one of them is from Pakistan. It is an interesting geo-cultural shuffle of cards handled with a fair degree of dexterity.
Bhandarkar’s cinema possesses the gift of the gab. The women, and here I mean not just the five girls whose destiny the plot constructs like a house of cards but also the others, have sharp tongues which they use to strip off the hypocrisy that underlines the man-woman relationship in the user-friendly entertainment industry.
Each of the five protagonists gets a chance to do a dramatic dance .And I don’t mean just the prancing on the beaches, of which there is plenty. To his credit Bhandarkar shoots the debutantes with custodial care and a casual flair. The Mauritian beaches seem to throw off the warning glow of the girls’ impending downfall. Sure enough, their world begins to come apart at the seams.
Bhandarkar revels in depicting the catastrophe that awaits the five girls. The plot’s strands move in several directions each defining the world that the girl’s so eagerly inhabited before their fates, fortune, contracts and boyfriends(in no particular order) let them down.
In Bhadarkar’s cinema the process of melt-down in the female protagonists’ life is always portrayed with a punch in the solar plexus. This time there is no Priyanka Chopra (Fashion) or Kareena Kapoor (Heroine) to make the bitter-sweet journey of the calendar girls seem like a province of powerhouse performances.
No National Award winning performances this time. Not even from the director Madhur Bhandarkar who doubles up as an actor in a cameo that seems to have been thrust into the narration only to remind us of his own importance in his scheme of things.Bring on the vanity van for the vanity man.
Contrary to the reviews that you have read so far Calendar Girls is not an awful film. It is in fact fairly engaging and sometimes powerful in its message on how far the ruthless metropolis takes the unsuspecting career girls before dumping them on the derrieres to re-gather their destiny.
Bravely Bhandarkar has cast 5 completely unknown faces as the principal players. These girls may grow into actors of substance some day. For now,they are built for the bikini.
And the calendar. One thing is for sure. You’ll never look at the calendar girls in next year’s Kingfisher product without wondering what they must gone through to get there.
Oh , I forgot. There is Suhel Seth playing Vijay Mallaya. Not an easy role to play. And this is not an easy film to make.Bhandarkar manages to make it look easy fluent and fluid most of the way.