If you want to cut the crap and read the review directly, scroll past the first two paragraphs. If you have nothing better to do than pick your nose and check your scraps, read on.
What do you get when you combine two great actresses, one great actor, one charming actor, one character actor, a famous actress of yore (who is, if I might add, a famous mother, wife, daughter-in-law, and now, mother-in-law), an acclaimed director, an innovative music director, wonderful locales, excellent promos, and a kissing scene? I know this question tempts you to go to the start menu, click Shutdown, sneak out of office, take a loan on your credit card, borrow Mallya’s chartered helicopter, land straight on PVR’s terrace, buy tickets in black at 10 times the price, grab a cone of popcorn, and nestle in your expensive seat, waiting for the movie to start. But hey! What’s this? Why’s is the ticket line empty? Is there another India-Pak final today? Or is there a new Pamela Anderson video on YouTube?
Well, my dear hopelessly hopeful Bollywood fan, are you out of your mind? How could you miss the most important name on the poster? YASHRAJ FILMS. Read it again. YASHRAJ. Yes, the same house that succeeds in turning everything it touches to crap- a genetically mutated Midas. In many ways, Yashraj Films is worse than Suniel Shetty; or even Tusshar Kapoor. The latter two at least don’t try to fool you into watching their films.
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag was disappointing to say the least. After Parineeta, Pradeep Sarkar was expected to spin another tasteful web around his audience. But though his actors did well, though the cinematography was good and so was the camera work, the story was a loser from the start. It wasn’t the kind of movie that promises much in the start and falls flat as it progresses. It was drab right from the first shot, and never made an attempt to rise above the mediocre.
The film was bathed in clichés. Like every hatke Hindi movie now, the protagonist (Rani Mukherji) is a prostitute; and like every modern Hindi movie she finds a man who’s ready to accept her in spite of this; like every hatke / non-hatke Hindi movie it begins with a song; like every prostitute-centric Hindi film she is vindicated by the majboori drama; and like every Hindi film worth its salt it has a happy ending. If you’re curious about the story, please read on- don’t bother buying even a pirated CD.
The story begins in Banaras, with its picturesque ghaats and bustling roads. Anupam Kher is the head of a middle class family, leading his retired life in an ancestral home. Crippled by the termination of his pension, his wife (Jaya Bachchan) is forced to wield the sewing machine day and night for their daily bread. As Anupam’s perfidious brother tries to wrest the house from him, Anupam laments for not having a son to bail him out. This activates some main-aapka-beta-banoongi hormone in Rani Mukherji, who resolves to go to Mumbai to earn a living for herself and her family; and show her father that having a daughter is not such a curse after all. Konkona, her younger sister, is oblivious of the family’s hardships and lives her happy, giggly life to the fullest.
When Rani dearest lands in Mumbai with just a 10th class certificate in hand, nobody is willing to employ her. In her desperation she agrees to sleep with a man in return for employment. The man, however, refuses to give her the job after a night of fun. (Of course! If sex could elevate your status from a 10th-pass to a working professional, colleges would be sweatshops of a different kind!) When the man tosses a bundle of notes at her, she gets her big idea. From a small town happy-go-lucky girl, she becomes a “high-society escort”- which is a euphemism for a prostitute much like “a sub-optimal performer” is a euphemism for Tusshar Kapoor. (I’m sorry I use Tusshar Kapoor so often. I can’t help it; because when you scrape the proverbial rock bottom, all you find underneath is Tusshar)
It’s amazing how the 10th-pass girl who eats Hindi, sleeps Hindi, and giggles Hindi, starts conversing so fluently in English after a brief training period. Spoken English classes shouldn’t miss a trick here- they must highlight this highly ‘satisfying’ job prospect as an incentive for joining their course. Anyway, Rani’s escorting talents earn her a fortune, and she remits huge sums of money home to fight her villainous chacha. Anupam Kher was delighted with his daughter’s prosperity; while Jaya Bachchan, who knew her daughter’s plight, was the perfect embodiment of the sad smiley (she should seriously consider taking a royalty from Yahoo). In one of her escorting trips abroad, she meets Abhishek Bachchan who along with expertise in patents and trademarks has a gold medal in the spot-the-prostitute championship. Still, he falls in love with her; but is aggrieved when she just vanishes into thin air.
Yawn! I’m bored of writing. I’m sure you’re bored of reading too. And I’ve just completed the first half! I’ll speed it up for your sake and mine. Konkana gets a job in an advertising agency in Mumbai, where she falls in love with Kunal Kapoor, the Creative Head. Konkana comes to know about Rani’s profession and showers us with some more senti dialogues. Kunal comes to Banaras to marry Konkana, and lo and behold, Abhishek turns out to be his brother. While junior was busy solemnizing his nuptials, senior was trying to woo the aadarshwaadi prostitute. Rani says no to him because of her sleeping habit, but then Abhishek reveals his prostitute-spotting talents and says he fell in love with her in spite of (or because of?) her promiscuity. He was apparently moved when she recited the Hanuman Chalisa during a turbulent flight. Anyway, all’s well that ends well. Abhishek says please, Kunal says please on his behalf, Rani says yes, Anupam’s chest bloats, the villainous brother’s chest shrivels, and so they lived happily ever after.
Well, that’s about it. At the end of 2-and-a-half hours I felt like I’d seen nothing at all- as enraged as Rani was after that fruitless first night of labour. I felt like sitting for some more time to claim my money’s worth; soak up the AC for some more time. If you still want to watch this movie, you either hate me or you have no better use for money. If you haven’t seen the promos, you’ll probably like it; but for those who have great expectations (like I did), stay away.