Fashion

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Opened: October 29 in India

CHENNAI, India -- Madhur Bhandarkar is sometimes compared to Quentin Tarantino. Both worked in video rental stores that gave them virtually unlimited access to world cinema, eventually inspiring them to make movies. Bhandarkar’s second film in 2001 “Chandni Bar” on Mumbai’s bar girls won critical acclaim and his first National Award. He won two more for “Page 3” and “Traffic Signal,” consistently weaving fiction out of fact.

In his latest, “Fashion,” he returns to the world of glamour, where he had taken us earlier in “Page 3,” and attempts to tell us about the rancid ruthlessness of the ramp and its power to lift and dump men and women and to celebrate and destroy their lives.

Using model Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) as his protagonist, Bhandarkar spins his story of the Indian fashion world where often big achievements come with equally big compromises and where great dreams crash into dreadful disappointments. Small town Meghna who arrives in Mumbai confident of being a super model finds herself building castles of accolades on the graveyard of her most intimate relationships.

She loses her struggling model boyfriend Maanav (Arjan Bajwa) and is cornered into being the mistress of a clothing and retail tycoon, Abhijit Sarin (Arbaaz Khan). Meghna befriends and antagonizes not-so-successful model Janet (newcomer Mugdha Godse) and her gay husband, top designer Rahul Arora (Sameer Soni), who are into a marriage of convenience.

Finally, engulfed by her success-driven arrogance and conceit, Meghna falls, but unlike her catwalk competitor, Shonali (Kangana Ranaut), she escapes relatively unscathed.

Beautifully choreographed by top model Lubna Adams, the ramp scenes are a visual treat, and executed with finesse. But once beyond the glitz and glamour, the film fails to capture the emotional angst of its characters, most of whom walk through their parts with little conviction or ability to draw audiences into their lives.

Chopra is fabulously hot as the fashion diva, but away from the floodlights she hardly does justice to her role as one who wrongs and is wronged. The only exception to the uninspiring string of performances is Ranaut. She is terrific as the cocaine-snorting, mentally disturbed model who finds shimmer turn into sleaze and her life go into a tailspin. In the end, the movie seems soulless, caricatured and cliched.

Production companies: UTV Motion Pictures and Bhandarkar Entertainment.
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Mugdha Godse, Arjan Bajwa, Sameer Soni and Arbaaz Khan.
Director: Madhur Bhandarka.
Writers: Madhur Bhandarkar, Ajay Monga.
Producer: Ronnie Screwvala.
Director of photography: Mahesh Limaye.
Music: Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant.
Costume designers: Rita Dhody, Narendra Kumar Ahmed.
Production designer: Nitin Chandrakant Desai.
Editor: Devendra Murudeshwar.
No rating, 150 minutes.

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