Cast:Priyanka Chopra, Arjan Bajwa, Mugdha Godse, Arbaaz Khan, Harsh Chhaya, Sameer Soni, Kangna Ranaut, Kitu Gidwani
Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Fashion’ is a nice but overlong movie that could do with some snipping.
Running at the length of 17 long reels, the movie tells an unending human tale of ambition, success, degradation and re-emergence set against the backdrop of the fashion industry. At the centre of the story is Meghna Mathur ( Priyanka Chopra ) who comes to Mumbai to become a “supermodel”, against the wishes her father in Chandigarh.
From the moment she sets her foot in the glam world, Meghna is exposed to the superficialities and ugly realities of the glam world of appearances. It’s a world where men are fashionably gay and women are used as “eye candy” in elite parties. On her way up the ladder, Meghna has to make many compromises. She has to pose in lingerie just to get her portfolio made. She has to put her work above her personal life to climb the ladder of success.
As Meghna gets sucked into the world of fashion, she becomes a victim of her own success. She loses her boyfriend Maanav ( Arjan Bajwa ), a struggling model who opened his doors to her when she had nowhere to go. She loses her good friend Janet ( Mugdha Godse ) whom she befriended as a struggler. And, above all, she loses her self-respect and her confidence after being used and dumped by the modeling agency Panache and its owner ( Arbaaz Khan ).
Parallel to Meghna’s story is the brief tale of Shonali ( Kangana Ranaut ), a cocaine-snorting, cranky, lanky model who is a show-stopper at fashion shows. Like Meghna, Shonali, too, has been used and dumped by the glam world. The only difference is that Meghna bounces back after hitting the rock bottom, while Shonali bites the dust.
‘Fashion’ starts off pretty well as a viewer is introduced to the fashiondom with its pansy men and plastic-smile women. But the movie begins to drag in the second half, with Meghna’s downfall. It becomes too grim, too somber. And it drags on and on. Haute Torture? The movie overstays its welcome but ends on a high note, with some drama thrown in. Madhur Bhandarkar indulges in a lot of clichés (like gay designers and exploiting bosses) but perhaps they could not have been avoided. After all, clichés they may be, they reflect the truth. Trouble starts when Madhur’s passion with his subjects begins to supersede their relevance to the story. That’s where ‘Fashion’ becomes heavy, tiring and exhausting experience.
Priyanka Chopra is an actress who doesn’t have any definitive style to her acting but she is the soul of ‘Fashion’. She is an under-confident, middle-class girl at the beginning of the story and transforms into an arrogant model full of attitude in the second half before almost turning into a zombie with her fall from fame. Kangana Ranaut actually has a natural knack for playing the proverbial ‘girl interrupted’. She excels in the role of a disturbed model who eventually loses her mental balance.
On the sidelines, Arbaaz Khan is mechanical, while Arjan Bajwa is pretty good in his performance. Mugdha Godse doesn’t have much acting range. Kitu Gidwani is okay.
While ‘Fashion’ ends up testing your patience, it does have many things going for it. For instance, the styling of the actors done by Narendra Kumar, Rita Dhody and Rick Roy. The songs in the film are woven seamlessly into the plot and it is here some filmmakers in apna Bollywood can learn from Madhur. But Madhur ought to have been more controlled, restrained and less indulgent in the subject. Had he done that, ‘Fashion’ might have been a gripping film right to its conclusion.