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1:13:7 Ek Tera Saath review: An amateurish mishmash of genres
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Madhur Bhandarkar
Bipasha Basu,
Kay Kay Menon,
Rajat Kapoor,
Raj Babbar,
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Madhur Bhandarkar seems to have made it a specialty to make films that give one section of the audience a glimpse into a world normally hidden from their view. If Chandni Bar was a gasp-inducing peek into Mumbai's sordid dance bars, Satta was about political wheeling-dealing, Page 3 about the lives of the upper crust as seen by a middle class journalist. Corporate, as the title suggests is about the shenanigans of big business houses.

All the films have certain things in common. They are all urban, they are all critical of their characters to the point of muck-raking; they may not be perfectly accurate, but with enough sprinklings of reality to make them credible. The protagonists are not necessarily heroic, but they are courageous and most certainly unconventional. In this sense Bhankarkar is an auteur, even though his acerbic storytelling is not matched by cinematic flair. The end result may be a unsophisticated, bordering on the crude, but then he makes films that are a shrewd mix of niche and massy.

The 'class' multiplex crowd comes out of curiosity who would not want to know what goes on behind closed doors at Page 3 parties or Corporate boardrooms. The 'mass' crowd comes to gawk is that how the rich and famous live? To make the audience feel morally superior, he gets working class characters to comment, drivers in Page 3, peons and bodyguards in Corporate.

The skill also lies in picking subjects and backdrops that allow for a bit of sleaze and titillation to be included, without lowering the standard of the film to much. Another common factor in all his reality based films is that the chief protagonist is a woman, thrown into difficult circumstances, and not emerging victorious. Stronger and wiser, maybe. Like Konkona Sen in Page 3, Bipasha Basu is smart casting. She has that combination of worldliness and vulnerability required for the part.

Corporate appears to be set in a pre-liberalisation milieu, where tie-ups with foreign collaborators, or a new fizzy drink launched in the market was a big deal. In-film endorsements allow for power suits and latest laptops to be displayed on screen, but budget constraints obviously do not permit the kind of high gloss that a film set in the super elite class would demand. So Bhandarkar throws in enough English lines and business jargon to make the backdrop look sufficiently authentic, but remove the padding and the film is much too simplistic. Certain areas like the industrialist politician, nexus, the dash of Bollywood (in the form of an item girl doubling up as a whore), are overused film cliches. Corporate , in which two business barons stop at nothing in their war of upmanship, and finally throw an innocent to the sharks, has almost no perfectly 'good' characters -- all but one are quite willing to compromise with their conscience -- whether it is corporate espionage, selling contaminated products or cold-blooded murder. Bhandarkar does not flinch when it comes to exposing the evil that men do. He has gone beyond his 'guru' Ram Gopal Varma (Bhandarkar was once RGV's assistant) in this area. His ugliness is as unglamourised as his heroine's make-up less face.


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