She's a heroine in Madhur Bhandarkar's world ? could it be that's she an in-control, smart professional who's enjoying and basking in her success? Hell, no. That would be boring. So here?s portraying the successful actress through the chauvinistic, condescending filter (as usual).
A character in the film describes Kareena's character as "moody, impulsive and over-emotional", while also adding that these are traits found in every heroine all over the world. How insulting and presumptuous!
And since she's an actress belonging to the "glamour ki duniya", a lesbian scene is not out of place. Also there's the staple scene where the lady goes hysterical screaming, "I am a star!! I am not over" while smashing things on the floor. What's life without a little drama, eh?
Here's the lowdown on the story which is actually pretty neatly wrapped up in the promos. Mahi (Kareena Kapoor) is a huge star but her career is on the downhill. Plus her clingy, insecure nature has her married boyfriend (Arjun Rampal) treat her like dirt. When her career and love life do not work out, she is unable to handle herself and takes desperate measures to keep herself afloat.
From an insecure person, the character becomes delirious, even reaching an adoption center where her application gets rejected. The thing is, Mahi's psychologist keeps telling her to stop looking at herself as a victim, while the film, ironically continues to do so. Whether her career, love-life, family or the media ? she's the one who is the target. These desperate, manipulative measures to elicit sympathy for the character continue throughout.
The totally defeatist ending is only a shade better than the depressing finale of The Dirty Picture (co-incidentally in both, the heroine's state gets progressively worse as she is unable to handle the travails of showbiz, until she has a meltdown towards the end).
Then you have dialogues treating the film industry as a separate planet with several conversations starting with, 'film industry mein?'. For example, a character (after spending the night with his lover) says that in the film industry you have to keep your lips and your zip closed. And oh, another one goes like this ? "Yeh film industry hai. Yahaan yaan to manipulate karo yaan manipulate ho jao." Or try this one, "Glamour industry mein sab fraud hain." Sigh.
More cliches abound. The gay characters talk in exaggerated and carticaturish tones while all heroines are catty and cruel reveling in each other's downfall. The journalists are without ethics and are the kind hat will ask hurtful personal questions to a superstar in a press conference organized for a film's promotion (never seen this kind of behavior in all my years as a journalist, after having attended zillions of press cons).
This could have been a real sneak-peek into the industry ? the film only scrapes the surface taking occasional digs at corporates, fading actresses who buy an IPL team or superstars who do experimental cinema to prove a point.
A word about the performances. Kareena is an astute performer, always has been. Here, she performs with heart and gusto but is let down by the skewed characterization. It's a pity really. One can only imagine the magic the talented actress could have created with a more honestly and intelligently structured character. Divya Dutta sparkles in her brief role as a ruthless PR professional. The love interests ? Arjun Rampal and Randeep Hooda ? don't make much impact.
Other than the central cast, almost everyone's acting is unforgivably bad. Even the central cast, for some bizarre reason, speaks their dialogue as if they've learnt the words by rote and are at a poetry recital.
In the end, what one feared turns out true. Madhur Bhandarkar holds on to his Fashion formula, fearing to deviate and let go. In fact, in retrospect, Fashion was a far superior film. Despite the full-of-masala subject and a performer like Kareena, the film has a false, artificial tone. Too bad, really!