By: By Taran Adarsh (IndiaFM.com)
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 21 January 2005
Madhur Bhandarkar has always believed in tackling varied themes in his films. From Trishakti, his directorial debut, to Aan, his last release, his films have had something to say. Irrespective of their box-office outcome, the fact cannot be denied that Madhur is an avid storyteller.
Madhur?s latest endeavour Page 3 also tackles an unusually realistic theme.
As the title suggests, Page 3 delves into the lives of the rich and famous. It takes potshots at the upper strata ? right from gay fashion designers, to struggling actors, to social workers, to socialites. Even the media isn?t spared!
Page 3 takes the viewer to a world that?s surreal, where relationships and friendships are capricious, where people lead dual lives, sporting a [false] mask all the while. In short, Page 3 exposes, ridicules, mocks and scoffs at the lives of Page 3 personalities.
If the subject of Page 3 is its USP, it?s also a deterrent. For, a subject like this finds few takers when it comes to cinema. Depicting the phony lives and the wild parties of the rich may appeal to those who either belong to the clique, or those who are in awe of them. For a majority of viewers, a peek into the fake world of social butterflies is as off-putting as having an ice-candy in chilly winter. Even otherwise, there?s no identification with Page 3 personalities!
Besides, while Page 3 does make a point, the impact is not as hammer-strong as one expects it to be. And that?s where the film falters!
Page 3 is viewed from the eyes of a young journalist, Madhvi [Konkona Sen Sharma], who hails from Bangalore. Since childhood, she?d nursed a desire to take up journalism as a career.
Madhvi gets a job at Nation Today newspaper. Her job involves covering those highly-glamourised Page 3 parties and dos. Her boss, editor Deepak Suri [Boman Irani], is quite helpful, and so is the team.
Madhvi is leading a content life, sharing a rented apartment with Pearl [Sandhya Mridul], an air-hostess, when she comes across Gayatri [Tara Sharma], a starlet. Gayatri moves into Madhvi?s apartment and they soon become thick buddies.
But after a point, Madhvi gets fed up of Page 3 reporting. It is actually a bomb blast coverage that serves as a real shocker. She realizes that such parties are a mere sham.
In the meantime, Pearl starts dating a tycoon and heads for the U.S. Prior to that, Gayatri is ditched by her star-boyfriend Rohit [Bikram Saluja]. Now, Madhvi is all the more resolved and determined to change the system. Along with a crime reporter Vinayak [Atul Kulkarni], Madhvi starts focusing on serious issues.
But, in the end, she is back to square one ? she gets the Page 3 beat to cover yet again!
Page 3 is a well-intended effort. Also, very rarely do we see films being devoted to the mechanics of a newspaper. Besides, it also makes a sincere attempt at bringing to light socially relevant issues. And, of course, Madhur makes a scathing attack at the Page 3 regulars and their plastic lives in his flick.
While the film is not all that gripping in the first half, it does manage to hold your attention in the post-interval portions... Intermittently.
Post-interval, there are some shocking revelations. Like, a well-connected businessman is on the brink of being exposed for child abuse. Or Madhvi?s editor Suri, who refuses to stand by the scoop. Let alone getting a pat on the back for her efforts, she is fired from her job. Then there?s the wannabe male-model who gives in to the demands of a gay make-up man. Even the culmination to the story, when Madhvi realizes that it?s all about compromising in life, has been handled expertly.
But the problem is that the film tries to convey so many things in those two hours. From dual lives to riots to child molestation to the politics in a newspaper organization, too many issues have been crammed in the narrative. Besides, it takes a long time to come to the point.
Madhur Bhandarkar has handled a couple of dramatic portions well, but when compared to Madhur?s earlier works, especially Chandni Bar, Page 3 pales in comparison. Music [Shamir Tandon] is functional. Cinematography [Madhu S. Rao] is okay. Dialogues [Sanjeev Dutta, Madhur] are alright.
Konkona Sen Sharma is restrained, but it?s not a performance that you carry home. Sandhya Mridul excels in a significant role. Tara Sharma is fair. Boman Irani is outstanding yet again. Atul Kulkarni hardly gets scope. Bikram Saluja acts sincerely. Upendra Limaye [the cop] registers a strong impact. Jai Kalra makes a fair debut. Rehan Engineer impresses in a small role. Soni Razdan, Suchitra Pillai, Anju Mahendroo, Maya Alagh, Kunika and Madan Jain are adequate.
On the whole, Page 3 is a well-intended attempt, but a film like this caters to the big city audiences. At the box-office, it has better scope at multiplexes of metros mainly.
Rating:- * *.