Luck By Chance

I took in Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut this weekend, and what I witnessed was a film that delivered the very best in what every film promises: a remarkably well written script, wonderfully acted performances and brilliant direction all culminating into a movie which manages to strike the fine balance between art house cinema and commercial entertainment.

While it's not the first to take on the Hindi film industry as a subject, it is certainly the most authentic and modern adaptation we've seen in a while. The movie is part satirical and part realistic in it's depiction of the struggle to make it big in the movie industry. It is neither a movie showing the extreme dark side of the film industry nor is it a shiny bright fairy tale, but rather an honest portrayal of what the main characters Vikram and Sona go through and the means by which they achieve their goals.

There's something about Farhan Akhtar that I just can't get out of my head. It could be the charm that oozes out of every single pore from his oh-so-cute face, or it could be the talent that shines whether he's acting, directing, singing, or hosting his tv show. Whatever it is, I am hooked! As the struggling actor, Vikram Jaisingh, Farhan gives an excellent performance as the boy who innocently, then manipulatively, works the system to his selfish advantage, climbing the ladder of success, knowingly hurting those who care about him.

Konona Sen Sharma, whose majority of work is based primarily in Indian arthouse and independent films, plays Sona Mishra, the mistress of small-time producer Satish Chowdhury (Alyy Khan). Her struggle to leave behind all the two-bit parts and become an established first tier heroine is beautifully and genuinely played.

Though the subject is serious, the mood of the film is kept light at all times by the multitude of quirky characters and funny dialogues played by an all-star ensemble cast. Veteran film producer Romi Rolly (Rishi Kapoor) gives an enthralling and amazing performance putting a lasting impression to his character. Ranjit Rolly (Sanjay Kapoor), is the failed actor turned director, who is always making funny jokes and moves trying to convince himself and his crew about the next shot. Minty Rolly, (Juhi Chawla) is also a character to remember, as the superstitious wife. A lot of other small cameos by Anurag Kashyap, as the screenplay writer who plagiarizes Hollywood films from the DVDs, Isha Shravani as the superstar daughter, who is too dumb and too pretty. And lastly Dimple Kapadia as the ex-screen siren who is attempting to launch her daughter into super stardom.

In and amongst everything else, there are plenty of insider jokes spilt at every corner (Nikki Walia unable to seek Romi Rolly's blessing due to her tight dress) There's even an avenue for sight gags: did you catch the posters for 'A Fistful of Rupees' and 'The Good, the Bad and the Worst'!

The few number of songs in the movie, seems adequate and never forced. My favorites are the opening number 'Yeh Zindagi Bhi' which serves as dignified homage to the upline and downchain support functions of the entire film industry, and Pyaar Ki Dastaan, a beautifully melodious song picturized on Vikram and Nikki during filming of their movie.

And I can't forget to mention the multitude of small cameos that include the who's who of the industry, from Amir Khan to Karan Johar to Abhishek Bachchan to *gasp* Shahrukh Khan (what a nice little packaged treat for me!) Shah Rukh's is by far the most impactful cameo, and gives the most powerful and defining lines in the movie, lines which were perhaps not given to the dialogue writers but have been his own firm values that have made him the biggest superstar of this Industry.

The ending, though unconventional for a Bollywood movie, gives this film a certain gravitas in being unflinching in the messages it wants to make about the industry, where the tenacious succeed and there is not much room for sentimentalism.

12 Response to "Luck By Chance"

  1. bollywooddeewana says:
    May 3, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    I really didn't get this film at all, at the end of it i was like is this it, i wanted more, i felt it lacked something + i felt iwas quite predictable, i knew what was going to happen to his relationship with Konkona. My rants aside, the cinematogaphy & songs were great

  2. shell says:
    May 3, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    bollywooddeewana - It certainly didn't have the happy ending we all love to see (that's the romantic in me). I was happy though to see Sona stand up on her own two feet and not fall back into a bad relationship (that's the feminist in me).

  3. bollywooddeewana says:
    May 4, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    it wasn't the happy ending, it was something else, i can't place my hands on it

  4. shell says:
    May 4, 2009 at 9:11 PM

    Good thing there's hundreds of movies to choose from then, hey?

  5. Jules says:
    May 8, 2009 at 11:14 PM

    I didn't find this one all that exciting at all. Lacked the great song and dance numbers, and in the end, I felt it was far more about her journey of self discovery than his. Not one of my top 10, I don't think, but as always, nice to watch it with you!

  6. shell says:
    May 9, 2009 at 7:26 AM

    Jules - I agree that, in the end, it felt more like her journey than Vikram's. I am well on my way to learing the words to 'Yeh Zindagi Bhi'.

  7. Anonymous Says:
    July 27, 2009 at 7:01 PM

    Konkona is a truly versatile actress. She has done well in all the movies I have seen so far- Mr & Mrs Iyer, 15 Park Avenue, Life in a Metro, Amu, Laga Chunri Mein Daag, Luck by Chance.

    I haven't seen Madhur Bandharkar's Page 3 - konkons is supposed to have done a good job there too.

  8. shell says:
    July 28, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    @ Anon - I just saw Konkona in a cameo in Fashion - that was a nice surprise. I haven't seen any of her other movies, but I thought she was terrific in this one. Would you recommend all of the above films? I thought I heard that Life in a Metro was not very good.

  9. Anonymous Says:
    July 28, 2009 at 7:55 PM

    Laaga Chunri Mein Daag is a commercial yashraj movie with Rani Mukherjee & Abhishek and Konkona Sen with Kunal Kapoor. The movie is worth watching for Rani and Konkona. Songs are also melodious. Story may not be so appealing. But I would recommend this movie.

    Mr & Mrs Iyer is a serious movie based on riots. A truly good movie made by Aparna Sen (noted film maker and actress and also Konkona's mum in real life). This a truly good movie intense though. Konkona won a National Award for this. This movie is in English actually.

    Life in a Metro - Konkona and Kangana Ranuat's track are good.

    15 Park Avenue again by Aparna Sen is a serious movie about a young girl with schizophrenia.

    Amu is a really good movie. Again a serious one.

  10. shell says:
    July 29, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    Thanks for the quick recaps. I usually tend to go for lighter fare, but I like a serious movie every once in a while if it's done well. I'll take a look at those. Thanks again for the recommendations.

  11. E says:
    September 29, 2009 at 10:38 AM

    I loved this movie!

    The characters were so fleshed out, and the ending wasn't super predictable with the "lesson-learned" kinda moral. I thought Farhan and Konkona gave brilliant performances and so did all the others. Sanjay Kapoor was hilarious and Dimple Kapadia was absolutely amazing.

    All these little moments in the film gave it such a realistic touch - the actor shyly asking Farhan's help with his english on the application, the multi-voice narrative while reading the sensationalistic article, the jealous roommate trying to act normal around Farhan signing autographs... All wonderful.

    Even my boy Hrithik's bits were kinda fun, and "Baaware" was one of the best dance numbers ever - man, what a dancer.

    Great movie!

  12. shell says:
    September 29, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Namaste E and welcome! I totally agree with you. Even though I don't think it was loved by the masses, I liked it alot.
    Thanks for stopping by.