Sunday, December 6, 2009

Luck By Chance: Farhan v. Hrithik

I know I'm being Spammy McSpams-a-lot today but there is just so much to talk about as 2009 winds to a close! Here is my original take on Luck by Chance.

Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance is not a commercial film, although it has more commercial elements than something like Page 3. And I have a feeling it won’t do too well at the box office because of this. Taking a behind-the-scenes look at the “Hindi Film Industry” (as Dimple’s character calls it), Luck by Chance is about success and failure – two important things in show business.

Farhan Akhtar plays Vikram, a struggling actor, and the film follows him on his journey from industry outsider to insider as he plays all the games that it takes to succeed. Konkona Sen Sharma plays Sona, another struggling actor, who has made it to the bottom rungs but seems content to wait for “luck” to happen to her and their relationship is supposed to act as the emotional anchor to the film. Filling out the cast are Hrithik Roshan as star actor Zaffer Khan, Rishi Kapoor playing a producer with Juhi Chawla as his wife, and Dimple plays a former heroine who is trying to launch her not-too-bright daughter Isha Sharvani.

While I did enjoy Farhan and Konkona’s performances, those who know me know that I am not a fan of understated arthouse acting in general. One of the reasons I watch Hindi films (okay, Dimple?) is because I love the over-the-top emotion and melodrama. Much like in Rock On, I found Farhan to be a cipher most of the time. He doesn’t have that charisma that it takes to make a star, rather than an actor. Konkona was wonderfully emotive but her character was secondary to Farhan’s and I was unable to find a point-of-view in her. The emotional narrative of the film did not connect with me.

Zoya may not have intended it to be this way but I felt a real contrast between the amazing onscreen sparkle of Hrithik Roshan and the cryptic Farhan. I felt everything Hrithik did while Farhan provoked a more intellectual response – “Why did Vikram do that?” In fact, Farhan’s one effective emotional scene was watching him wait and squirm for an audition. The contrast is very much between an older style and a newer style of acting – and I prefer the older, which is why a lot of the “modern” Bollywood films like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na fall flat with me.

Besides Hrithik’s wonderful STAR character, the other standout was Dimple as the former heroine. Dimple Kapadia is still amazingly beautiful and she really draws your eye whenever she is onscreen. Watching her interact with Isha, playing her dim daughter, is hilarious! It’s a shame that there aren’t more roles for older actresses because Juhi Chawla was also quite good as the producer’s wife, as well. All the aunties in the film were wonderful!

The real fun of Luck by Chance is the behind-the-scenes tribute to Bollywood. One of my favorite sequences was a montage of Farhan learning the Hero’s required skill set – dancing, lip syncing, horseback riding, dishoom-dishoom, etc. all set to “Bachna Ae Haseeno”! And the film within a film Dil Ki Aag is a joy – and one I would definitely go and watch. Hrithik’s circus-inspired dance number “Baawre” alone is worth the price of the ticket. The inside jokes are a lot of fun and I can’t help but wish that Luck by Chance had been more like Rangeela, with a more Bollywood-style narrative, than Page 3. In fact, at times I wished I was watching Dil Ki Aag rather than the "realism" of Luck by Chance.

So, here is what I’m left with. I’ve always said that there is something that outsider actors have – a drive, a hunger for success – that makes them more engaging to watch. Maybe it’s because only the very talented (or lucky) make it – the mediocre acting jobs taken by star sons and Uday Chopra. Farhan’s future as an actor lies in arthouse films. He’s not Hero material. Isha is a wonderful dancer and somebody should start casting her in Helen-style cabaret numbers! Dimple needs more work.

And as for me, well, I think I’ll stick with Hrithik’s brand of Jadooo!


TadyLovesDaniel said...

ok guilty confession...My only reason at first for watching the film was to indulge in SRK's cameo...I loved it...and then after re watching I learned to appreciate it much more..I loved KoKo's acting in this film...I can't wait to see her in more films in the coming year..

E said...

I really loved this movie. Besides the satirical view, it seemed to me like it was trying to comment on what was happening to the industry, and how the old timers are dealing with all the new conventions influenced by the west.(The scene of Rishi sitting in with the producers who start calling the script "property", Hollywood-style, was so hilarious)

The only gripe I had about Farhan was that he looked way too old to play 24 years old. The entire cast was so charming and you're right, Dimple Kapadia was the BEST!!! She's my favorite character.

Filmi Girl said...

@Tady Yeah... I just didn't like this one - I don't think it holds up well to over-thinking, which I excel at. LOL!

@E I don't disagree that it was trying to comment on what was happening in the industry but it felt to me that Zoya was way too scattered in her execution for my tastes. Certain things worked - Dimple's story - and certain things didn't - Farhan.

It's not a bad film, but it's not a good one, either. And I really don't think it deserved all the accolades heaped upon it. Thankfully, audiences agreed with me and hopefully we won't be seeing many more like this.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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