Finally, the Diwali week got its due. Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion lives up to all the hype and hoola surrounding it. The film has all the tizzy masala of the fashion world and it combines it with it a story, couched with the right doses of reality and emotion. One wouldn't exactly call it an expose, because by now, even the layman has an idea of how the world of glamour works. So even though Bhandarkar adds his trademark touches by providing a kind of expose, the story of Fashion, moves beyond a mere expose on the world of models, ad agencies and fashion magazines, casting couches and wardrobe malfunctions. Like in his films before this, like say Corporate or Page 3, above and beyond the clichés is a very human story, which is what elevates Fashion. And for most part, the film's story is very well told indeed. Hence, all due credit should be given to the writers of the screenplay, the director himself, Anuradha Tiwari and Ajay Monga. What doesn't work for the film is its length beyond two and a half hours. The last half hour or so of the film just dragged a wee bit. The problem is not even so much the length, but the fact that it does nothing substantial for the film. The first half of the film is quite excellent, it is extremely well paced. One can't quite say the same for the second half.
Bhandarkar gets his homework all right. Everything is in place as it should be like stunning models, fashion shows, gorgeous clothes, the gay designers, doping, drinking, backstage drama etc, it has it all.
The one quality that has marked all of Bhandarkar's films is that he manages to tell his story quite well, whether you agree with him or not. He does not err this time as well as he tackles the story of three models: one an upcoming, ambitious struggling model, one is the reigning queen, soon to be dethroned, and the third, the one who did not quite make it to the top. The main story centres around Meghna (Priyanka Chopra), a girl from Chandigarh. She leaves her home and family and comes to the big bad city, fired by her ambition to make it big as a supermodel. Shonali (Kangana Ranaut) is the reigning queen on the ramp, whose is her own worst enemy. Her brittle life is shattered due to her own substance abuse and an abusive relationship. The third is Janet (Mugdha Godse), ambitious, but does not quite make it. She is the one who mentors Meghna, helping her with the right contacts and opportunities. Megha has a meteoric rise to the top but she pays for it dearly. The film follows the lives of these three girls for the most part and the people they meet, like Abhijeet Sareen (Arbaaz Khan), a media tycoon and the gay designer played by Harsh Chhaya.
Since the film is about fashion, the fashion shows are an inevitable part of the film's narrative. Madhur has shot those scenes superbly. The colour, the choreography, the models, everything has been superbly done. Full credit to cinematographer Mahesh Limaye and to the styling and designing undertaken for the film. The production design by Nitin Desai is also praiseworthy. He gives it just the right look. The production values of the film are really great. The film's music has been composed by Salim Sulaiman works well with the film's mood and tone. In fact Fashion, proves that Bhandarkar is getting better with every film that he makes. He shows a much more mature handling of emotions and drama than his earlier films.
And, now to come to the performances. The whole world of Fashion is brought alive only due to the stunning performances by the three divas Priyanka, Kangana and Mugdha. It is Priyanka's film all the way. She can put all the disappointment of her recent flops behind her with the kind of performance that she has delivered. It is an honest, uninhibited performance. She reveals a flair for dramatic histrionics in her breakdown scene, which is very well done. Matching her, maybe even outpowering her, is Kangana Ranaut as the Shonali. She has a smaller role, but she is quite the scene stealer. But the only hitch, is that she has played these on the edge characters a bit too often. The surprise package is Mugdha Godse. She has screen presence and a lot of vivacity which comes across. A confident show by her in her first outing.
Of the male actors, Arbaaz does a decent job and so does Arjan Bajwa. Harsh Chhaya reveals again what an underrated actor he is. Samir Soni pitches in with a good performance. The other actors like Suchitra Pillai, Kittu Gidwani, Raj Babbar and Kiran Juneja too essay their parts very well indeed.
Bhandarkar makes a film on the world of Fashion and does full justice to his subject matter. It can be argued that there is lot more that he could have done with the subject matter. But having decided on what he wants to portray, the director excels. Fashion talks about the world of fashion and manages to tell the story of its denizens in a realistic manner, which is at times moving, and at times, not so. But it is a story well told, supported by great production values and some feisty performances!