Fashion The Movie

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Tagline: In the world of fashion, you will have to give up more than just your morals
Bollywood and the Indian fashion industry have been buzzing for months about Madhur Bhandarkar's film Fashion. Everyone expected an expose of stark proportions, seeing that this was by the same director who made films like Chandni Bar, Page 3 and Corporate. But Fashion disappoints one to no end.

A tale of a small town girl trying to get a break into the big, bad yet glamorous world of modelling may be clichéd but sounds interesting at first, given that it's about the fashion industry next door to us.

In Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion however, it's a story that is warped beyond belief. Meghna (Priyanka), originally from Chandigarh, dreams about making it big in Mumbai as a supermodel and leaves home despite her father's objections. She takes off with the confidence of having won a local beauty contest with a badly shot portfolio in tow, an atrocious accent and a figure that is nowhere near supermodel-esque.

However, once in Mumbai she realizes that she can't cut it in the super competitive fashion capital, and needs to resort to gigs like lingerie shoots to make money or being paid to show up at a high flying party.

Meghna's partners in this journey are Janet (Mughda), a struggling model who has already learned the ropes of the industry but hasn't gotten her big break, Maanav (Arjan), a male model who doesn't want to succumb to the male casting couch, and Rohit (Ashwin Mushran), a coordinator who works with top designer Vinay Khosla and wants to help Meghna.

To add to that already confusing mix, the modelling world is ruled by Shonali (Kangana), an erratic, drugged out (yet another stereotyped role for Kangana Ranaut) model but is a force to reckon with on the ramp. Shonali also finds time between scavenging for drugs to be the face of Panache, a chain of brand stores, which is headed by the powerful Abhijit Sarin (Arbaaz Khan).

And throw in a bunch of references to actual fashion industry - designers who like using Bollywood actresses for their show finales, gay designers, wardrobe malfunctions, rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags stories and (what was an actually brilliant scene) buying clothes from Thailand and putting them on the ramp under a designer's name.

So how does Meghna achieve her overambitious dream of instantly becoming a supermodel? That's a question that we would have loved to see answered through this film - but Bhandarkar portrays becoming a supermodel as incredibly easy. Meghna gets her first ramp gig as soon as she has a portfolio shoot by a top-notch photographer, and miraculously knows how to work the ramp.

She also lands Manav as a boyfriend and moves in with him. But then Abhijit notices Meghna and everything changes - she replaces Shonali as the face of Panache, is the headliner model for every fashion show, instantly puts on supermodel airs (her accent becomes somewhat normal as well) and gets signed up by the biggest modelling agency in town.

Cue then for the clichés: Meghna becomes too big for her own designer boots and dumps Manav, sleeps with Abhijit and gets into full gear diva mode. All of this happens within the span of thirty minutes. Also cue for the other inevitable cliché: Shonali has an ultimate meltdown, themed to lots of scenes of her snorting coke. But the film, can obviously not be, the story of the 'rise and rise of Meghna'.

She ultimately crashes and burns (drugs, drinking, sleeping your way to the top, an abortion et al take their toll) - and goes back to Chandigarh where what one had presumed was her unforgiving father welcomes her back with open arms. The film's storyline hits another descent when her father, who had always opposed her profession, advises her to go back to Mumbai and pursue her unfulfilled dream.

She does make her return to the modelling world, but that's probably the most forgettable part of the film (yet one has to watch it to see the film till the end).

The acting teeters between atrocious and passable. Kangana, while playing the role of the crazed drug addict diva to the hilt, has been stereotyped in this role one too many times (such as in Woh Lamhey and Gangster), Priyanka doesn't look like a model - forget supermodel - from any angle: and even though she has some good moments in her diva phase, she looked far better in Don and looks gorgeous in the upcoming Dostana.

The highlight is Mughda, who in her role as Janet, looks like a natural with her warm-hearted nature and brash exterior, or Arbaaz and Kitu Gidwani as the calculated fashion Mafiosos.

Fashion could have been a great film. But the weak and clichéd storyline only reinforces ugly stereotypes of the fashion industry. There were so many topics it could have touched on: the male casting couch, eating disorders, model cliques and backstage drama, or an actual insight into how the industry works.

The soundtrack is absolutely uninspiring, and songs are used as the background score for runway shows, in a 'kill two birds with one stone' attempt but these are just a couple of gaping holes in the fabric of Fashion - the whole film is a collection of thoughts and ideas grasped from various fashion news items and fused together with a dose of OTT drama and ugly clichés. One expects better work from Bhandarkar - and while the film is worth a watch just to allay one's piqued curiosity, Fashion is a movie malfunction at best.

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