Oh boy, second page of notes! I’m excited! And also some stuff I forgot to take notes on that I will just throw in there somehow. (index of Luck By Chance coverage here)
Okay, I left off the last section with the Mac Mohan cameo as the guest speaker at Farhan’s school.
I feel like I should do some plotty stuff to situate these notes. We’ve started with Konkona, but then switched from her to Farhan, and back, and forth, and back, and forth. And now, finally, they are meeting! And we get a little background filled in on Farhan. He is hanging out at the tiny apartment of his friend who is a working actor, and his friend’s friend, who seems to be an AD at Bhatt films. And Farhan lives in Bandra, with his aunt, and his father sends him an allowance from Delhi. Very different from the other two.
And even more different from Konkona, their neighbor, who seems all cool and sophisticated when she stops by to say “hi” and casually mentions that her big break film that she has been waiting for since she arrived in Bombay is maybe about to start filming. You can see Farhan is impressed, and the other two also have varying degrees of crushes on her, because she is crushable. Intelligent and casual and experienced and all of that.
But what we saw of her already, the film audience, is putting cracks in that. And shows that other people see the cracks too. After she mentioned to her fellow extras that she only took the role because she was promised a scene with Aamir and that “her” movie would be coming out soon, she walked away and the other two women rolled their eyes at how she is deluding herself and putting on airs. Maybe to young men with crushes on her, she seems cool, but to her fellow industry workers, she is just another young woman who hasn’t grown up yet.
Okay, notes! “Mahesh ji”
This is what Farhan’s friend of a friend casually throws into the discussion. It’s so perfect, he is showing off by dropping Mahesh Bhatt’s name, but he even so he is still scared to be disrespectful, he throws the “ji” on there. And Bhatt films is such a perfect studio to reference. Artistic for the faux-artist Farhan wants to be, but also cheap and small enough that you could believe an AD there is hanging out with these nobodies who haven’t made it.
Next note: “failed actor becomes director, Sanjay Kapoor, Rishi, Dimple”
This is really just one of many parts of this scene. Konkona goes back to her apartment after saying hi to Farhan and the others and turns on her TV to the entertainment news channel. To see the announcement that a failed actor turned director is getting his first movie produced by his older brother, a successful producer, and it is starring Hrithik Roshan, big star who is loyal to the successful producer, and Isha, daughter of Dimple, in her first movie. Who says “I never expected to act, but then they asked me, and I thought ‘why not?'”
SO MUCH HERE! First, let’s look at casting. Sanjay Kapoor plays the failed actor turned director. Sanjay being the youngest Kapoor brother, after Boney (successful producer) and Anil (successful producer and actor). Sanjay was briefly a big star in 1995, mostly thanks to Raja co-starring Madhuri (the Kapoor family has a long long history with Madhuri, helped groom her to stardom back in the Parinda/Tezaab days, she owes them). And then it kind of went away as fast as it came. He took progressively smaller roles and turned producer for the first time in 2009, the same year this came out. So, they cast a failed actor who has powerful successful indulgent older brothers to play a failed actor with a powerful successful indulgent older brother. Only, Sanjay never turned to directing and hadn’t yet even started producing, so it was just slightly far enough off not to be obvious.
(Madhuri! Your costume! It burns my eyeballs!!!!)
Rishi plays Sanjay’s older successful brother. We are going to get a lot of Rishi in this film, so I will have more to say. But for now, I will just point out how perfect the casting is since Rishi is both part of one of those large old-school producing/acting families, and also distinctly not like this producer. Rishi, and all the Kapoors just by being Kapoors, in real life are part of that “floating above it like Gods” group. They work hard, they do their best, but they don’t have that desperate fire in their bellies like the others. They don’t have to have a fire, just by virtue of their last name, they will always have respect, and a place in the industry (literally a place, the massive RK Studios lot). But this producer that Rishi is playing, he is trying hard to maintain his position, he clearly isn’t “old” industry, not the classy upper level, but he is “old-school”. Oh, and also, they could have easily cast one of his real life brothers to play the failed actor/director, but it’s a nice touch to have Sanjay play not-quite-himself (failed actor but not director) and Rishi also play not-quite-himself (successful actor, not producer, who is carrying his less successful brothers).
And then there’s Dimple. Isha’s mother. Who is playing, essentially, herself. A viciously ambitious star mother, who is still gorgeous and popular and in demand as a star herself. Only with one big difference, in real life her daughter was launched years earlier, had a so-so career, quit, and then became hilariously vocal about how terrible she was as an actress. So Dimple is basically the only star mother around who could be cast in this film without worrying about accidentally reflecting on her daughter. Since Twinkle is the first person to speak up about how ridiculous it was for her to try to be an actress. Hema Malini, for instance, couldn’t play this role. Oh, and there is another layer to it later, since Dimple’s daughter is also one of the few actresses who is completely upfront and unashamed about her onset fling (partly because it turned into a marriage that had lasted almost a decade at the time this film came out)
(Love Twinkle. And there will be many many more parelals as this movie goes on)
Okay, that’s all the information we are getting from the TV show, the one final thing is Konkona’s reaction. She makes fun of Isha’s innocent little “and I thought, ‘why not?'” in kind of a bitter way. And we can fill in the blanks, here is this woman who has worked and dreamed and sacrificed for years to be the best actress she can, and here is this baby faced teenager accepting her big break with an attitude of “why not?” and no sense of what it really means.
In the moment, we sympathize with Konkona. But by the end of the film, we will learn how wrong she is. No one can know anyone else’s journey. Just because Isha gives a stupid comment in an interview doesn’t mean she hasn’t suffered, in her own way, just as much as Konkona. More importantly, no one “earns” a big break. It comes or it doesn’t. It’s “luck”, that’s all. And Isha getting this chance isn’t the reason Konkona isn’t getting it, the world doesn’t balance that way.
Next Note! “Juhi-Rishi”
Did you know there is a rumor that Rishi and Juhi had an affair? I generally don’t believe it, because I just think she could have done much much better. Even in the realm of older married actors, Jackie Shroff is right there! But the reason it was a rumor was because they had such great chemistry on and off screen. And boy does this movie highlight that! Juhi is in some ways his trophy wife, dolled up with over the top make-up and tiny dresses. But she is also older, not some young thing, but someone who is his real partner and has been with him through his journey (in a nice touch, later we will see a much much younger photo of Juhi on his desk, showing that they have been married a long time and when he looks at her, he still sees that young girl). And they way they interact, they are partners. She takes him to her astrologer, he makes fun of it but he does it. And when he feels down and depressed about himself, she reaches out and takes his hand and builds him up again. Forget all the young people, this is the real romance of the film, the real love story.
(See? She could SO have done better)
Next Note! “Hrithik Shooting with Mani Ratnam”
This is a throw away comment, but it is such a perfect note to toss in. Because it tells us everything we need to know about where Hrithik’s character is in his career. He started out with Rishi’s experienced by never really big big time production house. He still makes movies with him, but he is now a big star, recognized everywhere. And he is shooting with Mani Ratnam, that’s the next step on the star ladder, to go from the stupid successful films, to the smart artsy but still successful films, and then finally to be called up to the top (which we will see in a bit).
Next Note! “Highlight to Highlight”
This is Sanjay/Rishi’s explanation of how a film should go. Their directions to the screenwriter. And it is completely accurate! That’s how Indian films are traditionally structured. If you want to get fancy, you say it is “the Navarasa theory of dramatic narrative”. But “Highlight to Highlight” works too. You want to throw in emotion after emotion, each separate and each at their highest peak. You don’t want to mix the flavors and make it all bland. Think tossed salad, not stewed peas.
Next Note! “Sssshhhh, Baazigar, dead sister nightclub”
The plot of the movie they are discussing is Baazigar, right? The argument is over whether it makes sense to shoot this song right after the heroine’s sister is killed and she has learned her boyfriend may be implicated. That’s why they say “highlight to highlight”, put in the song right after the big emotional scene, no problem. And Baazigar will be explicitly mentioned much much later.
(This song has always kind of bothered me. I mean, her sister JUST died! Even if she didn’t know Shahrukh was the one who killed her, it’s still weird to go out on a date!)
But I am fascinated by the choice to use Baazigar for this film! Kajol was a star daughter, Shahrukh was an unknown taking a risky role after everyone else turned it down. But Kajol was phenomenally talented (as we all know), not just a naive baby. And Shahrukh wasn’t quite the vicious backstabber that Farhan’s character turns out to be after he gets this part.
The other comparison I kept thinking of was Ssssshhhh. Which I mostly know about because that soundtrack is GREAT. But it’s another movie with a dead sister/suspicious boyfriend plot. And a star daughter in the lead, Kajol’s little sister Tanisha. A star daughter who really needed all that backing from her family to get a break, and who wasn’t that talented. And an outsider hero, Dino Morea, who also kind of went no where.
(See??? Great songs!)
I don’t know if the Zoya was thinking of Sssshhh at all, or just Baazigar. But it’s interesting to think about. Sometimes films are Baazigars, surprise hits that prove a star kid really has talent and give an outsider their break. And sometimes these films with the exact same ingredients just go no where, for no reason.
Final note! Of page 2! “Dimple old-fashioned, black dot, nicer costumes, touch feet, Gucci”
This is our first big intro scene for Dimple, and it is super good. She is sitting there wearing what she tends to wear in real life, classy and classic scarves and loose Salwar-Kameez type outfits. And she is watching Isha, her daughter, be made-up and dressed in a skimpy little dress. While approving of this very modern western sexy look, she also tells the make-up artist to make sure to put on a black dot, to protect her from the evil eye.
Rishi arrives, Dimple immediately starts telling him her daughter needs better costumes. And at the same time, ordering Isha to touch his feet. And drops the word “Gucci”. She wants the best of both worlds. She wants to order around this producer because he is afraid of her, and she wants to maintain the pretense that her daughter respects him by touching his feet. She wants Indian values in Gucci clothes.
And she gets them! That’s why she picked Rishi to produce this launch, and that’s why Rishi puts up with her. For the “Indian values”, there is this great moment when Isha tries to tug on her dress to figure out a way to maintain modesty while bending over. Sure, that’s funny, but what I really noticed was that Rishi stopped her and was sympathetic with her struggle, but in no way implied that he was looking down her dress or up her skirt or even interested in maybe thinking of taking advantage of this situation. He is “safe”. He loves his wife, and he truly does see Isha as just a little girl he is giving a launch to, nothing else. That’s the real “Indian value”.
And then there’s the Gucci. Dimple wants her daughter to have the fancy outfits and glitz and glamour, and lots of it. She could have picked a classy director of some art film, but she didn’t want that. She wanted nice safe Rishi, who would give her daughter the spectacular launch best designed to help her get started and make an impression.
And that’s it for page 2!!! Come back at some point for page 3-4-5-6-7-8.