Over half way done! Page 5 of 8 pages of notes. And this has the one moment that makes me think “wow, Dimple! That cuts a little close to the bone!” (full index of Luck By Chance coverage here)
First Note! “Making fun of theater style acting, just another style”
This is the section where our two halves, the story of Hrithik and Rishi and Juhi and Dimple putting together a movie, and Farhan struggling to get a break with the help of Konkona, start to come together. And it begins by clarifying what Farhan does not want to be and is not. And that is, a theater actor.
What I love about this sequence is that it is so cheerfully disrespectful to a particular kind of theater acting. The heartfelt stripped down social message kind, in outdoor theaters with a scattered audience making big faces as though they are thinking big thoughts. And meanwhile, there are Konkona and Farhan trying not to laugh. Just as they would try not to laugh at a silly performance in a film.
Theater acting isn’t essentially “better” than film acting, although that is almost what Farhan’s friend argues later that night, it is just different. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Farhan’s friend is correct that Farhan could never make it in that kind of a play, but that doesn’t mean he is talent less or can’t act. He throws that in Farhan’s face later that night, that he is Acting in stage plays and has TV parts and Farhan hasn’t gotten anything yet, that Farhan should just give up.
And Farhan, sincerely I think, breaks down after that. Because he can sense the truth of it, he can’t do this kind of acting. But he also senses the truth when Konkona comforts him, that there is another kind of acting he can do.
Next Note “Viviek, Abhishek (dad says “hi”), John, Ranbir, Akshaye”
And now we go back to the other story, but with a hint of where it will end. Farhan has headshots now, we saw that in the last scene, and Konkona has reminded him of what he really wants. And here is Rishi, trying to scrape up another star for his film.
Fascinating the variety of “nos” he gets! Viviek says he wants to do something commercial, John says he wants to do something artistic, there are date issues, all kinds of reasons. No one gives an out and out “no”, because that would be disrespectful and also foolish, to burn your bridges with Rishi that way. And I love the little “dad says ‘hi'” that Abhishek throws in. Not to mention the meta-ness of Ranbir pretending to take a meeting with a producer who is played by his own father. If you want to get really meta, this early in Ranbir’s career he wasn’t actually taking these meetings, his Dad was taking them for him because he was better able to give that “no” without burning bridges.
The “Dad says ‘hi'” I found interesting because this whoooooooooole movie we have star kids playing themselves. Akshaye doesn’t mention his Dad, Kareena doesn’t mention her parents, but Abhishek, you HAVE to mention Amitabh when you see Abhishek. He’s just too big not to. The same thing happened when I saw Abhishek live, he came out and one of the first things he said was about his father (massive screaming standing ovation in response, you know you are a star when the mere mention of your name brings people to their feet).
Next note “Corporate types still want star”
Remember how two sections ago I talked about the intelligent way this film lambasts corporate types, which makes sense since Farhan and Zoya have made a career of making millions of these idiots? This is more of that. At the first meeting, Rishi arrived ready to talk stars, and they were all serious about the “property” meaning the script.
Now, Rishi is there to talk to them about the whole project, they still have a story, publicity, the start of shooting, and Isha (Dimple’s daughter). But when it gets down to it, the corporate types are not interested unless there is a star attached. Not only that, they are moving forward with Alyy’s little artsy movie just because John Abraham is attached it it, even though it has nothing else.
Like I said, idiots! Yes, the simple version of Indian film industry is “it’s all about the Stars!!!” But the longer version is, “it’s all about the people who know how to use stars which sometimes includes the stars themselves”. That is, if you have Hrithik in a movie produced by Rishi, then you’ve got something. If you have John in a movie produced by hanger on big talker Alyy, then you’ve got nothing. If you’ve still got Rishi, and the unspoken Juhi and Dimple in the background behind him, then you’ve still got a little something. But the corporate types don’t see that. They just see Rishi with no star, not all the invisible cords that have tied Rishi into the industry in a way that Alyy will never achieve.
Next note “Boman Irani = SUNNY!!!!! financed Twinkle’s film”
SO EXCITING!!! The only time in the film that Dimple really tips her hand. Very cheeky. But before getting into that, remember how I said the corporate types don’t see the big picture? This is the big picture. They say Rishi doesn’t have a “Star”, but he does, he has Dimple. She isn’t in the movie, she isn’t even officially in the credits. Her name won’t directly bring in the audience. But she’s got all the knowledge and power and connections of a star and she is bringing them all to bear. That’s why Rishi cast her daughter, because the mother comes along with her. Both as herself and, as we will see later, the training she forces on her daughter. And so Dimple is not going to let this launch film die, she has brought in an “old friend” as a silent investor, giving her official producer credit, which really changes nothing as she was already co-producing. Just like Juhi, also not listed in the credits.
But that’s not the exciting part! The exciting part is that, in “reality”, Twinkle’s launch was funded by Dharmendra. That is, the Deol family. That is, her mother’s “good friend” Sunny Deol. It’s not a direct line, but it is pretty darn scary close to this!
(Wow, this is ridiculously bad. I can’t believe either of them went on to have a career after this!)
Next note “Mahesh’s wife? Juhi kitty party, Bobby & Sunny mention”
And once again, Rishi has his connections that cannot be discounted. Juhi isn’t part of his company, officially, but she is a vital element that everyone who really knows things, knows is important. And here she is working it, at her kitty party with fellow producer/star wives, including maybe Mahesh’s wife? I feel like I recognize her. The point is, these are powerful powerful ladies and business is being done over this card table, bigger business than what happens in the corporate halls.
Oh, and Bobby and Sunny are both mentioned as possible heroes for the film, but they aren’t available. Which is either a clever nod to the almost-Barsaat mention two scenes back, or an attempt to distract us by bringing up the Deols in a different context, or just a coincidence.
Next note “‘New Girl’=never been in anything”
Oh right, PLOT! Konkona and Farhan are no officially together, they spent the night together, and everything is going her way! The film she has been waiting on, the one Alyy has been promising her for years, is finally going to start filming. She is going to have her breakthrough role, she has a great boyfriend, it’s all wonderful. And then she happily goes to meet Alyy who not terribly gently breaks it to her that she is out of the film, they want a “new girl”.
And once again, Konkona is both right and wrong here. She is right when she says that she had to take roles to make money, and that Alyy told her it would be all right for her to take those parts in smaller flop films. And they all flopped, no one saw them. So how can he take away what she has been counting on?
But on the other hand, Alyy is “right” too. As in, yeah, Konkona was a fool and shouldn’t have taken those parts. An actress has a limited shelf life, you either shoot for the stars and gamble, or you settle and be happy for the work. But you don’t try to mix the two. Alyy gave her bad advice, but I bet there were people in her life giving her good advice (we will see some of them later), and she didn’t listen to them.
(One more Boom, and Katrina’s career would have been over before it began)
And Konkona still doesn’t grab her chance when Sheeba shows up. She is still, at heart, too naive to realize that this is her chance to blackmail Alyy with a threat of revealing their affair to his wife. And so instead she hands over photos of Farhan to Sheeba and Alyy saying they are her cousin who is looking for work.
Shahrukh story time!!! I hate to keep bringing him up, it’s not because I love him (well, not directly), it’s just because I know the most about his rise to stardom so his examples are on the tip of my tongue. In Karan’s autobiography, he talks about the first time he met Shahrukh, which Shahrukh didn’t even know about. He was in the waiting room of a TV producer as a teenager, and he saw this very handsome young man doing a crossword for ages, until the secretary finally came out and said that the producer wouldn’t be able to see him today, sorry for making him wait for so long. Shahrukh casually said that was all right, just wanted to tell him in person that he wouldn’t be taking the TV role, he was going to be a movie star. And after he left, the secretary laughed at this fool for turning down a great TV part.
But see, that’s what you have to do. You have to be smart enough to have that internal timer which goes off when you are about to cross the line from “actor on the way up” to “has been”. And you have to be brave enough to take the leap at that moment. And, ideally, to take that leap without burning any bridges behind you, just in case.
Or you have to be wise enough to know you have missed your time, and just be grateful for what you have. But Konkona isn’t there yet.