Movies like Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (LCMD) make my blood boil. Well, one could say I had it coming. I mean, what else can one expect from mainstream Bollywood? (Spoiler alert) A 'fallen' woman still stays a 'sati savitri' because she only sells her body, not her soul. And how does she find redemption? By being 'rescued' back into respectability by a man generous enough to look into her 'soul' because she chants the Hanuman Chalisa in an air pocket. Why can't she do something on her own with all that money other than buying designer clothing and Vertu phones, damn it? What made me grit my teethin particular was the repeated refrain about the daughter becoming a son!
I went because the trailer intrigued me enough to suppose that this movie would aspire to be slightly different from mainstream Bollywood fare. That, and Rani Mukerji. Instead, I got a Karan Johar-ised (read sugar coated, gloss-over-inconveniet-spot-ted) potboiler. Actually, its worse. This a throwback to archaic concepts of pavitrata and sanctity of womanhood from the 17th century. I remember watching an old Tamil movie starring Rajnikanth (don't remember the name) and Sarita. Sarita plays a street worker who struggles to make ends meet even as she conducts a bittersweet love affair with Rajnikanth - a gritty and edgy movie way ahead of its times compared to duds like LCMD. I guess they made better movies back then - Varumayin Niram Sivappu is a particular favourite. But then I digress.
I've liked Rani Mukherji as an actress, but here she is hampered by the weak characterization and script. Her Vibha/ Natasha fails to connect despite those liquid brown eyes filling up with unshed tears at the appropriate moments. Still, Rani has her moments, especially when she puts on a brave big sister act for Subhi (Konkana Sen Sharma). Jaya Bachchan plays a typical small town mother with the worry of making ends meet constantly hanging over her head and she draws some sympathy here. If the grapevine were to be believed, she really didn't have to try to hard to act as the mother who tries to keep the 'scarred' daughter away. Konkana Sen Sharma - though its great that you have managed to keep in step with the jhatkas and matkas of Bollywood, please try and do something different. I have seen you in this role a million times already. As for Abhishek Bachchan, the less said the better!
That said, the movie does have some merits. The cinematography (who did it?) is excellent. I've always wanted to visit Benares, one of the oldest cities in the world, and now I simply must go! Shantanu Moitra's score is different from the normal fare, not bad.
Verdict - Watching this movie put a daag on my friday evening!