Tuesday, April 05, 2005


All the hoopla about Madhur Bhandarkar’s Page 3 reveals the bankruptcy of film criticism in our country. Else it would have been pointed out much earlier for what it actually is—an intolerably hypocritical look at the morally bankrupt world of the socialites who people the parties of glitzy Mumbai. Posing as an exposé, it teases the audience with anecdotes from the seamier side of their lives.

I was reminded of the work of filmmakers like Ed Wood whose intention in making films on ‘serious issues’ like crime, perversion, et al is to revel in the portrayal of those very things. In such films there is a kind of complicity between the filmmaker and his audience in that both the production and consumption of the ‘social tract’ is assumed a worthy enterprise. All this may sound like a puritanical rant, but it’s just that I can’t stand the pretence. Pornography pretending to be nothing else—I have no quarrel against that. Just don’t call it art.

So the substance of the film is irretrievably compromised by the filmmaker’s dubious intentions (aided by the fact that the subject is a matter of too easy ridicule and satire). What can you say about a film in which the best, or most interesting, parts are the clichés—eg, the dilemmas of an honest police officer? What about the style? This could have been one of those films that is all style and no substance. But the filmmaking is amateurish and lacks polish. Just see how badly the look of the film compares with its own publicity posters.

Nevertheless, a lot of people seem to think that any Hindi film without the usual song and dance routines is a masterpiece. Ajit Duara wrote in The Hindu that we may be proud that a film like this can be made in our country. Admittedly, he called it a flawed work and was referring to the filmmaker’s courage in tackling the issues he did. What courage? To miss a few parties? He must have thrown one to celebrate the success of his new film.