by Taran Adarsh | Posted Oct 12, 2007It's like traveling back home. You know the route, you know the signal, you know the lane, you know the speed breaker and you know the destination.
That's applicable for LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG too. 10 minutes into the film and you know what the story is, you can even guess the twists and turns the story may take and you can [successfully] read what the climax would be. Predictability -- that bogs LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG down.
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Sure, it isn't blasphemous if a new product bears a striking similarity to themes that have been translated on celluloid several times in the past. But the grip -- so vital in a film that has a story to tell -- is clearly missing here.
LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG appeals in bits and spurts. It's well shot and is backed by striking performances, but the graph of the film lacks uniformity. It holds your attention, then it doesn't.
To sum up, LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG fails because of its writing. It has an oft-repeated theme and coupled with inept writing, the chances are very dim!
Badki [Rani Mukerji] and Chutki [Konkona Sen Sharma] live a fun-filled life in Banaras, playing pranks, sneaking off to see a forbidden mujra [Hema Malini, in a special appearance] and soaking up all the excitement that goes on the ghats of the Ganga. Badki is aware that the family is in dire straits, but she and her mother [Jaya Bachchan] protect Chutki at all costs.
When things get worse, Badki decides to go to Mumbai and seek a living for the family. Alone and unsupported in the midst of the urban jungle of Mumbai, Badki battles with dark forces, keeping her focus on her purpose to support her family and continue Chutki's education. She deliberately morphs into someone else, leading a secret life full of murky compromises.
When Chutki comes to Mumbai to work, things take a dramatic turn. Badki's life turns into a minefield, as she has to hide her secrets from Chutki. Chutki finds success at work and love that delights her heart. Badki finds the magic of love, but lets it slip away before it can blossom, as she believes it's not in her destiny. She battles menace and blackmail alone, not letting these dark shadows fall on Chutki or her family.
But her dual life is revealed and the two sisters are face to face, in a confrontation neither had expected. And when love beckons Badki again, the whole family is thrown in a tumultuous storm. Everything threatens to explode in their faces, destroying all of them.
LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG has a promising start. Portions depicting the financial difficulties plauging a family are convincingly depicted. Everything's in control till Rani decides to become an escort. The question here is, when Suchitra Pillai is giving Rani a makeover, why does she encourage her to become a high class hooker? Why not a model? Or why doesn't she goad her to hone her skills [learn English, computers et al, since those are the reasons why Rani is refused job after job]? Why encourage her to be someone when the pure soul is just not convinced about? Why? Doesn't it send out wrong signals to people who face roadblocks in life? Is that [prostitution] the only alternate profession you can take to in crisis?
The film dips further when Rani, now a polished, angrezi-speaking mem, meets Abhishek in an aircraft and the [one-sided] prem kahani begins. And then the treacherous cousin [Sushant Singh] arrives in Mumbai, blackmailing her. Hello, how did he, sitting in Benaras, know Rani's 'rate for a night' and her 'profession'. No explanations are offered!
The second hour is interesting in parts. The sequence when Konkona catches Rani red-handed is excellent. Also noteworthy are the portions when the two sisters return to Benaras. Things start looking up, but, suddenly, Abhishek re-emerges on the scene and the Abhishek - Rani prem katha re-ignites. Nahin, maza nahin aaya. Also, the treacherous jodi of Tinnu Anand and Sushant Singh comes back, but this track looks forced. The duo is used as mere props.
Pradeep Sarkar knows how to make the frames look beautiful, but how one wishes he would've opted for an absorbing story and most importantly, stuck to the principal characters, instead of adding sub-plots [romance, songs, relatives]. Cinematography is splendid. Dialogues deserve special mention. Shantanu Moitra's music is a mixed bag. 'Hum To Aise Hain Bhaiya' is the best of the lot.
Rani excels yet again. It's a pleasure watching her in an author-backed role yet again. Konkona is fantastic. In fact, she lends a lot of freshness to her character. Jaya Bachchan is superb. Her work is truly admirable. Abhishek Bachchan's extended special appearance makes no impact. Kunal Kapoor is likable. Anupam Kher is alright. Tinnu Anand and Sushant Singh suffer due to ill-defined roles. Kamini Kaushal, Murli Sharma, Harsh Chhaya, Tarana, Suchitra Pillai and Ninad Kamat enact their parts well.
On the whole, LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG stands on a shaky script and has all chances of slipping, not consolidating its position. At the box-office, given the inconsistent content on one hand and the poor opening on the other, the film will prove a major setback.