Starring Tabu, Atul Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav, Annanya Khare
Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar
Background score Raju Singh
Realistic themes are something that not much directors would like to experiment with. In Bollywood, the industry of music, dance and masti...realism is forced to take a backseat. And then the parallel cinema, or the "art" cinema do come up with such movies, but most of them end up to be simply boring except for a few of them that manage to show the occasional glimpses of quality.
But over the years the line between the commercial and parallel cinema is certainly getting thinner. The late nineties see a lot of new independent film makers trying to experiment and come up with movies that touch realism as much as possible while they narrate a story in a way that the average audience would like to see it as.
So director Madhur Bhandarkar's idea of CHANDNI BAR takes form and comes as yet another one of those laudable efforts in making such kind of bold and unconventional cinema.
The movie takes a look at the life of the dancers at the local mumbai bars. There certainly are many who are into the business, and are forced to dance their way through the night, entertaining the drunk lustful clients just in the name of survival.
And the movie follows the life of Mumtaz (Tabu), who lands in the big bad city of Mumbai after losing her family and home in a 85' riot. And once in the city, her uncle takes advantage of her, and forces her to be a dancer at the bar.
Thus starts the pitiful life of Mumtaz, who eventually gets raped by her own uncle. And she has to spend her nights in the bar. As time moves on, she meets an underworld figure Potya, and married him. And so she finally quits her job as a dancer at the Bar and goes on to live a happy married life, with her two kids Abhay and Payal. And as their kids grow, Mumtaz tries her best to give her children a better life so that they do not follow the fate of their parents.
But things just take another bad turn with her husband getting killed in one of the gang wars.
Is it the end of Mumtaz' misery or is just the beginning?
WHERE THINGS WENT WRONG
The real problem with the movie is that it is very dark and depressing from the word 'go'. There are no light scenes to complement the dark theme.
Secondly, there are no songs either. So the whole narration tends to get rather stretched and loses grip at times. Narration takes an inconsistent pace.
Most of the characters fail to touch your heart. Barring the character of Tabu, the rest of the characters have nothing that really makes the audience feel for it. On the contrary, the well-defined characters was one of the major highlights of a movie like SATYA.
Then the problem of getting the audiences to the halls. No songs, no stars... and the movie is also released in a few halls, so not many are even gonna take the effort to check it out. If the movie did get into some kind of controversy, then it would have been a different story altogether.
WHERE THINGS WENT RIGHT
Kudos for the team for daring to touch on a topic such as this without trying to fit into your routine Bollywood masalas.
Tabu once again does a fabulous job in her lead role as Mumtaz. After her powerful role in ASTITVA last year, here is another one that Tabu can be proud of.
Atul Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav, Annanya Khare, Vallabh Vyas all put in their best of efforts in their supporting roles.
The most important scenes of the movie, are all handled well and there is nothing laughable about them in any way. The impact is there wherever there ought to be one.
Might not be dedicated to fighting the cause of women like LAJJA, but still comes strongly in giving a picture of the torture they have to go through in the hands of men. Dialogues are strong and noteworthy.
Wonderful execution of light, sets and music to illustrate the changing times as we see Mumtaz' story from 1985 all the way to 2000.
Obviously the movie is made on a shoe-string budget with absolutely no big names except for Tabu. So even if the movie does average business, it is definitely big bonus for most distributors.
Good work by Raju Singh in the background score department.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Tabu is simply fascinating and is the major plus factor of the movie. And taking the bold theme it handled, it is a rather well-made movie. However the narration isn't as strong as say, ASTITVA nor is all this hard-hit realism as audience friendly as SATYA.
So breaking all the norms of Bollywood cinema as we know it, the going for the movie isn't gonna be anything smooth. But the truth is that it deserves a bigger audience than what the dumber movies like AJNABEE and MUJHE KUCCH KEHNA HAI end up with.