Friday, September 25, 2015


Release date:
September 25, 2015
Madhur Bhandarkar

Akanksha Puri, Avani Modi, Kyra Dutt, Ruhi Singh, Satarupa Pyne, Madhur Bhandarkar

It feels sad to write this review. Was this film really made by the man who gave us Chandni Bar, Page 3, Corporate and Fashion?

No doubt the concept of writer-director-producer Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls is worth expanding into a full-fledged film. This, however, is not that film. This story has a been-there-seen-that feel to it – a whiff of Page 3, a dash of Corporate, a sprinkling of Fashion all chucked into poorly fleshed out scenarios. No new insights. No new perspective. And plain tacky.

If good writing is the cornerstone of a good film, then Calendar Girls is on the verge of collapse from its opening scene. The dialogues are of embarrassingly bad quality, most are heavy-handed, many mix Hindi with awkwardly handled English, and too many try too hard to sound clever.

The over-smartness is irritating. Such as when a photographer tells a bunch of models: Each of you must do something for me now that every model has to do for me the night before a shoot. Cut to the girls, all taken aback at what they assume – as we are no doubt expected to assume too – is a blatant request for sex. The music changes to reflect their fears. Grim silence follows, during which I could picture the writer visualising viewers thinking, “Oh, he wants to sleep with them.” At last the lensman speaks up, asking an offensive but different question. Dan ta tan!

Combine this mediocre writing with lousy casting and what you get is a non-starter, not a film.

Were Calendar Girls’ five female leads really picked by the man whose heroines so far have included Tabu, Konkona Sensharma, Priyanka Chopra and Bipasha Basu?

Here we get Akanksha Puri as aspiring model Nandita Menon from Hyderabad, Avani Modi as London-based Pakistani girl Nazneen Malik, Kyra Dutt in the role of Sharon Pinto from Goa, Ruhi Singh as Mayuri Chauhan from Rohtak and Satarupa Pyne as Paroma Ghosh from Kolkata. The five do not have as much charisma collectively as Tabu, Konkona, Priyanka or Bipasha possess in one little toe. Avani in particular cannot act and her personality is completely unsuited to the itsy-bitsy Westernwear that is the ladies’ wardrobe almost throughout the film.

Kyra and Satarupa hold out some hope. Kyra acts better than the others, but she either gained weight half way through the film or is poorly served by the clothes and camera – I can’t be sure which. Satarupa fits the glamour girl mould better than the rest, but needs to work on her acting. All five – especially Akanksha, Avani and Satarupa – suffer greatly from the combined assault of over-done make-up and poor lighting that highlights rather than camouflages their pancake.

The story is about five women from diverse backgrounds selected to feature in a high-profile, high-glam corporate calendar, clearly drawing on Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Calendar. This is their big break. The film is about the hurdles they face in tinseltown and how they get past them.

The point being made by Calendar Girls is this: that though films and modelling are life-suckingly challenging, you don’t necessarily have to sleep around to make it as is assumed by the public. Now if only this point was being made in a more polished, less exploitative film.

Madhur’s last two ventures – Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji and Heroine – were certainly problematic, but any objections to them are dwarfed by the aura given off by Calendar Girls that he had a low budget here and/or that he made this as a quickie while waiting for his next project to take off.

Nothing else can explain the all-pervading sloppiness of the film. Take for instance the titular calendar. The Kingfisher Calendar is an exclusive product that is gifted to a select few people, but the calendar in this film is shown hanging sadly at cheap eateries in Mumbai.

Elsewhere, at an agitation against Pakistanis, the protestors include men in skullcaps and women in burqas. Was a profound point about secularism being made here? If yes, it was lost on me.

A woman is told by her dad-in-law that her husband’s serial infidelity is a family “parampara”. She is heart-broken. Without any evidence given of a progression of feelings, we are later given a passing shot of the same woman, pregnant and being mollycoddled by that same husband. Had she accepted the “parampara?” Or had hubby turned over a new leaf? No idea.

Get get get Idea. Go go go go, get Idea. Aha ah ah, get Idea.

Don’t mind me. I got so sleepy revisiting this film for my review that I sang Idea Cellular’s ad jingle to wake myself up. Now seriously… Calendar Girls lacks attention to detail. For instance, TV anchors do not walk away from the camera the second they utter the last word on a show; they pause briefly to be sure they’re done. You wouldn’t learn that though if you were to take tips from a character in this film who is an anchor. Nitpicking, you say? No, demanding finesse.

Filmein toh bahut banti hai, par film wahi hota hai jo release hoti hai (many films get made but a film is truly a film only if it is released), says a character in Calendar Girls to a starlet.

Here’s a thought: Filmein toh bahut banti hai, par kuchh filmein aisi hai jo release nahin honi chahiye. After Calendar Girls, it will take a lot for Madhur Bhandarkar to redeem himself.

Rating (out of five): ½ (half a star)

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
132 minutes

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