Laaga Chunari Mein Daag Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
Oct 12, 2007 By Jahan Bakshi

Even the little droplets of hope that one had left after watching the decidedly bizarre promos of Laaga Chunari Main Daag are mercilessly dashed to the ground. The Yashraj stamp (or rather, stain) is so ostentatious and evident in Pradeep Sarkar's second film that no amount of Surf Excel- or even Lux, which is so blatantly advertised in the film, can remove it. Barely twenty minutes into the film, and you know that this is a movie that has hopelessly and irreversibly been Yashrajed.

Laaga Chunari Main Daag begins reminiscent of Sarkar's first film Parineeta, with some lovely, breathtaking shots of the Ghats of Benares, doing well to establish the city. Then of course, we have Rani and Konkona- singing Hum To Aise Hain Bhaiyya and we are hooked enough by the lyrics and the two bubbly sisters, even to overlook the exotic façade that the film carefully sets up, dripping with saccharine.

As long as the film stays in Benares and focuses on the trials and tribulations of the family (Anupam Kher and Jaya Bachchan play the siblings' parents), the drama still manages to hold, despite all the tiresome cliches, cardboard villains and the soapy sentimentality. But once, Badki (Rani) leaves for Mumbai, the film also sinks, just like the character that falls into the sleazy world of prostitution.

Sarkar is undoubtedly a master of good visuals, and Sushil Rajpal's cinematography is gorgeous to look at- perhaps a tad too gorgeous, in fact- and there in begins the huge wave of problems that eventually overcome the film. This is a film that simply can't afford to not look glossy, so much so that the phone booth that Rani uses in the film looks like it has been uprooted from London and miraculously been transplanted here in Aamchi Mumbai.

Make no mistake- Vibha doesn't turn into one of those 'cheap prostitutes'- the kind we saw in Chandni Bar or Chameli. She instead, astonishingly transforms herself into Natasha- the 'high priced and exclusive' escort- who serves as arm candy to high profile businessmen and cavorts on hotel corridors wearing dresses and a wig that could well be right out of Bunty and Babli. Squirm.

As if that wasn't enough, we are then soon packed off to Switzerland and Italy, where the two sisters sing vapid romantic numbers with their respective stubble- sporting lovers- Abhishek Bachchan and Kunal Kapoor. I repeat, you are still watching a Yashraj film, the director shouts into the microphone, right till the very end, when all ends well, with a lavish wedding song for good measure.

This movie could have been an explosive bundle of talent, especially when it had Jaya Bachchan, Konkana Sen Sharma and Rani Mukherji sharing screen space. But none of these powerhouse performers can do much to help the loopy film. Jaya Bachchan is saddled with a pathetic and badly written role, and she is definitely one of the bigger disappointments in this film. Rani is efficient, but we surely expect more than merely decent acting from her, especially when she is supposed to have an author backed role- but to be fair to her, she tries.

Konkona, both undoubtedly and amazingly is the best thing in this film. Given what is probably her most unchallenging and uninteresting role yet, she still manages to infuse life into her character, giving the film a freshness that it rarely has. She's dressed in Manish Malhotra's clothes, she's singing, she's dancing and she's clearly having a blast. Atta Girl!

Laaga Chunari Mein Daag isn't really bad, and there are some nice moments that do touch you at times- but the film as a whole is too distant from reality, and far too artificial and hollow to move you.

Alas- Laaga Yashraj Ka Daag. And saying "Hum (Yashraj films) To Aise Hain Bhaiyya!" is definitely no excuse or explanation, Mr. Chopra.

Jahan Bakshi