Luck By Chance Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | Comedy, Drama
Gibberish aside, Zoya Akhtar shows class, edge, polish and poise in her confident first feature displaying a rare and distinct stamp of her own.
Jan 31, 2009 By Jahan Bakshi

At a time when (more often than not) all you take back from a movie is a splitting headache, the director of Luck By Chance gives you something to treasure in the first few minutes that form the film's opening sequence. The sweat, the dust, the extras, the spot boys, the posters, the grease and the paint- Zoya Akhtar makes you smell the celluloid in a magical montage that is as much a tribute to the movies as it is to those people behind them who we mostly overlook, by chance.

Zoyaji, you have made me chew my hat, and thank you so much for that. Admittedly, the 'from the makers of Rock On' tag had me a bit wary, for the slick but sanitized brand of cinema was truly beginning to suffocate, but for those who shared my odd apprehensions, the good news is that this debut director is as much a chip off the old family block as she is an Akhtar of a different feather.

Gibberish aside, Zoya Akhtar shows class, edge, polish and poise in her confident first feature displaying a rare and distinct stamp of her own. Luck By Chance is compelling cinema, satirical yet sensitive, and Farah Khan and Madhur Bhandarkar can learn a thing or two here about kicking a** without being crass- and with malice towards none at all.

Caricatures give way to characters, and cliches, while avoided as much as possible, are tastefully underplayed. Zoya Akhtar's look at the industry may not be unsparingly ruthless, but is admirably humane, honest- and not to mention hilarious- as Javed Akhtar's pen rediscovers its razor sharp wit.

Even as the film drags a bit at about 160 minutes, Zoya keeps us hooked and booked- and not with silly gimmicks, but with genuinely solid storytelling. She may have an array of stars- from Aamir to Shah Rukh Khan- at her disposal, but this is no vulgar 'look-how-many-stars-appear-in-my-film' display, and each one is used thoughtfully and to maximum effect- Sourabh Shukla, Anurag Kashyap and Mac Mohan (in the best one-line role ever) in particular are sidesplitting. On the other hand, Akhtar makes sure that every character that could otherwise have been reduced to a one-dimensional template comes alive as a flesh and blood person, without ever compromising on the central story of the two protagonists, resulting in an array of terrific performances by the supporting cast comprising Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Isha Sharvani, Hrithik Roshan and Juhi Chawla among others.

Whether it's Rishi Kapoor as the jolly Romi Rolly- the old-school formula filmmaker struggling to keep up with the changing industry, or Dimple Kapadia who he describes amusingly as a 'crocodile in a chiffon sari' or even Hrithik Roshan as Zaffar Khan, the vain star trapped in his 'image'- there is more to each of them than it initially appears and the actors play out the Akhtars' (Zoya and Javed) layered and clever writing with relish.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have done better work, but their eclectic soundtrack works pretty well for the film, and in Sapno Se Bhare Naina, they create a haunting melody that transports you right into the anxious mind of the struggling actor waiting for luck to strike. And Carlos Catalan's cinematography is truly amazing, the keenly crafted frames evocatively capturing the essence and ambience of the film.

Against the pitch-perfect backdrop of Big Bad Bollywood, the two leads Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma stun with potent performances, effortlessly controlled yet remarkable in the emotional heft they command. Farhan Akhtar plays Vikram Jaisingh, the wannabe actor determined to make his own destiny even if it means selling his soul, and Konkona Sen Sharma is Sona Mishra, the naïve starlet who waits for her 'patron' producer to give her a big break, as she makes ends meet doing B-grade films. Akhtar surprises in his role, and charms his way to success, incredibly retaining audience empathy even as he mercilessly manipulates and cunningly connives to achieve his ends. Konkona Sen Sharma is well, needless to say- brilliant as usual- her eyes speak volumes, and she breaks your heart as we see her character's love and dreams dashed to the ground. Their roller coaster ride cruel world of show business is riveting and brave, bittersweet ending leaves you reeling with its impact.

There are many memorable moments in Luck By Chance, and as much as I would love to recount them in vivid, awed detail, I'd rather not spoil them and let you discover them for yourself.

'Yahan talent ke saath saath luck bhi bahut important factor hota hai', a character says in the film. Zoya Akhtar is clearly blessed with both, and yet, how refreshing it is to see a director who never takes the audience or medium for granted, and clearly- leaves nothing to chance.

Jahan Bakshi