Lesson learned: do not watch a movie, especially a complex and nuanced one like Luck by Chance, and then immediately go on vacation with no time to write it up for ten days. Sigh. What's left in my head is just a list of what this movie made me think about it - but that could be quite a list. Overall I thought this was very well done. I loved its strong women, both good and bad. I loved its celebration of and dose of harsh morning light for the film industry. I loved that it ends with a refreshing breeze of realism that's low on overt judgment of the characters: real happiness lies in knowing and being yourself, whether that's being true to your values
or true to your desires (which in some cases override any normal sense of "values" altogether, so much so that they become your values).*
There were only two things that bothered me about this film. First, it sometimes felt that the pins that flew at the Bollywood balloon were just too sharp and inexhaustible. Zoya Akhtar skewered the film world so gut-wrenchingly and left such bleak tatters behind that I felt like a chump for liking any of its products. Thank goodness it ends with such a confident, useful idea. The more lasting issue for me was what the story said about film world nepotism. I don't feel I got a tidy statement from the filmmakers about the incredible power of family connections, unlike its statement about sucking up, which I thought was clear as day. This issue is muddled further by the real-life connections of so many of the major players in this project. Maybe the writer/director was simply observing this tendency rather than stating a strong opinion on it. (The actual biographies of cast and crew also made some of the narrative about struggle and paying dues a bit hard to swallow, but I assume that was a purposeful juxtaposition designed to depict how film life really is rather than a choice to ignore their reality to create a rosier world for the film.)
To start, I want to jump up and down shouting praises for this fantastic, frustrating, fraudulent, fierce older generation of characters!
After this, Delhi-6, and Love Aaj Kal, I'm finally on the Rishi Kapoor train. I don't know what's taken me so long. He was wonderfully nervous, weaselly, and vulnerable. All of these people were so interesting! All of their performances were so knowledgeable! I just wish they got to do even more!
I loved Sona's ultimate diss of jackass Vikram.
Living well - your own definition of "well," at that! - is the best revenge. Along her path to freedom was this great bit with the fridge.
To me, the fridge was Vikram himself: resource-gobbling; too big for the space it has reasonably been allotted; deliberately tough, shiny exterior; very cool on the inside. Its whole point is to be cool. It isn't even absolutely necessary, but everybody wants one, is supposed to want one - so much so that it's endorsed by Vikram's predecessor Zaffar.
There was something really pleasing to me about some of the cameos. Of course I loved Akshaye getting to do as much as he did, especially because he actually doesn't seem to be terribly sought-after these days. After sitting through some of the crap he's signed up for in the last few years, the idea of him turning something down had me guffawing out loud.
Sorry A. You know I love you, but you sure don't know how to pick 'em.
Similarly, the side characters were very well written and performed. They felt like people you sort of know or run into off and on throughout life.
And the tribute to all the faces in the film industry that we don't see except in Farah Khan credit sequences. Lovely!
How badly do I want to see Pyaar Hua Tumse? Please, somebody, make this film!
Rani + Akshaye = MUST HAPPEN, even if the result is just their painfully bland assessment that each other was great to work with. I'd also queue up for A Fistful of Rupees or The Good, the Bad, and the Worst, which somehow sounds an awful lot like a Govinda film, doesn't it?
Sanjay Kapoor was great in this film. The first time I ever noticed him was in the adorable "Akhiyan Milau" from Raja on a Madhuri song DVD, and based on those two performances alone I say "More, please!" - he seems to have the ability to project slime, vulnerability, and impish cheer like his bro but is far less manic about it (sorry PPCC). (I realize this might be a minority opinion.)
Speaking of "More, please!": KJo and SRK as wise elders!
Last: visuals. This movie is packed with interesting things to look at that add context and characterization, comment silently on the action of the scene, and make jokes. Of course megalomaniac yesteryear glamazon Neena has a Birkin bag.
Of course she decorates her house with her own image.
Loved this extreme of the ubiquitous filmi oversized self-portraits in most hero/heroine living rooms!
A more artsy-fartsy version too.
Her films from the 80s would look exactly like this.
Sona's apartment is a wonderful contrast to Neena's: she loves bags too, but hers are giant and gaudy. Her jumble of cosmetics and jewelry would never fly in the more spacious and organized (though absolutely not more tasteful) Walia home.
Speaking of not tasteful: loved the sartorial riff on "Ek Pal Ka Jeena"
and the silver Hammer pants.
And Zaffar's party ensemble is dreadfully tacky.
Fabulous in its dreadful tackiness, of course, but still. And Ranjit's self-styled table !
And the fake magazine covers!
For those of you who have never read magazines aimed at teen girls, 1) count yourselves lucky and 2) this is totally accurate. "Is school secretly making you fat?" Heehee!
The fictional but totally true-to-life content-free film magazine stories!
The golden cage of the lush life, of a successful past that you can't live up to!
Loooove! There's so much to see in this movie - just in case your brain had any spare power left over from thinking about all the ideas from the text!
* I think it's really interesting that the only truly likable major character in this film had to choose between ambition and her values, and she ultimately chose her values. I kept thinking of Naach while I watched this. It presents a happier picture, since there our heroine's eventual level of success matched her level of commitment to her own values. I think Sona was ultimately satisfied with what she was doing, and certainly how she was doing it, but from an observer's perspective, she was much less successful in any obvious kind of way than the flattering, betraying user Vikram.