Friday, January 28, 2005

Page 3

Madhavi Sharma (Konkona Sensharma) covers Page-3 events for the newspaper she works for. As Vinayak Mane (Atul Kulkarni), a journalist on the crime-beat, scathingly puts it, “Who went to which party, who did they arrive with, who did they leave with, what were they wearing.” Notwithstanding the back-biting and air-kissing that’s standard fare.

Madhavi enjoys her job - there’s no conflict with her values when she’s being a spectator. She goes to parties, makes friends and acquaintances, and observes up-close, celebrities like industrialists, actors, designers, ministers and top-cops. She then writes about them, and argues with the editor (Boman Irani) over deadlines and priorities. She shares home with fiesty Pearl (Sandhya Mridul) an airhostess and later, Gayatri (Tara Sharma), a starry-eyed wannabe actress.  

The death of one of her Page 3 regulars, proves to be a turning point for Madhavi. It’s then that she sees the shallow self-centeredness of those she writes about. She sees with new eyes, the lies and the deceit that she has been blind to all this while.  

And it doesn’t end there. Madhavi’s trust is betrayed on all fronts, she finds herself alone. Her shift to crime-beat, despite Mane finally accepting her as a serious journalist, ends on a grim note. In the end, you see Madhavi Sharma, back in Page-3, observing with a wry smile, another party in full swing. She’s back in spectator mode, but not before righting some wrongs. Is this compromise or a work-smart philosophy that Madhavi has adopted? 

Konkona Sensharma is convincing as Madhavi, who subtly moves from being a mere spectator to a social catalyst. Her revulsion and anguish in the second half of the movie are very real.  

Atul Kulkarni, a Madhur Bhandarkar regular, has a small but pivotal role to play and he plays it with aplomb. Boman Irani, as the editor, proves his skill at taking on serious scenes with the same ease as the usual light-hearted ones that he’s constantly offered. Sandhya Mridul is good, Tara Sharma doesn’t come across convincingly in the second half. Others like Jai Kalra as Madhavi’s love interest, Rehaan Engineer as her gay friend and Bikram Saluja as the actor, are transient. Upyendra Limaye as the cop, Bhonsle, is one actor to watch out for. 

Soni Razdan, Nasir Abdulla, Dolly Thakore, Kunika Lal, Maya Alagh, Suchitra Pillai, Anju Mahendroo, Navani Parihar, Suhasini Mullay etc. form the coterie of celebs. Each one is etched to perfection.  

The music is woven into the storyline and the songs that one sees on television channels have been picturised especially for the medium.  

Madhur Bhandrakar, the director, deals with topics that are uncomfortable for most film-makers to take on. Case in point, Chandni Bar and Satta. Even in Page 3, there’s a layer of subtle digs at the lifestyles of celebrities, as discussed by their drivers. But when you scratch the surface, it reveals evils like pedophilia and more importantly, apathy. The scenes of a bomb blast in this movie, are very stark and intended to convey the intense shock that Madhavi’s character feels.  

Page 3 starts out being satirical, but addresses some very disturbing issues along the way. 

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