I watched Corporate on the second day of the release, that is on saturday. The tickets were easily available on friday night for the saturday shows. Now when the discerning public on a weekend is running away from advance booking, it should tell you something about how the film will be received. Anyway being the maniac I am, atleast when it comes to hindi films, I went ahead and bought the tickets for the saturday afternoon show. And despite being sleepy after a lovely home cooked breakfast, I pulled myself out of the bed and with a heavy body dragged myself to Priya cinema.
The theatre was packed with the weekend crowd, I didnt really see any seat free, but I am not sure. The sad part was that there was trouble for my mind, cause as soon as I entered the theatre, they showed the mind blowing trailer of Omkara, a forthcoming film by Vishal Bhardwaj(directed Maqbool). Now Omkara, is an adaptation of Othello, with Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor and Nasseruddin Shah. The fact is that Bhardwaj is a film maker par excellence, whether it was his music in the Gulzar films, or his own debut directorial venture Makdi (a children film) and the mind numbing Maqbool (after watching the film, I didnt say anything about it for twelve hours), Bhardwaj has given us literary and classy films. I am no expert on Shakespeare, but if someone were to judge the films adapted from his plays, Maqbool would be among the best. The simple point being that the flashes of Omkara left me hungry for a good and classy story telling.
Do you notice the guy in this poster on the extreme right, yeah, that is Saif Ali Khan's Gorakhpuri or Allhabadi look, hot yeah!
Now Corporate despite it being a Madhur Bhandarkar film was not highly billed due to lack of stars and therefore despite his reputation for hard hitting drama on contemporary issues, the film has been received rather luke warmly by even the press. The film stars Bipasha Basu, Kay Kay and Raj Babbar, now by any imagination that is not a star cast which will pull in the crowds. So the director, Bhandarkar,a smart one at that,obviously expects the content to drive the film. Corporate as a film, does a Page 3 on the world of buisness, mergers, acquisitions or simply the coporate world. Now Page 3 as a film worked well, it was first effort, very neatly done and a story well told through the experiences of the journalist.
Bhandarkar has attempted the same in Corporate. The film lays bare the under belly of the corporate world through the experiences of Bipasha Basu. Though, the film does not exactly follow the narration of Page 3, it does convey a similar effect. The film focuses merely on the sleazier, slimier aspect of the business world. Now in Page 3, despite the under belly exposed, we do get a balanced picture. In Corporate, the story is decided and the events move towards exposing that rot that has set into the system. So in that reading, it is the story which decide the events and not the events the story.
The film is grim and relates a depressive series of events which leads to Bipasha Basu being sacrificed by her boss. The dirt in the corporate world is told through the machinations of two food corporations at war and brokering politicians. Corporate uses issues of concern to contemporary India, like foreign investors, disinvestment of Public Sector Undertakings to illustrate the rot. The movie documents the systemic rot and the dishonest brokerage role being played by the state in the modern globalised economy despite the death of the license permit raj. And it is in this aspect that the movie does well, it documents the Indian state's continuing predilection towards graft.
Kay Kay plays the brother in law of one of the corporate boss and boyfriend to Bipasha Basu who works in the same firm. His character is weirdly etched and Kay Kay is definitively being type cast as a loser and a weak man in the world of the heroic hindi film heros. If we go back to the decaying , wasted, berserk son of Sarkar, Kay Kay's character is much more in control here but strangely his incompetence is not really worked upon but merely hinted at about a failed past in London and the sheer impotence in taking charge of his life and his girl fren's life when the film heads towards a climax. This is where the script writers blunder too and Bipasha who till then was giving all the airs of being a 'I know what I want' kinda women she throws it all up to sacrifice for her loser lover of a guy.
Over all, Corporate did not work for me. Despite Bhandarkar's sparks of brilliance in films like Chandani Bar and Page 3, his inconsistency is glaring. What he very obviously lacks, despite his efforts at tackling topical issues, is class and good story telling. The editing of the film is not so much of a problem, except the meandering first half, rather it is the manner in which the movie has been conceived. The song and dance routine have never been a problem in his films and he uses them to good effect, one of the few hindi film makers who actually do so. The film is a good show case of Rajat Kapoor (Preity Zinta's hip mama from Dil Chahta Hai) skills and abilities to hold a film together.
The films dialogues are so trite and so lacking in any spark, it is almost unremarkable. Vasundhara Das (of Monsoon Wedding fame) makes an appearance as a singer in the film, she has become so fat, it is almost obnoxious, I used to think she was so hot. Given a choice of going through the process of watching Corporate again, I would give it a miss. Not worth it, not for anything.
Still to Come or Delayed: American Pastoral and the Circle of Life