Laaga Chunari Mein Daag

By Vidya Pradhan

lcmd.jpgSubtitled ‘The Journey of a Woman’, LCMD is director Pradeep Sarkar’s second film after ‘Parineeta.’ After that film received critical and commercial acclaim, the director moved up, budget-wise, to helm his second directorial effort under the banner of Yash Raj Films. In brief, LCMD traces the story of a young girl from a small town who is forced to become an escort after her family finds itself in dire financial straits. How her secret life impacts her family and future is the subject of the movie. While the issue is serious, it is treated with the gloss associated with the Yash Raj banner and that creates a certain detachment on the part of the viewer. For instance, Vibhavari, our heroine, manages to make some friends in Mumbai who help in transforming her( a la Eliza Doolittle) from a country bumpkin to an elegant high class call girl called Natasha virtually overnight, making her capable of earning thousands of rupees in a single encounter. Not only does this raise some obvious questions, but when you consider the plight of the typical stray that washes up on the shores of the metropolis, it is hard to control your skepticism. A hoarding for Chak De dates the movie, but both in treatment and plot LCMD feels like a throwback to a different decade. Apparently it is a remake of a movie called Aaina, from the 70's. Still, the lack of identification with the hapless girl makes it easier to watch the movie and therefore makes it more commercially viable. I mean, ‘Chandni Bar’ was a much better representation of what happens to such women but few of us want to put ourselves though the pain of suffering along with the character. Also, the film is beautifully shot and crisply edited. The holy city of Benaras is as much a character in the movie as the flesh and blood ones. With a strong visual sensibility, the director colors the ghats and the river in orange and gold nostalgic tones, signifying the innocence and purity that Natasha/Vibhavari has left behind. Bombay, by contrast, has a harsh and glittery aspect. This being a Yash Raj Film, location mascot Switzerland also puts in an appearance. Rani Mukherjee turns in another competent and faultless performance as Vibhavari turned Natasha. She is an instinctive actress and knows how to modulate her performance according the setting she’s in – witness her role in ‘Black’. Jaya Bachchan and Anupam Kher also put in sensitive and nuanced performances. Abhishek Bachchan’s appearance in the movie is brief enough to be called a cameo, but the chemistry that he shares with Rani carries over from Bunty Aur Babli, and the two have the makings of an enduring screen couple. One hopes directors will continue to cast them together. After swearing never to dance around trees in an interview a few years ago (if memory serves right) Konkona eats her words and does a Yash Raj song sequence complete with mountains and white flowing outfit. Though she doesn’t look completely out of place, she does look a touch uncomfortable playing the bubbly, spunky Chutki, Vibha’s younger sister. Her forte is serious, subtle, drama and she comes into her own in the last 3rd of the movie when the revelations about her sister force her to grow up. She pairs with Kunal Kapoor, who is seriously cute. It would easy to wear an intellectual cap and shred this movie to pieces, but seen through the prism of mainstream Bollywood, this is a well directed, well acted, lovingly shot fairy tale which serves its primary purpose of emotional entertainment. With a high sob quotient, LCMD is a nice monsoon matinee perfect for the women in the family to bond over. As for you guys, it is a painless opportunity to be chivalrous and pack a crisp, clean hanky – she’ll need it. Picture courtesy bollywoodsargam.com. For those interested, here is the New York Times review!

3 thoughts on “Laaga Chunari Mein Daag

  1. Anand

    I like the way you set the expectations – ‘mainstream bollywood, from yashraj stable, lovingly shot,etc.’. Yet, I am afraid the movie lacks the backbone- the screenplay is faulty to say the least.Jaya’s role as a selfish mother (she is ok with what her daughter is doing in Mumbai as long a she doesn’t show up in Benaras) lacks conviction. Two reasons to still go for this though- Konkana (she is awesome, and after Page 3,Omkara she is here to stay) and the good ol’ Benaras. And yes, do take the tissues.

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  2. vpdot Post author

    I think Chetna was a much more gritty and realistic look at prostitution. LCMD was modelled after a movie called Aaina where Mumtaz played the elder sister’s role. Haven’t seen either and am waiting for some online movie provider to have an extensive database of Hindi movies. Jaman, are you listening?

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