Laaga Chunari Mein Daag - had it and lost it

Saw Laaga Chunari Mein Daar (2007) yesterday, after much deliberation. As I have been trying to catch up with my Bollywood intake over the holidays, I have seen some excellent (Taare Zameen Par) and not near good (RGV Ki Aag) movies. I realized I just included TZP and RGV Ki Aag in the same sentence. Excuse the injustice, Aamir bhai. :)

Laaga stars Rani Mukherjee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Anupam Kher, Jaya Bachchan, Kunal Kapoor, and Abhishek Bachchan. It is an intriguing story that carries an undoubtedly bold script . The script is effective in making a protagonist of a woman (Rani) who, in carrying the burden of a family in deep financial trouble, resorts to prostitution. Her sister (played by Konkona) discovers this and supports her against the wishes of their mother. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that the introduction of suitors to both the young women brings a turnaround to the family.

It is an effective story, but hardly a new one. The climax comes too easy, but spares viewers of any far-reaching scenes, which makes it good. Konkona Sen and Kunal Kapoor put in excellent performances. About the only actor in the film who seems a little over-the-top is, believe it or not, Jaya Bachchan. She is effective in parts, but appears too artificial in most segments, leaving a lot to be desired. Rani Mukherjee's role is not as well-developed as it could have been. The ideals she portrays, versus her profession, are completely contradictory, and while one's heart does go out to her as the protagonist, it is hard to imagine such a personality in real life. This obviously works against the film, although the actress puts in a fine performance which partly makes up for it.

The songs are decent. Hum tau aise hain bhaiyya would have worked better with the opening credits instead of a stand-alone song right at the outset. The Hema Malini mujrah song is a little over-the-top, although believable. Hate to say this for I have nothing against Hema Malini, but it would have been a completely different song were it with a more physically fit actress. One cannot convince me enough that the casting for this song had a fair audition behind it.

Overall, not a bad film. That it tries too hard to be everything to everyone (a Yash-Raj trademark, for better or worse) relegates what could have been a good film to an average masala flick. It has its moments and has a message (controversial but worth putting some thought into) as its undertone, which is the primary reason for a two-star rating.

Movie rating: ** (Average)

My classification: R (for plot)

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