Page 3 is intense and engaging

I was on a fortunate streak of watching some good movies last week. First, it was Mithya (2008), which I reviewed in this post. Then I saw Page 3 (2005). Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, and starring Konkona Sen Sharma, Atul Kulkarni, Boman Irani, Tara Sharma, Sandhya Mridul, and others. It was recommended by a friend from middle school (who I am fortunate to still be in touch with, after having crossed paths just once in the last 15 years since I moved away from India), so I finally saw it and was stumped at how good it was.

So what is Page 3? Per the introduction in the movie:

Page 3 akhbaar ka who color page hai jis mein rich and famous logon ke baare mein chapta hai” (informally translated as: Page 3 is that page in the newspaper in which rich and famous people are discussed).

The film addresses several civic issues prevalent in India. As the catalyst for the several revelations that are made in the film, it uses the character of Madhavi Sharma (played by Konkona Sen Sharma), a page 3 reporter who covers the gossip in the lives of the Mumbai socialites. Here are some of my highlights from the film. If you have not seen it, skipping to the bottom of the post might be in order:

1. Konkona Sen Sharma (pictured below, to the left). It really takes someone with her acting capacity to pull this off, and she delivers with an excellent performance that makes the viewer feel engaged throughout. Her relationship with her roommates, played by Tara Sharma (middle) and Sandhya Mridul (right), is well portrayed.

2. Atul Kulkarni. Remember the annoying racketeer who eventually became a good guy in Rang De Basanti (2006)? Here, he plays a crime-beat reporter for the same newspaper as Konkona Sen, and serves as important function as influencer of the protagonist.

3. The plot has everything one would expect in a chronicle of sorts of the social elite. From a woman who treats her husband ‘like a dog’ while having affairs with younger men (not that there is anything wrong at all with the younger man-older woman affair; it’s the extra-marital piece that’s the problem), to a casting couch that is cause of tremendous distress for an aspiring actress (will she succumb?), a cop who parties at night and teaches actors how to hold guns during the day, a sickening discovery of child abuse, and everything in between.

4. The ambience of the parties, the primary catalyst for Madhavi’s discoveries (and Page 3 material fodder) is well captured. I cannot speak as much to people from the film fraternity, but the individuals from the corporate and fashion worlds are well portrayed.

5. There was a stage while watching where I could not help but think of how many more issues the filmmakers would confront. One weakness of the film is that it tries to do and tell too much. But this is also a strength, because by the time the film ends one realizes that the interconnectedness of each of the issues is very real and awe-inspiring.

6. There is a police raid at a party where I noticed one person was wearing a Ricky Williams jersey (the #34 of the New Orleans Saints, which was of course the team he played for before he was hired by the Miami Dolphins). I thought it was very interesting. My initial reaction was ‘hey, look, a Ricky Williams jersey in India!’. Turns out the person who was wearing it was into drugs. And if you have followed college or NFL football over the years, you know Ricky Williams has had a major issue with drugs throughout his career. Coincidence while trying to look hip or just good placement? Either way, it was interesting.

7. Given the plot, it is not surprising that most songs are placed at parties. There were two songs that stood out. Huzoor-e-aalaa (sung by Asha Bhosle and Abhijeet) and Kuan Maan (sung by Sapna Awasthi) are two well placed songs. The former is beautifully sung by Asha-ji (watch the music video independent of the film below), and the latter an excellent example of when an item number can serve a purpose.

8. There is one scene toward the end where Atul Kulkarni tells Konkona Sen the following:

Sacchaii ko batana zaroori hai, lekin kis tarha se bataee jaaye usey samajhna zyada zaroori hai (informally translated as: It is necessary to speak the truth, but it is more important to understand how to speak the truth). We have to be in the system to change the system.

That, to me, was the essence of the film.

There are several other instances that I would rather not mention in the interest of saving some of the more critical results to the movie-watching experience. If you have not seen Page 3, do check it out. I am going with three and a half stars and then some to Madhur Bhandarkar and his team for a very good film with outstanding performances by some outstanding actors.

Movie rating: 3.75/5 (Very good!)

My classification: R (for language, plot, violence, and sexual themes)

Soundtrack rating: 3/5 (good)


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Page 3 when I saw it. Your post makes me want to watch it again!

The guy who plays the journalist was also the "terrorist" in Khakee. I think he's a great actor.

theBollywoodFan said...

Agreed, Filmi Girl. Here is to seeing more of Atul Kulkarni. I haven't yet seen Chandni Bar, but hear he did very well in it too.

Speaking of Page 3, the song titled "Filmi very Filmi" would fit in well as a theme song for your blog! ;)

Anonymous said...

That's it. I'm bumping Page 3 to the top of my Netflix queue. I haven't seen Chandni Bar, yet, but with Tabu in the lead I have high expectations.

I've been on a 70s kick, but maybe 2000s realism should be next. I haven't seen Mr. and Mrs. Iyer yet, either.

theBollywoodFan said...

Chandni Bar and Mr. and Mrs. Iyer sound very interesting. I have those two and Maqbool on my to-watch list.

And I need to get into the 70s mode for a bit =)

Anonymous said...

Mr & Mrs Iyer is a very good movie and Konkona did a great job. But then she is excellent in what ever role she does. I have seen all her movies except Page 3.

I need to find a copy from friends or the local desi store.

Interesting coincidence, I also accidentally met my high school friend on a local train in Sydney years after we graduated!

She in turn accidentally met another school friend in a Delhi shop years after we graduated! The 3rd school friend has been living in London for long now.

Life can be bring unexpected and pleasant encounters.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: I have yet to see Mr and Mrs Iyer, and I really look forward to it. Konkona is one of the finest actresses we have today, and I'm almost certain you'll enjoy her performance in Page 3. I want to see Amu as well.

Thank you for sharing your remarkable story! We could all use some pleasant coincidences as yours!

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