Friday, July 07, 2006

Corporate - Review

Madhur Bhandarkar continues to walk on a tight-rope, balancing masala [AAN, TRISHAKTI] and thought-provoking films [CHANDNI BAR, SATTA, PAGE 3] consistently. Ironically, the noteworthy films in his repertoire have been those that dared to tackle an issue that hadn’t been explored on Hindi screens before: CHANDNI BAR and PAGE 3.

Madhur now peeps into the glitzy world of corporate identities in his new outing CORPORATE. Like CHANDNI BAR and PAGE 3, CORPORATE works for one solid reason: It brings to light the nitty-gritty of a world that most commoners never knew of. Battles fought in ostentatious and swanky offices aren’t known to the majority and it is this aspect that can be rightly termed as one of the USPs of the enterprise. But the real strength of the film lies in narrating a dynamic story. The best of ideas evaporate into thin air if entrusted to inept, inexperienced storytellers. Thankfully, Madhur narrates CORPORATE in the most simplistic fashion so that the common man can decipher the games corporate entities play to stay at the top. Besides, CORPORATE is as hard-hitting as CHANDNI BAR or PAGE 3. Beneath a strong storyline is an underlying message that makes you think.

In a nutshell, CORPORATE is an astounding successor to Madhur’s earlier achievements! Aristotle had once said, ‘The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.’ A century later, it could be rephrased as, ‘The secret of business is to know what the other person knows, and a little more.’ Welcome to the world of Corporates. A battlefield of power-hungry people. A world filled with deceit and corrupted minds. Where wealth, fame and success are fought over. And rules don’t exist. CORPORATE tells the story of two leading industrialists in the food sector, led by Vinay Sehgal [Rajat Kapoor], Managing Director of Sehgal Group of Industries and Dharmesh Marwah [Raj Babbar], Managing Director of Marwah International P. Ltd. Powerful, ambitious and relentless.

While there are many diligent people working for these companies, there is also Nishigandha [Bipasha Basu], a businesswoman with high aspirations and hunger to move to the top. She is at the centre of all the action. When the market opens up to international players, competition gets fierce. And the battle for supremacy begins. Moral codes are abandoned and ethics are forgotten as these two bitter rivals embark upon a deadly game of monopoly. Success and prestige take precedence over everything else. Good is no longer good enough. And people are driven to the brink of insanity. All in the name of business. If the war was just between two companies then their battles should’ve remained behind the scenes. Unfortunately, its implications have an impact on the common man.

This film peeps into the mindset of the powerful people and attempts to find out what makes them tick. It explores the nexus between the corporate world and the political and follows the trail of sex and corruption that hides behind a glittering and glassy exterior. The initial portions of CORPORATE and also the power games that the high and mighty indulge in may seem like Greek and Latin for the Hindustani junta. Madhur tries to be as real as possible while laying the cards on the table. Yet, there are several characters in the narrative that you identify with instantly. Like the scheming politician or the lecherous CEO of a company, who has sex on his mind all the time.

If you don’t gather a powerful impression of the first half, it doesn’t really come as a surprise, but Madhur reserves the best for the post-interval portions. It is in the second hour that CORPORATE does a somersault and turns into a story that the commoners can identify with. The twist in the tale -- when Bipasha is used as a pawn in the game -- sends a shiver down your spine. The razor-sharp developments thereafter, right till the climax, come as a shocker and open your eyes to a world that’s a complete sham. Directorially, Madhur Bhandarkar enters an alien territory yet again. Besides exposing the glitzy world of corporates, the film works primarily because the emotional twists and turns in the plot involve the common man. It’s in the post-interval portions that Madhur shows his competence, as a writer [screenplay: Madhur, Manoj Tyagi] first and as a storyteller subsequently. The impact the film makes from the pre-climax onwards proves that Madhur has only bettered the art of narrating a good story.

There’s not much scope for music [Shamir Tandon] in a subject like this, but the three tracks are quite tuneful. 'O Sikandar' and 'Lamha Lamha Zindagi Hai' are appropriate and only take the story forward. Cinematography [Mahesh Limaye] is of standard. The background score [Raju Singh] is in sync with the theme. Dialogues [Aje Monga, Manoj Tyagi] are sharp. The film has a plethora of characters, but the one who breathes life into her role and emerges trumps is Bipasha. She is competent in the first hour, but watch her take rapid strides as an actor in the second half, more so towards the finale. After Tabu [CHANDNI BAR], Raveena [SATTA] and Konkona [PAGE 3], Madhur taps the hitherto untapped potential of Bipasha this time around, making you realize that there’s more to Bipasha than just being a glam-doll.

Kay Kay too comes into form in the second hour, especially during the twist in the tale. The supremely talented actor exhibits his vast range yet again. Rajat Kapoor is excellent as the shrewd industrialist. Raj Babbar underplays his part beautifully. Harsh Chhaya is first-rate. Sandeep Mehta [as the lusty CEO] is an actor to watch. Vinay Apte is superb as the corrupt minister. Achint Kaur is dependable. Bharat Dabholkar does a fine job. Lillete Dubey deserved a better role. Minissha doesn’t get any scope. Sameer Dattani barely gets one scene, but is a silent spectator in the remaining three scenes. In fact, both Minisha and Sameer look completely forced in the screenplay. Payal Rohatgi is alright.

On the whole, CORPORATE works for its gripping drama towards the second half. At the box-office, the film is targeted at the metros and the multiplex audience in particular and has all it takes to keep its target audience completely satisfied. For the producers, the moderately-budgeted film has already proved a profitable proposition and for its distributors, the merits coupled with the open week will see the film growing from strength to strength thanks to a strong word of mouth.- Sify


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