12 April 2009

LUCK BY CHANCE (Dir. Zoya Akhtar, 2009, India)

Pretentious is not the word to describe this latest directorial debut from yet another new supposedly talented Bollywood film maker. Most of today’s Bollywood stars and emerging directors have suddenly appeared from behind the powerful influence of their parents to make woeful contributions to Indian cinema. This continuing outbreak of nepotism has seen the children of Bollywood’s most celebrated film lyricist, Javed Akhtar, enter the industry with a supposedly knowledgeable and radical approach to mainstream cinema but their desire to be seen as a new wave has been blighted by a self obsessed and annoying cinematic style that cannibalizes their own cinematic memories with no real connection with the everyday youth of India today. Son of Javed Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar made his directorial debut with ‘Dil Chatha Hai’ in 1999, scoring an unexpected commercial success. Although the film tried to define itself as somewhat of a non traditional Bollywood film, it could not help but reinforce many of the bombastic cliques and conventions that haunt much of cinema made even today. Farhan Akhtar followed up the success of his debut film with a collaboration with Hirthik Roshan titled ‘Lakshya’, another film that promised much but sank beneath the jingoism of yet more nationalist ideology. Lately, Farhan has transformed himself into the most unlikely of television hosts, presenting his own TV show.

‘Luck by Chance’ is the directorial debut of Farhan’s sister and Javed’s daughter, Zoya Akhtar, who had previously collaborated with her brother on the script for Gurinder Chadha’s Jane Austen update of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ironically titled ‘Bride and Prejudice’. I didn’t warm very much at all to Chadha’s diversion into Bollywood and this film strikes a similarly pretentious tone throughout. The film is about an aspiring actor played by Farhan Akhtar who wants to break into the film industry but on his way encounters a number of eccentric and larger than life characters who represent the different facets of what is a very closed institution. Apart from a series of wonderfully executed opening titles which visits the varying extremes of Bollywood land, the film suffers from unsympathetic characters and a predictable narrative that uses the conventional song and dance sequences. ‘Luck by Chance’ heralds nothing new and fails to generate any kind of sustained interest in what could have potentially been a chance to provide an insider’s point of view of Bollywood. Nevertheless, the film might have you hanging around simply to spot the countless cameos made by the elite of Bollywood.

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