Watching the opening credits, you know that LUCK BY CHANCE is not going to be the run of the mill stuff. The film bears the stamp of the kind of cinema that promises to have its heart in the right place. Thankfully, you stand justified by the time the closing credits roll.
The film is essentially a light hearted look at the struggles of those associated with the glam world of the Hindi film industry. Debutant Zoya Akhtar gives us an insight into the film industry workings such as how Bhandarkar offered us one on the fashion industry (Fashion) or the Page 3 socialites, but of course in a much lighter vein.
Films that depict life behind the screen politics always make for interesting viewing. LUCK BY CHANCE is more on the lines of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s GUDDI or the recent Southern flick UDAYANAANU THAARAM (Malayalam) (remade in Tamil as VELLITHIRA). In fact, it can even find similarities to Hollywood movies like WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
Zoya Akhtar throws it all into the package, from small time acting schools to big time corporate houses. On the one hand we have stars trying to save their current image, while on the other star-mom playing on their past ones. While producers cry about lack of respect to them, script writers sit back and watch their work being butchered. And with all of this, Zoya Akhtar might not be bringing something new to the table, yet ensures an effective jab is delivered without getting all preachy.
The story takes us through the lives of the two main protagonists Sona (Konkona Sen) and Vikram (Farhan Akhtar). Vikram lands up in Mumbai to try his luck at the big league after his acting school stint. Sona meanwhile, is a struggler doing itsy-bitsy roles for the past three years in the hope that her producer-‘friend’ will some day stick to his word and give her the elusive role.
Through the eyes of these characters, we are introduced to several more important players of the industry which includes producer Rolly (Rishi Kapoor), superstar Zaffar (Hrithik Roshan), the producers’ wife (Juhi Chawla), the star mom (Dimple Kapadia) and the star debutant (Isha Sharwani), all with their own baggage of anxieties.
Vikram soon befriends Sona and the two aspirants find common ground as their relationship blossoms. However while Sona learns that she is not getting the role she hoped for, Vikram suddenly finds himself shortlisted for Rolly Productions’ next big movie all thanks to superstar Zaffar backing out in the last minute. But Vikram realizes that it takes a lot more than talent to survive in the industry, and getting the big break, he is not the kind to let it all slip away that easily.
Zoya Akhtar has managed to impress in her first outing, and one of the primary reasons is the wonderful performances that she has managed to extract from her entire cast. Rishi Kapoor is a delight to watch as Rolly and Juhi Chawla supports him with ease. Dimple Kapadia also puts in a powerful performance as the star mom and it was wonderful to watch the grown up ‘Bobby’ pair interact once again on the big screen, talking about their glory days of yesteryears. Sanjay Kapoor too manages to put in a noteworthy show as the flop actor trying his hand at direction. Hrithik and Isha perform their parts effectively. Also special mention to the cameos of Saurabh Shukhla, Anurag Kashyap as well as the performance of Arjun Mathur, who plays Vikram’s buddy content with theatre.
The cameos come and go, but the one with Shahrukh Khan does leave a lasting impression. What is also interesting to note is how the stars doing the cameos end up lampooning themselves. We have Hrithik requesting to make his villainous character more positive, Aamir Khan expressing his concerns over the timing and dialogue delivery or when Shahrukh puts in an advise on how to select the right scripts, each is doing their own bit of fun and avid fans knows what they are digging at.
Unlike her brother’s debut flick DIL CHAHTA HAI, Zoya decides to be a lot bolder and does not try to please everyone with a cliché sweetened climax. Neither does she give us the typical ‘choco’ hero or heroine either. The people are more real here, and situations are more grounded. Probably why, in spite of all the empathizing and sympathizing, we still do not emotionally connect with the characters. Whilst at times Farhan hogs the limelight, Konkona’s Sona comes in to push the focus right back onto her. Farhan once again excels, and though he might not be as polished as many of the seasoned performers, there is still that honest quality about him which makes him endearing. Konkona is certainly one of the few true talents that remain in the industry, sparkling each time she shares screens with her co-stars, completely overshadowing the rest.
However the movie is not without its faults. For as Zoya does justice to her supporting characters, what we have is the narration slopping and plodding until the interval. It is only post interval that Vikram's character manages to find some footing and take the story forward. But the second half does come in strongly and fittingly.
Zoya Akhtar is well supported by her technical team to make this project alive. Shankar Ehsaan Loy provide a different yet functional score but Zoya seems to overlook the effects of a good background score in many of the sequences in the first half. Javed Akhtar does shines with the pen however, working out some great lines (like the ‘crocodile in a chiffon saree’ one). Scenes like the film-school graduation, the producer breaking down in front of his wife, the superstar’s insecurity at the rise of a new one, the star mom explaining her stand to her daughter, the advise from one star to another on how to deal with the intoxicating fame and money, or Sona’s response to Vikram’s feelings are all well executed and ample proof that another Zoya Akhtar’s debut is a confident masterstroke.
LUCK BY CHANCE is a well written script, executed rather efficiently if not perfectly, and brought alive onscreen by a superb performance from the ensemble cast. This welcome change certainly marks the entry of yet another talented Akhtar into the industry, which in no way is by chance!