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Published April 1st, 2005 | by Raam Tarat

Page 3 Review

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar Rating: 3.5/5

It’s not what you think… no really. Fame, Glitz and Glamour are the buzzwords in this movie, but of a different kind. Page 3 has different inclinations for tabloid culture in both Britain and India. For the latter it is still photo-centric, but focusing on the rich and famous glitterati, and their hedonistic pursuits at the most exclusive parties in tinsel town. Not a breast in sight… that is of course, unless it’s tucked away in a Mumbai couture party dress.

The film follows the story of tabloid journalist Madhavi Sharma [Konkona Sen Sharma] as she frequents the ‘Page 3’ circuit of parties, events, and soirees, mingling with the who’s who of Mumbai. Gay fashion designers, wannabe models, aspiring actors, debauched socialites and moneyed industrialists all jostle for attention, and the need to be seen.

We see a world that’s surreal, where friendships are capricious, relationships based on convenience, and everyone seemingly leading dual lives. Although Madhavi slowly comes to terms with the hypocrisy and insecurities of the glamour world she inhabits, her reactions to it slowly change when she sees the effect it has on those closest to her. So begins her crisis of conscience.

Acclaimed director Madhur Bhandarkar [Chandni Bar, Satta] seems to be back on form, and much at ease with what he does best – telling a gritty story with a taut narrative, and no frills. Hence the simply functional music, and basic production values.

A lot of issues are explored in this – dysfunctional families, infidelity, paedophilia, drug culture, wife-swapping… hell, let’s even throw the casting couch in. But again it works as Bhandarkar keeps the pace steady, interweaving simply between the various sub-plots. Working also in no small part thanks to Sharma’s grounded performance as our protagonist Madhavi.

In seeing this world through her eyes, our values and incredulity at various situations can’t help but mirror her own, as she seems to be the sanest character there – and Page 3’s only moral voice.

This is not your typical Bollywood fare as it is devoid of your characteristic song and dance routines, fluffy love stories, A-Team style action, or melodrama. This is a story with substance, though an opinionated take on Mumbai high-society, and its’ social scene. Part social commentary, part dynamic satire – Bhandarkar’s take is unrelenting and ruthless, yet thoroughly entertaining.

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