With Luck By Chance, the Akhtar’s have proven it that it’s not Luck when it comes to their family – the genes are replete with talent. Zoya Akhtar’s directorial debut is a confident film from a confident filmmaker. Luck By Chance is a more mature debut than her brother, Farhan’s debut film, Dil Chahta Hain. (Note that the comparison is not between the two movies and it’s not saying that DCH was a lesser movie).
Luck By Chance is the story of Hindi cinema, of the inner workings of the industry where thousands of people come to realize their dreams and only a few amongst them make it big – by luck or by chance or by talent!! Farhan plays Vikram who is a confident struggling actor who knows that he has to seize the opportunity (or even create one) to succeed. He believes in his abilities, is aware of his charms and is ready to leave his moral self at the doorstep if required. Konkona Sen plays Sona Mishra, another struggling actress who believes in other people giving her the opportunity to succeed. She is willing to go to that extra length should a need arise but relies on the outside for an opportunity.
I cannot recollect the last time I was able to write about well rounded characters in a Hindi movie (based on an original screenplay). All the other characters – big or small have been well etched: Rishi Kapoor as the King-maker producer Romy Rolly, Juhi Chawla as Minty Rolly- his trophy wife, Dimple Kapadia as Neena Walia, a queen bee of the yester era now pushing her daughter to be the next star (Rishi Kapoor’s character defines her in one memorable line in the movie), Hrithik Roshan as superstar Zaffar Khan, Anuj Mathur as Abhi – another struggling actor and a friend of Farhan and many more. The friends, sisters, brother-in-laws are not mere props to fill up the frame; they have personalities and character traits of their own.
Zoya’s attention to detail is remarkable in the locations, costumes, art design, a few examples: the slightly torn sofa in Sona’s kholi, a wicker basket covering a light bulb to give a romantic lighting effect. Romy Rolly’s garishly decorated bungalow and, Juhi Chawla’s costumes are in tune with their character which scream – money cannot buy class.
Jaaved Akhtar’s dialogues are witty, funny, sharp, satirical and have that edge which is required in a self-referential script such as this. Here’s a writer who is in complete sync with the current times and the generation. The dialogues simply sparkle!
There are many cameos by leading personalities from the Hindi film industry – AB Jr, Aamir Khan, SRK, Rani Mukerjee, Diya Mirza, Akhsaye Khanna etc. They are not obtrusive to the narrative and flow in and out quite seamlessly. Watch out for a line that Ranbeer Kapoor says – you will know what I mean. Also watch out for the senior Akhtars in a scene where they show up in the background. These cameos further help the script in showing the industry a metaphorical mirror.
The music of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Jaaved Akhtar’s lyrics is weaved in at the right places in the movie. The opening credits are beautifully done with the song ‘Yeh zindagi bhi’ and the real workers of the hindi film world: the carpenters, the poster painters, the tailors, the accountants, the box office cashiers, the extras, the make-up men, the hair dressers, the drivers, the trolley operators – these are the people on the ground. Who knows they too might have come to Mumbai to become an SRK or a Kareena Kapoor. Their dreams never really materialized, yet they keep dreaming on and toiling in this unforgiving fickle world of cinema:
Samjhane se kab mana hai
Dekho karta zid hai yeh dil
Choone hai Taare ise
Chahiye Saaare ise
The film ends with the song “Raahi re” with the camera on Konkona’s face. Her expression is that of contentment, loss, confidence and resolve. It’s not a text book happy ending as many would like it to be, but an ending which is immensely satisfying to me personally.
All the performances are spot on – Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen are superlative, Isha Sharwani as Nikki (the daughter of Dimple’s character who lives in a cake) is well cast. Rishi and Dimple the lovey-dovey couple of Bobby are fantastic as Romy Rolly and Neena Walia. Rishi is hilarious in a scene where he uses an airplane taking off as a metaphor for a stars career taking off. Also watch out for his reaction when the director (played with the required annoyance by Sanjay Kapoor) of his movie announces that the movie they made is a huge hit and adds “Jabalpur mein chakoo chal gaye ticket ki line mein, suna hain ek aadmi mar gaya” and Rishi raises his glass of beer and glees “Oye cheers to that yaar”!! Dimple Kapadia lives the role of Neena Walia, check her out when she blasts an editor of a glossy over yellow journalism! Then there are the fringe characters – Konkona’s friend, Juhi Chawla’s sister and her husband (they portray the parasites who cling to their more successful family members), Farhan’s friends, Nikki’s entourage, Farhan’s mausi, all small bits but well defined characters. Watch out for Anurag Kashyap’s cameo : he is hilarious.
There are numerous scenes which stay with you after the movie, such as (without giving them away): Hrithik Roshan’s scene with the little kids, the one with the Godrej refirgerator, the one with Sona in the producer’s van, Farhan’s fight and then making up with his friend, Konkona’s response to Farhan’s attempt at redemption – and many more.
Zoya has said that it took her seven years to make this film; I must say the wait was well worth it. With Luck By Chance, a much needed sensibility has arrived in Hindi cinema. Hopefully, this movie will pave the way for many more movies which deal with its characters and its audience like real human beings. Just as DCH was a path-breaking movie, so is LBC. Regardless of how it does at the box-office, 20 years from now, this movie will be discussed, analyzed and studied.