Madhur Bhandarkar’s films seem to follow a certain pattern. All his films expose some thing to the audience; exposé on various systems, structures, lives etc.
Exposé. That’s the word. He keeps making film after film exposing something or the other, and he categorically states so, himself.
“Here, I show you the page 3 world as it is,” it was in Page 3.
“Here, I show you the corporate world as it is,” it is in Corporate.
In his next film, it is going to be, “Here, I show you a Traffic Signal, in and out, with all its intricacies.”
In Page 3, Madhur Bhandarkar not only lacked the finesse to portray celebrities for what they are, but was so judgemental on them that it could have given S P Muthuraman’s Sakalakala Vallavan a run for its money. It even had a police inspector telling an upper-class party dude, “First, be a good Indian!” or something to that effect.
Thankfully, Corporate, by and large, stays away from that sort of stuff. (But, just like in Page 3, every now and then, some peon or security guard pops up and tells his associate what and how corporate world is. So disconnected, out-of-place and irritating, to say the least.)
Corporate revolves around the business rivalry between two companies, both of them big players in the food industry. Every element one could think of in this genre - money, power, politics, treachery, foreign investments, and shamefully shady deals – finds a place in the plot.
And, that is all there is. There is no emotional thread that ties the proceedings; nor, is there any revelatory moment that makes us connect to the characters. The result is a dull, long-drawn film that diligently documents the goings-on in the two companies which play it all dirty to beat each other, and goes nowhere else. The corporate log, the politicians, the middlemen, roll their dice on and on, sometimes losing to, sometimes striking back at, and sometimes winning over their counterparts.
It’s late into the film, when the pesticide scandal episode surfaces in the plot, the film engages us, despite the oh-so-naïve ethical stand some characters take in the meeting when the issue comes up.
Among the actors, Rajat Kapoor was really cool, as only he can be. Kay Kay Menon was very good too, but he is getting stereotyped for the role of a brooding man. It’s high time he reinvents himself in some other kind of role.
Towards the end of the film, Atul Kulkarni, in the voice-over, says that, the junta forgot about the pesticide scandal very soon. That is pretty much our reaction to the film too.
Jul 27, 12:08 p.m.: Cross-posted at NaachGaana.com. (Also, slightly modified the post.)