Luck By Chance (2009)

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So now I’ve watched two predictable films in a row, but I really enjoyed this one. A mostly affectionate behind-the-scenes look at Hindi cinema, it’s a fairly standard “follow your dreams/be true to yourself” kind of film but close attention is paid to details, and it is blessed with wonderful performances, snappy dialogue and lots of humorous little moments. It’s colorful, lively, and full of things to take notice of (like, doesn’t Farhan Akhtar look just like his dad in profile?).

And also:

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A dancer stuck full of giant push-pins! Only in Bollywood.

I think everyone knows the story by now: Vikram (Farhan Akhtar), an ambitious young actor with a freshly minted acting degree (includes: fighting, horseback riding, dancing, lipsynching and romancing) makes it big in filmland at the expense of his relationship with struggling actress Sona (Konkona Sen Sharma—how I love her!). I would also say he succeeds at the expense of his soul, but I am not sure if that is a judgment the film wanted to make; he is pretty much let off the hook by Sona eventually with a “Some people are just like that.” But I was left thinking that of all the characters populating the film, probably only Vikram’s friend Abhi (Arjun Mathur) and Sona herself would be people I’d want to hang out with.

In any case, the journey is peppered with oodles of real industry people, some fun caricature-like characters and an occasionally snarky (but always good-humored) look at the Hindi film industry.

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This may be my favorite Hrithik role yet (not that there is much competition). He is quite funny as Zaffar, and he really can dance.

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The sweetest moment in the film for me was when his car was surrounded by children shouting “Zaffar!” and he connected with them through the window glass. I got the impression that he might have been playing himself at that moment.

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Rishi and Juhi Chawla are hilarious as Romy and Minty Rolly, the superstitious producer and his kitty-party-attending diamond-encrusted wife.

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Dimple is truly scary-funny as vain and self-centered 1970′s star-turned-star-mother Neena:

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Does Isha Sharvani always have to contort herself into a pretzel? Is it written into her contracts? (To be fair, I’ve only seen her otherwise in Kisna, but she was a pretzel in that too.)

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Sanjay Kapoor is quite funny as Romy’s┬ábrother Ranjit, a failed actor-turned-director with a fetish for westerns (“A Fistful of Rupees” and “The Good, The Bad and The Worst”):

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Of all the real-people cameos, I was very happy to see Mac Mohan (where he was forced to deliver Sambha’s dialogue from Sholay—no doubt something that happens often in real life to him too).

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But my favorite (of course) was the one which pretty closely reflected my own experience recently on the sets of 3 Idiots:

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I look forward to seeing what Zoya Akhtar might do with a less predictable and more substantive story! but Luck By Chance is lots of good fun too, and a very creditable debut.

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47 Comments to “Luck By Chance (2009)”

  1. Nice job! Didn’t you like the unconventional ending? That’s what I liked best about the film.

  2. You make this sound so fun!!! I own this one, but have made a vow to watch “Rock On” first so I can get excited about Farhan Aktar in this one–lol. Also, I’m a “Save the best for last” kinda gal…
    I love Konkona too! Even just looking at that screenshot you’ve captured, I just know I’m gonna dig her in this. Not to mention Hrithik–I love when he’s being goofy because I’ve seen him in some interviews and he seems to have that kind of eccentric sense of humor. I like it, though.

    • I didn’t much care for Rock On, found it dull but this one was just full of little sparkly things that I loved :) Hrithik should do more comedy, he’s good at it—and I think Konkona is awesome in everything she does.

  3. Also. Gotta love the pins in the back! Just couldn’t leave without mentioning them!

  4. Sounds like a fun movie…though whenever I see Rishi now…I get a bit sad, remembering what a cutey he USED to be…oh well, we all get old (some of us just look worse for wear than others.)

    It’s great that you’re letting out so many reviews after your holiday…your commentary on movies is just great.

  5. Oh yes I loved it too. Lovely characters, performances etc. This is the fourth outing of the old magic couple Dimple-Rishi, but they are not paired together, but my disappointment lasted about 5 seconds, because all the casting was so PAT. It is one of those feel good flicks you can watch again and again.

    Lovely humour in the film… Rolly orders a huge lunch and Minty frets about the diet food she has cooked for him. Sanjay Kapoor says – Dont worry Bhabhi, he will eat it all. haha !

    And the best one with khoon and murder ! haha ! Dont want to spoil that for people who might be watching the movie soon, as they should.

    • There are so many very funny moments—and the dialogue was superb throughout. Even the backgrounds had things to look at (like the movie posters in Rolly’s office—hilarious). I love that kind of attention to detail…

  6. Loved this one. And the more time passes, the more I realize it was Rishi’s show all along. He’s a VOLCANO OF TALENT! SOMEONE WRITE THAT DOWN!

  7. i know a lot of people Ive talked to wanted more drama in the film but i actually really loved it. it was the little things that made it good..
    also..just a correction, sanjay kapoor played his brother instead of his i believe in the movie

    • More drama would have probably dragged it out way too long :) Agree completely re: the little things, and thanks for the correction—I did wonder how Sanjay Kapoor and Rishi could be father-son given their respective ages! I’ll correct the post :)

  8. I really liked Luck By Chance, and all the special appearances (Kareena!), but didn’t find the end convincing enough, although it’s not its idea I disagree with, just the method of delivery, if that makes sense. The music is beautiful, and so is Juhi Chawla!!!

    • I liked that the end was not as predictable, but it was handled rather in a rush if that’s what you mean :) The music was nice—I loved the Hrithik dance number, and the song where Farhan and Isha are “romancing” in their film especially. And Juhi is always a treat, I adore her.

      • At the very outset, a class Farhan’s in is instructed to ‘feel’ the character. I didn’t think the end was done in a rush, I just think (in my armchair actor arrogance, LOL…we’ve seen her do a *lot* better to where she’s really one of the finest young actresses in the country today) Konkona ought to have been in that class! Whatever it was (might’ve simply been emotion), seemed to be missing. Of course, the film might know it. That class instructor also stresses the importance of drama in cinema :)

  9. I too enjoyed this movie very much Memsaab. Rishi, Dimple and Juhi were awesome in their respective roles. In a recent interview, Rishi has said that his character (mannerisms) is based on a number of producers he has come across over the years including one who used to visit him for story sessions in his night dress!

    Isha Shravani is a talented classical dancer. Ghai made her concoct into a pretzel in Kisna – u r right.

    • I’ll be he has come across producers like that! I’ll bet he (and Dimple, and Juhi too) have seen it all in their careers :-)

      Isha is talented, but watching her all twisted up like that makes MY muscles hurt! :-D

  10. I liked Rock On a lot, and wanted to see this one too, but somehow never got around to it. Will go and look around for the DVD, pronto!

  11. it looks liek I’ll have to watch the film on my next trip to india. the screen caps are great, as usual!
    Thanks!

  12. I loved Rishi and Dimple in the film. And Hrithik. They carried off their roles with a tongue-in-cheek something of their own.

  13. Ack! Why have I not seen this yet? Why, Netflix, why???

  14. LOL! It only JUST came out on DVD, so give them time! :-D

  15. I’m glad you liked it!!

    What made this a flawed film, for me, was hanging the story on Farhan’s character and his relationship with Sona (I don’t think he had the acting ability to pull this off) and the overall feeling that it was a watered-down Bollywood film.

    She just went halfway with the songs, halfway with the melodrama, halfway with everything.

    I think I would have enjoyed this more if it had either been MORE full of traditional BW melodrama and songs or if it had gone 100% arthouse and had been more like a Robert Altman film following all the twists and turns of the making of a movie with nobody hammering one main plot thread down my throat. How awesome would a “Nashville” about the BW film industry be?!

    Then again, I’m a cranky blogger and probably not the target audience of the film! The performances – aside from Farhan – were all stellar and I’m glad everyone is finally joining me over in Rishi Pradesh! (PPCC, I’m looking at you! “Karz” all around!)

  16. I thought of the Vikram-Sona story as the spine supporting all the other, more interesting body parts :-D

    Ahhh, Karz. A film that really didn’t need to be remade…

    • Yeah… nobody can recapture the giddy OTT glory of the original “Karz” unless Rishi has the script for a sequel stashed away somewhere. ;D

      And I thought the samething you did about LBC’s “spine” but I guess I didn’t think it was enough of a spine to hang a whole movie on. I needed either more masala or more arthouse – but then I’m a very low brow or high brow kind of gal!

  17. I looooved this one. It was predictable and fantastic, but so well done. Considering how much trouble Zoya reportedly had in casting the film, I was amazed at how well-cast all the roles were – especially Romy Rolly and his VOLCANO OF TALENT! :-) It was funny though, that in a movie about an outsider breaking into Bollywood and overflowing with star-kids, the only star-kid in the film is played by an actual outsider!

    I loved the Vikram-Sona story too, and was so pleased at the unconventional ending. And YAY for not demonising an actress for succumbing to the casting-couch and a “hero” who is unashamedly self-centred and selfish!

  18. I’m dying to watch this film, Gulaal and Dev D.

  19. That car scene of Hrithik is really superb. I too liked that very much. and agree that he was playing himself. But there was another fellow who was playing himself. Sanjay Kapoor!! Loser actor, becoming Director. Has Producer Brother, and beautiful Bhabhi. No??

    Special performance I liked most was of SRK !! Well written and long enough to impress you.

    • I don’t know much about Sanjay Kapoor I must admit :-) But I liked him in this, anyway!

      I think Zoya A. showcased all the “real” people very nicely in this: Kareena at the party, for instance, and yes—she really made SRK look like the superstar that he is.

  20. This is one of the good meta-movies recently. But I would pay equal money to watch “Dil Ki Aag” (the movie within the movie), if only to watch Hrithik and Isha’s dances. One of my few “good” memories of Kisna include Isha’s dances.

    As for Hrithik’s role, doesn’t Lakshya rank above this one?

    • Amey, Amey, Amey—Dil Ki Aag starred VIKRAM eventually, not Hrithik :-) I like dancing to be a big more energetic that Isha’s writhing I have to say. And I haven’t seen Lakshya…so can’t comment on that :-)

      • Well, yeah. But I am talking about the original Dil Ki Aag. The one with human pin cushions and Hrithik as Willy Wonka. As for dances, I guess dancing with Hrithik would change that, even though I am happy with how she is right now :D

        Watch Lakshya…

  21. Glad you liked the film! I felt the creativity in the Baawre dance was phenomenal. I think it was done by Vaibhavi Merchant? That woman is truly fantastic!

    I loved the film!

  22. Oh, I loved this movie – so much that I had to watch it again a few days later. This time I forced my husband to watch it with me, and he really liked it, too – which is saying a lot since he’s not at all into Bollywood like me..

    I used to work in show business and I loved all the little references to how it works, the nepotism, clannish-ness of the casting, the coincidences that can make or break a film (Armaan broke his leg?..) and the desperate ambition of all the young actors. The pace was great, the script super-tight and the performances were just fantastic, not only by the two leads but by everyone – they were funny but didn’t cross the line into the cartoonish (even the hilarious Sanjay Kapoor). I think Dimple Kapadia’s part was my favorite, she was just priceless. My boy Hrithik’s bit part was fun but then he didn’t have to really stretch himself.

    I did have one tiny quibble – Did anyone else think that the party clothes they all wore in that Kareena scene were particularly awful? What was the designer thinking? and Isha’s hairdo?

    • The details all really did make this. I don’t remember thinking about the party clothes in the Kareena scene, although I don’t doubt that they were awful :) Party clothes in general post the mid-70s seem awful to me!!! :-)

  23. it was an okay film. some pretty watchable performances. rishi kapoor was probably the best of them all. did they mean to show that zafar was gay in the party?

  24. Okay I’ve to slightly disagree with what you’re saying here, Memsaab. That is about predictability and ‘follow your dreams’ message. Well okay, at some level it is that, but just calling it that does no justice to this film. What I love about this film, aside from the in-jokes of course, is how Sona’s character is developed. A lot of these big successes are product of luck (and don’t we know that!) like with Vikram. But I felt the ending actually implied the quite opposite, sometimes your dreams don’t work out, sometimes luck swings against you – and that’s okay, and when you look it from a different perspective like Sona did, I think she has learned to find happiness in her small ‘victories’. And the most important part, for me, is not just the open ending, but how a woman, who is not exactly living her dream, still made a stand and said “no” when her ex live in partner/boyfriend (who became a Bollywood celebrity) came to make amends. And that too without any outbursts and in a calm reasoned and mature way. I think that is very feminist, and we need more complex female characters who are strong and independent like that in Bollywood. I think Zoya deserves a lot more credit for this IMO.

    What did annoy me though, is some caricatures, like Farhan’s aunt – that really could have been avoided in an otherwise great film.

    PS: I’m obsessively reading your reviews, and linked reviews within reviews, so expect random comments like these :P

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