Bollywood Movie Review: Corporate ...

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By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Film: "Corporate"; Starring: Bipasha Basu, Kay Kay Menon, Sammir

Dattani, Minissha Lamba, Rajat Kapoor, Harsh Chhaya, Sandeep Mehta,

Achint Kaur, Raj Babbar, Lillete Dubey; Directed by: Madhur Bhandarkar;

Rating: ***

So finally it's about the conscience. All of Madhur Bhandarkar's

best works, including his latest "Corporate", certainly qualify as fine

progressive pieces of cinema - which finally boils down to the question

of the conscience and the individual.

Kay Kay Menon, who plays the ambitious but conscientious corporate

wheeler-dealer in a company run by an unscrupulous tycoon (Rajat

Kapoor) who would go to any length climb his way up the corporate

ladder, is so adept at showing his troubled conscience that you wonder

which came first - the conscience or movies crystallising its

dilemma.

The corporate world, which is so much a part of television serials,

has never been exposed on the large screen since Shyam Benegal's

"Kalyug". To his credit, Bhandarkar, with considerable help from his

editor, slices through these ambition-driven personalities with the

urgent hiss of a car negotiating a craggy highway.

The bumps and jerks in these snarled lives are seldom detrimental to

Bhandarkar's tremendous knack for storytelling.

This is a director who packs in a precious punch in the plot. The

screenplay that Bhandarkar has co-written with Manoj Tyagi has enough

twists and turns to make the corporate jargon decodable to a

layman.

Like "Chandni Bar" and "Page 3", "Corporate" sets its feet firmly in

a culture-specific work-oriented milieu. It then finds an emotional

bedrock in its innumerable characters, portrays them as people trapped

in ambitions and desires over which they have no control after a

point.

Though Bhandarkar forms an amazing criss-cross of undercurrents in

the two rival families headed by Rajat Kapoor and Raj Babbar (even the

peons are shown making nudge-nudge-wink-wink remarks about their

bosses), the narrative finally narrows down to being a burnished love

story between two colleagues, played with rhythmic restrain by Kay Kay

and Bipasha.

While they both work on the same side of the fence, yet they drift

away due to their inability to control the swing of destiny.

As the morally upright Nishigandha who steals her rival's project

only to pay an unimaginable price for her indiscretion, Bipasha Basu

pulls out all stops to deliver a performance that avoids artifice.

This one is straight from the heart.

Though this is all about agile entrepreneurship, it is the heart

that eventually triumphs over the head in this smartly told drama of

doom and redemption.

Bhandarkar moves quickly and surely through the corporate labyrinth.

His well-researched plot finds its level within the characters'

conscience.

We're finally watching them with their souls naked to the

camera.

Every performance from Bipasha Basu to Sammir Dattani (who plays a

brief but bright role of a young executive in her office) is credible

and often compelling. Rajat Kapoor and Lillete Dubey (also in a brief

role) are front-runners in the performing sweepstakes.

Yes, the film's industrial mood and language may be impenetrable to

those who think tycoons wear expensive suits and have meetings in five

-star hotels.

One look at the lies beneath, and the gloss vanishes, the grime

bubbles to the surface. His plot is wide and often deep, giving

incidental characters a sudden but sure sweep of self-expression. Rajat

Kapoor's domestic life or the beginnings of a romance between new

recruit Minissha Lamba and Sammir Dattani are dealt with in just one

sequence each.

Bhandarkar is a past master wielding the whip over his plot until

the characters sing in a language of pain hurt and atonement. The

larger picture brings out some startling comments on morality in a

ruthless profession.

To begin with, "Corporate" may lack the dramatic intensity of the

director's earlier works. But once Bhandarkar takes you in, he turns

the screw hard, reminding us of how far away ambition has driven us

from our dreams.

Bollywood.com Rating: 3