Sunday, July 09, 2006

Corporate - 3 stars

I am a huge fan of the Madhur Bhandarkar school of film making... but Corporate did not really work for me.

The Madhur formula is simple: take a 'strong' female character, provide a peek into a hitherto unseen but interesting world, expose its seamy underbelly. Treat the audience with intelligence; they can live with the fact that a film - like real life - need not have a happy ending.

'Corporate' stays true to all this but fails for two reasons:

1. The world Madhur has chosen to 'depicted is not as mysterious or interesting as the world of bar dancers or Page 3 personalities.

Besides, we've seen power and money hungry businessmen on screen before. And venal politicians for sure. This time they sit in gleaming glass buildings and are outfitted by Allen Solly. But overall the film looks like it was made by putting together 'leftover' ideas and characters from Page 3.

2. The bigger issue is the central character - senior Vice President Nishigandha Dasgupta, played by Bipasha Basu. She starts off as this ambitious, I-can-hold-my-own-in-a-male-dominated-world kind of character. But as time goes by, she wimps out completely in the name of love.

For these reasons I don't think 'Corporate' will be a hugely impactful film - critically or commercially. But it's still worth watching because, yes, it has many good moments. And in sum, it's decently made.

Of course, like a Hollywood production, you'll have to pay a bit of attention to figure out who's who. There are a lot of characters, and kaun kis camp ka hai takes a bit of time to digest.

'Corporate' is about the rivalry between 'Sahgal group of industries' and 'Marwah group of industries'. Both groups are bidding for a PSU which the government has put up for sale. Both woo a creepy looking politician called Gulab Rao who is stupendous in the film.

I loved the way he bellows into his cellphone "I am at a 'charity function'" when he's actually cavorting with item girls :). And the manner in which the tender is rigged feels like it came out of genuine research.

But a lot of other things do not ring true. Do senior VPs meet with secretaries in juice shops to learn of their rival's secrets? Chalo, maybe. But hiring a hooker to access a rival's room and steal data from his laptop? Maybe they should add a module called 'spy vs spy' for MBAs!

The film picks up steam in the second half. Sahgals launch the 'mint based sft drink' that Marwah was planning to. And another dose of 'reality' the pesticide in cola controversy is brought into the picture. The film makes a point about how 'issues' are actually used by business rivals to screw each other. That both media and NGOs can be easily manipulated.

Sahgal (played by Rajat Kapoor) is the suave and suited first-gen entrepreneur, with a more 'professional' management style. But Marwah (Raj Babbar) as the more traditionally rooted businessman is more interesting as a character study. His dependence on a 'bapu' for advice on all personal and professional matters is a nice touch.

Kaykay plays Ritesh, Sahgal's brother in law and Bipasha's love interest. He is required to act angsty and tortured and does that job pretty well. Harsh Chhaya as Sahgal's right hand man is very good. Minissha Lamba - never noticed her before - is rather sweet as a young manager. Lilette Dubey as a high class 'madam' (the kind who goes to the gym and interviews celebrities on TV!) plays her part to perfection.

I wish Madhur had not chosen 'colas' as the product that the two companies went to war for. Because that is a category where 'Sahgals' and 'Marwahs' slugging it out jars you. After all it's only Pepsi vs Coke today - both multinationals.

We do see a 'gora' in the form of a taklu called Steve who is Sahgal's JV partner, but I think the battle could very well have been over some other product where Indian companies reign - like mobile phones.

And this is an important point because Madhur always tries to present a 'slice of life' in his films so we expect less of creative license. I think he chose colas because around the time the script was written the 'pesticide in cola' controversy was at its peak. And so it was convenient.

As per the 'Page 3' formula humour and occassional insight is provided by the office peons and security guards.

"Jo kaam ek aadmi kar sakta hai... jab 50 log table par baith kar karte hain.. aur kharaab karte hain - usey Corporate kehte hain".

Ha ha. Mintzberg would probably agree :)


  1. Its a Page 3 hangover. If one night stands and bribing is only way to survive & suceed for coporates today as has been potrayed in the movie then the corporates today would not be MBAs but politicians and prostitutes(or gigolos). Its a bad movie and I give it not more than 1 and half star.

  2. Minissha Lamba - never noticed her before - is rather sweet as a young manager.

    --> her debut movie - Yahaan , with Jimmy Shergill, set in Kashmir About the movie - Yahaan

    I think the battle could very well have been over some other product where Indian companies reign - like mobile phones.

    --> Indian companies reign in mobile phones? when did Nokia/SonyEricsson/Seimens/Motorola turn Indian ?
    Or are you referring to mobile service providers ? Shahrukh-Airtel Vs. Sehwag-ki-maa-Reliance ? (Hutch is not Indian i think)

  3. and the biggest turn off in this movie is the song "o sikandar"

    evidently a 3 yr old kid has put together the lyrics

  4. which indian mobile companies are reigning, i can recall even a single indian mobile manufacturing company.

  5. hmmm...this movie wasnt really on my hitlist of must watch but now after reading ur review for some reason..feel like watching it..just to know why and how its been screwed up!

  6. I agree with anshuman,Rashmi is incorrect with her fact. But she has deciphered the bhandarkar formula very well. though i ve not seen the movie, but her reasoning that, "the masses have already seen such things, but this time its in allen solly..." I surely feel it will be a good watch...

  7. Did you see the latest India Today? IIPM is ranked Number 11 in the country!!!

  8. Overall a good watch...

    But yes, like Rashmi, I expected something else from the movie. The movie concentrated only on one aspect of corporate - corruption - and only one way of functioning of corporate - unethical. There was no focus on how, besides corruption and bribing, these corporates work.

    I would say the movie is not that unique - "first time in Indian cinema types" - as it was projected and I expected it to be. But some things are projected really well.

    May not be fully unique, but its a well made movie, all actors have done justice to their parts, deserves 3.5 stars.

  9. I think the movie is really well made. One should not try to generalize things based on what is shown in the movie.
    In my opinion what director is trying to tell is that in today's cut throat competition when the stakes are very high, to the amount of hundreds of crores, executives can go to any extent for success.
    The biggest lesson here is one should never try to mix professional and personal life. If you are doing business then do only business. I would give 4 stars to CORPORATE...

  10. i got whiffs of woman-get-your-fat-butt-back-into-the-kitchen from the movie. i thought it was a horrid exercise in pontification.

  11. Nice yest to catch up on the movie..but the review gives a nice preview!!..

  12. Hi, hope you and all your loved ones are safe. please do let us know that you are safe!

  13. some uncommon reviews coming for this movie and it seems like i'll end up watching the movie if it screens here inside the multiplex here inside my campus :D

    you didnt hear of Minissha - she acted in a rather very well shot movie Yahaan and if the reports are to be belived - hse has been shooting three others whilst this blog was published.. she had acted very well in that movie and i know exactly why you didnt hear of the movie before - it was released this time last year when mumbai was under floods and so, you see - the movie suffered.. it was awesome direction and superb music - grab a cd/dvd if you can and watch it..

    iipm no. 11 - omg.. heard that outlook is out with its own ranking - any words on that?

  14. Hi,
    After Page 3, I had Madhur Bhandarkar figured out as someone who shows the movie-going audience that all "high-society" ppl are loose, coz that's wat the movie-goer wants to see.
    And expected Corporate to be more or less on the same shallow lines. (all "high-class" career women are loose)
    Ur review gives quite a refreshing perspective.
    Nice blog

  15. Walked into the theatre expecting Corporate to be a Page 3 and was not disappointed at all.Of course,there are a few amateurish touches,But the movie as a whole makes up for them.Overall,A decent paisa-vasool movie.

  16. Wow! I rarely see such inteersting analysis done on Indian films. Most of the time the reviews are something like "great songs, catchy songs, beautiful heroine" etc. Well written piece.

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