Movie Review: Bollywood Diaries

Nine out of ten Indians would have dreamt of making it big on the silver screen. Such is the impact of Bollywood on our lives [which is so ingrained in our psyche with the lives of actors and actresses over-riding our daily dose of editorial intake], that, inadvertently, one starts thinking of becoming another success story on screen like that of Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan—outsiders who made it big, with name fame and money!

But not every ‘Want-to-make-it-big-in-Bollywood’ story ends like that of Dharam, Big B or SRK. Thousands die a frustrating death every day. This is what first-time director K D Satyam brings on screen: the desire, the hunger and the ‘will-go-to-any-lengths’ attitude, to get noticed.

We have seen movies on Bollywood, but from a different perspective, of those who made it big, despite the odds. Bollywood Diaries celebrates the lives of millions of wannabe stars, whose dreams were torn asunder and whose lives came crashing down. There is no luck by chance here!

Satyam revolves his story around three characters

Vishnu (Ashish Vidyarthi) from Chhattisgarh takes voluntary retirement after his daughter’s marriage to pursue his dream of acting. He was a rising theatre actor in his school and college days but family pressure of a typical middle-class man had him focus on family instead of his dreams. Now, he has the time to pursue his dream. Amrish Puri and Boman Irani did that he tells his wife Lata (Karuna Pandey) who is aghast at his decision.

Mumbai is now his destination!

Imli (Raima Sen) a prostitute from Kolkatta is single-handedly raising a young daughter. She openly expresses her desire to be a Bollywood star. She throws herself on any client coming from Mumbai in the hope of landing a role. As such, many clients come to her saying that they are from the city of dreams, until one writer walks in to research for a script he is writing. Sundar (Robin Das) travels to Kolkatta and befriends Imli. She sees a light at the end of the dark tunnel. He writes her story and even suggests that after he goes back and speaks with the producer, he will ensure she acts in her story.

The stars are now shining brightly in her eyes!

Rohit (Salim Diwan) works in a Call Centre in New Delhi. His spare time, between calls, is used to further his ‘acting career’ as he dials various producers, directors and production houses to get his break. He even barges into five-star hotels when he learns of a shooting and ends up ‘auditioning’ for reluctant audiences. He gets his break in a reality show, the organizers of which promise him big things. However, they are only looking at their TRPs, while ignoring his ‘lack of talent’.

Rohit is mentally packing his bags for Bollywood!

How their lives impact the viewers is what Bollywood Diaries is all about. Satyam struggles towards the beginning as he tries to get the lives of the three protagonists together on a single platter. This bringing together is rather disjointed and jarring at times. Sundar’s entry in Kolkata is not in sync. He could have found a brothel in Mumbai. The first half leaves you a bit confused. But come the latter half, and Satyam fuses together his plot, leaving you breathless at times as he hammers out the frustrations of Vishnu, Imli and Rohit.

When Vishnu learns that his dream will not be fulfilled, he goes nuts. He wants to be reborn in an actor’s home. This is craziness at its height, captured well by Satyam. An image of Amitabh Bachchan looking quizzically at him from his Khaki poster as he lies dying, chanting

Om Mumbai bollywood stayanarayana namah, is serious in its intent although it displays craziness beyond explanation. Ashish brings in his experience to portray his frustration.

Salim Diwan shines bright in Bollywood Diaries

Rohit going nuts towards the end when the judges tell him exactly how they feel about him, is brilliant. Both the scenes—at the reality show after his act with the judges and the after-effects of the opinion and his wondering of what will now happen to him—are honest. Salim brings the house down with this one act of his. To pull off a good act on screen requires talent. But to pull off an act where you have to portray that you cannot act requires immense talent. Good job, Salim!

Imli is heart-broken after losing her investment in Bollywood. Her move to Dubai, resigning herself to her fate, going through the motions in life is portrayed with underplayed emotions. Raima Sen starts off hesitantly, but as the movie progresses she immerses herself into her character to give out a fine performance. Her transformation in looks and performance as a prostitute in Kolkata to her scorching new avatar in Dubai also displays her mind-set. The problem with Raima is that, at most times (in her movies), she lets her character be. She needs to ‘be there’ like she is in the latter half of the film to do justice to her talent.

Reel vs real in Bollywood Diaries

The reality show part when the camera crew visit Rohit’s house gives you that “I-know-this-scene-feel’. The judges (Ekavali Khanna, Mohit Tripathi and Manish Shankar) take time to grow on you. The female anchor Poorva Neeraj deserves a special mention for her act where she conveys the ‘angst’ of the moment with the judges with her powerful body language.

Bollywood Diaries is a honest film with a great connect, and although the build-up gives you that disjointed feeling, it packs a punch towards the end. If there has been a time in your life when you had harbored hopes of being a part of Bollywood, or still wanting to make it big in Bollywood, then this movie is definitely for you.

The three star rating is for the honesty in the script and the final salvo fired on screen by Satyam.

Rating: 3 / 5

Martin D’Souza

This first appeared on on February 26, 2016

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