24 February 2010 | Peter_Young
The dark page
Page 3 is one of those films Madhur Bhandarkar makes to expose societal filth. The film is compelling, but, like most of Bhandarkar's films, it is one-sided and overly pessimistic. This film is all about tabloid journalism, gossip, celebrities. The film exposes the lives of socialites, whose lifestyle is disastrously boastful, peculiar and repulsive. They party, they care for nothing but fame, they plan parties at funerals, they are craving for more money and a higher reputation, they will do anything to get due exposure in the media, to get their names boldly printed on the daily newspaper's social column known as "Page 3" with huge photographs which will be the center of people's discussions. They are attention seeking, salacious and hypocrite. The film industry is shown as sleazy, with casting couch being a common phenomenon among filmmakers. That's where our lovely heroine, a young social column reporter Madhvi Sharma, is thrown. All these people from Mumbai's elite depend on her articles and she is the right person to befriend at these parties if you want her to mention you in her article. Later in the film we learn that even those who are Madhvi's friends are no different from these high-society people. This was tough viewing for me, although the film is unquestionably brave and the issues it deals with are interesting.
The film's music is average. The only passable songs are "Kitne Ajeeb" and "Huzoor-E-Ala", sung by the two melody queens Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, respectively. Otherwise the soundtrack is bad. One song which was particularly horrendous is "Filmy Very Filmy". The film's writing is quite good. The second half is far better than the first, as it turns more matter-of-fact and exposes much more important issues such as terrorism and child abuse. That's where the film has to be applauded. It was sad to know that people prefer to ignore such crimes out of fear and Konkona Sen Sharma's character's disappointment was very easy to relate to. She was excellent throughout the film and her acting in the last few scenes was particularly impressive. Atul Kulkarni's part was very small but he did full justice to it. Boman Irani is solid as the newspaper's editor. Sandhya Mridul is lovable as Madhvi's sassy roommate Pearl who marries an older man for money and is honest enough to admit it. The film's ending is really well-done, and provides a certain sigh of relief after the unimaginably tough proceedings. Page 3 is a good film, it is interesting and at times moving, but the level of its interest and its general quality are marred by its exaggerated, overly messy and negative portrayal of the rich and famous.