Hindi Film review
Film: Miss Lovely
Miss Lovely Movie review: A rather dismal dark take on Bollywood’s underbelly
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh, Anil George, Zeena Bhatia, Sonal
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Rating: * * *
A less than illuminating(too many dark and un-satisfyingly lit sequences) saga about the dark and inhuman depravity rampant in the back-end side of glitzy Bollywood. This is documentary filmmaker Ashim (‘John and Jane’)Ahluwalia’s maiden attempt at feature cinema and he just about makes the transition count. It’s differently color coded. There’s a dark heaviness that hangs around every sequence and even the supposedly well-lit ones do not make for a suitable contrast. It’s a technique adopted keeping in mind the dreary, sordid world that the film seeks to draw you into. Set in the late 1980’s , where the back-enders of mainstream, glitzy, Bollywood sought to augment their living through pornographic endeavors that eventually caused them to self-destruct. It’s a film about exploitation and the underbelly of bollywood lies painfully exposed.
For those who have seen that seamier side in Adarsh Nagar and Antop hill, this film is definitely likely to raise nostalgic memories. For those who are yet clueless, this could well be a revelation of sorts.
Miss Lovely actually started life as a non-fiction project before evolving into a more artful kind of heavily stylized drama. Unfortunately, the treatment is such that it is not in the least bit affecting. Ashim Ahluwalia’s indulgence towards set-piece visuals framed in darkness and set in realistic, harsh, unrelenting backdrops is a little heavy on the senses. This film is neither mainstream, gimmicky or parallel in it’s treatment-rather, it’s an art-house effort that seeks to present a dismal , unrelenting picture of the sexploitative industry that sprung-up in the mid to late 80’s , catering to the baser tastes of audiences starving for a regular diet of titillating naked bodies and SEX.
The dramatic heft is missing though. Spanning the years from 1986 to ’92, a time when the low-lying semi-porn, porn industry gained renewed life, the film centres around two brothers and unequal partners in crime, Vicky(Anil George) and Sonu(Nawazzuddin Siddiqui) wannabe Bollywood producers who bide their time before the xought after ‘Big’ time, with cheap sex and horror fill-ups made on shoe-string budgets situated in dismal shady surroundings. Vicky is the master-mind of the outfit and he’s sleazy and opportunistic and uses his dim-wit brother Sonu to facilitate most of his carnal sexploits. In the film’s most defining scene Sonu suddenly turns over –into a more aggressive avenger calling attention to the biggest dramatic movement in this otherwise comatose representation.
This film manages an accurate visual capture of that disreputable subculture but it’s not equally evocative or immersive. The widescreen lensing of Mohanan is mostly grotesque and visually demanding – so though it manages to capture Bombay’s seamy underbelly, it does so in a fashion that is quite unedifying. Shots are created through screens, windows and wafting plumes of smoke- which leaves the viewer with much less than a complete picture. The production design is remarkably eloquent though. The color-faded Kodak stock and 1980s costumes and hairstyles create a recognizably world converging towards infamy.
There’s a distance that springs up right from the opening scene, between the audience and the film, that stays right through it’s runtime. So the involvement is at best rudimentary. Performances are all remarkably underplayed so you are unlikely to find any melodrama or heightened emotions on display here. This film is mainly for those who have the time and are willing to try something different from the run-of-the-mill!