Sudhish Kamath's Pad On The Net

Not A Love Story: Did a horny midget shoot this film?

Genre: Drama

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Cast: Deepak Dobriyal, Mahie Gill, Ajay Gehi, Neil Bhoopalam, Zakir Hussain

Storyline: A possessive boyfriend pays his aspiring actress girlfriend a surprise visit, finds a naked man at her place and kills him in a fit of rage and the two decide to clean up the mess

Bottomline: Part fact, part fiction, partly engaging, partly pornographic

Why would a filmmaker go all out to stick to details of real incidents (including geography, time, modus operandi and circumstances, also acknowledging the building that was the scene of crime) if he really wanted to take creative liberties with the consequence of it all to manufacture a twisted love story when the reality of the case is much richer than the clichés he has had to resort to?

While it can be argued that RGV’s fiction probably goes deeper into the reality of murder itself, there’s no doubt that the filmmaker was in such a hurry to make a sympathetic film before the judgement that he got social subtext of the case quite wrong. People will do anything to protect themselves, even if it means turning your back against love, Mr. Varma.

Meenal Baghel, the author of the book ‘Death in Mumbai,’ who has documented the Neeraj Grover murder in her book, raises a pertinent question. Though Maria was Jerome’s girlfriend, did she really love him? Even after her release, Maria has maintained that she’s not close to Jerome.

The casual sex angle is given filmy legitimacy as an act of thanksgiving by a helpless aspiring actress to the man to gave her a break and the love story between the accused lovers has been romanticised for the screen with absolutely no depth whatsoever, given the heinousness of the crime and the scarring consequences it could potentially have.

Instead of giving us that compelling, intense, psychological drama, the film chooses to linger up the skirt and down the blouse, with a pointless sense of perversion. The crotch-obsessed camera does not spare any man, woman or delivery-boy as unflattering bottom-angle shots distract from the emotional quotient. It’s tragic when the actors (Poor Mahie Gill is exploited with the shortest skirts and Deepak Dobriyal is reduced to playing an obsessed psychotic nut) are going all out, even if they are a little too loud than they ought to be.

While Ram Gopal Varma usually revels in crime stories given his intimate portrayals of the underworld (in Satya and Company), the only intimacy we see here is the underworld that’s below the belt. Why would any non-porn filmmaker repeatedly choose to go that close to legs throughout the film unless he has a midget crew running around with cameras unable to make eye-contact with actors?

The love story itself (written by Rohit G. Banawlikar), despite all its ambitions of projecting the love the accused shared (the film ends with text that informs us that they WANT to be killed together!) ends up looking like a passionate tale of inexplicable lust with the frequency that the boyfriend hogs her face. There is no tenderness or warmth in this love, just jealousy and lust.

If the film is somewhat watchable in between all the frequent distraction and constant assaults on aesthetic, it is only because of the inherent drama in the situation – the murder, what led to it and what happened after it.

If you set aside your basic urge to know what led to the murder, there’s very little that the film offers. It’s tabloid recreation, a sensational, titillating reconstruction of events that’s glossed over by a cosmetic psychological study and killed by sheer romanticism. In the hands of a more sophisticated filmmaker and any half-decent cinematographer (this film was shot by students), this is a story that could have ripped your heart out.

Too bad it lost focus chasing the skirt.

(A polite version of this review appeared here)

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