Ashim Ahluwalia with his Film ‘Miss Lovely’ goes for an experimental style which is rare to Indian Cinema. It has everything that a Bollywood audience does not expect. The film has a story line that would have made for a perfect bollywood potboiler.
It’s lurid, it’s brave. Miss Lovely takes the Bollywood idiom on a never before trajectory, serving a slice of cinema obviously not for all. This film can’t and won’t win mass applause despite its subject – Bollywood’s horror-n-porn industry of the ’80s – if only for its discomforting dark strains. Even though Bollywood has portrayed the dark lanes of parallel cinema , it is for the first time that these dark lanes are ventured and it reaches you. So the experience of watching this type of film makes you un comfortable , painful , horrible instead of enjoying the film.
In short The film has been touted as a ‘bold attempt’ that drew censor clamor for 157 cuts. it was introduced as a true-blue definition of Indian cinema’s changing face at Cannes 2012 (where it drew mixed response).
Miss Lovely has an experimental narrative style, it borrows the settings of 1980’s Mumbai. The opening credits of the film as well as the climax song, all reflect the cinema of that era. There are two worlds in Miss Lovely – the real and the reel. The reel portions of the movie are heavily borrowed from the B-grade horror movies that were being made around that time. It is the ‘real’ world in the movie that is scary (not horror).
The film is brave because it uses the obviously alluring X-flick formula (sex, horror and gore) without actually using it for titillation as cinema of the genre does. Instead, it tries understanding the world of sleaze.
Ahluwalia and co-writer Uttam Sirur have done a credible job imagining the lowest depths of Mumbai’s film industry, which even Bollywood extends legitimate recognition.
At the same time, Ashim Ahluwalia’s film as an arty effort could draw a few frowns from the discerning crowd for its inherent lack of cohesive storytelling.
The ’80s setting introduces brothers Vicky (Anil George) and Sonu (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) as filmmakers doing brisk business hawking such fare. Vicky, the elder brother, has no principles whatsoever. He also mostly bullies sibling Sonu into following his diktats. Twist in the tale comes with Pinky (Niharika Singh). Sonu falls in love and starts dreaming of making Pinky a Bollywood star. He does not know Pinky has a sordid past, one that Vicky may be aware of.
Miss Lovely demands an intense mind frame on the part of its viewers given its overall bleak mood. The film also seeks patience to keep track of a narrative that gets lazy at times.
The conflict the screenplay sets up between the brothers may seem predictable.
It works because Ahluwalia sets it up in an unusual backdrop and tells his tale differently. There is an obvious effort on the part of the film to leave you in a state of discomfort, so that the well-researched plot is fully appreciated for what it is worth.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s effortless acting breathes life into the film when the going gets too heavy.
He who has acted in this film before his much acclaimed performances in Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahani and Peepli Live, is effortless in his portrayal. The actor keeps his face straight most of the time and limits his expressions. He lets his body language talk. He breaks into sweat when he’s doing something wrong, he doesn’t blink his eyes when he falls in love.
Newcomer Niharika Singh adds a dash of mystique to the miserable Pinky. She makes a confident debut with this film and her performance is very natural. It doesn’t appear it’s her debut film. Her character has many layers and she does justice to each one of them
Anil George is a revelation, we sure hope we get to see him more often. He is a lusty, greedy filmmaker of C-grade cinema slips into his character with aplomb. He doesn’t go overboard with drama, yet makes an impact, which is a commendable trait