01 April, 2010

Love, Sex aur Dhokha - a review, and some movies-related musings

This will be a weird review - mostly because I just saw the movie, and thoughts are just forming in my head about it. It is a brilliant movie, and I am hoping that writing about it will help me flesh out my opinions - and also start fruitful discussions, if I'm lucky.

So here goes: LSD consists of three stories. The first one, and to my mind the best, is the love story between a budding director at a film school and the actress in his diploma film. This diploma film itself borders on lameness, because it seems like regurgitated Yash Chopra stuff (and it is meant to be). Which presents a striking contrast with the real love story unfolding between the two protagonists in our movie. Those diploma film scenes are not a homage - rather, they're there to make a point, which is that the love story of our protagonists, unlike normal bollywood stuff, is shown in stark realism, which means things might not always happen as you expect.

The second story, also a pretty interesting one, although it gets bogged down in one or two unnecessary diversions at times (who's 'the committee'?), succeeds because it, too, is a pretty realistic tale of love. A store manager owes money to this 'committee', and the way to earn it is to make a 'scandal' video clip by recording his seduction of one of his employees. Of course, along the way, he falls in love with her, and he decides not to do it. The ending is pretty solid here too, although the first part had a truly brilliant one. The 'love story' is the sort of story we all know, like the first one. It's strength is in the realism. We know these characters, we've met them, they've fallen in love and behaved in this exact way. Which is why the film moves us - aside from the nice use of security cameras, not as a gimmick (digicams do feel out of place in certain sequences in the movie, but give the director a break, people. It's pretty hard to keep up the pretense that what we're watching for two hours is filmed on digicams without the characters bringing the cameras into sequences where they don't fit. The second story works somehow weirdly naturally in this respect - only four fixed-location cameras, and that storytelling. Brilliant.)

The third story is the weakest - it's the sort of story we ourselves might have thought of and executed - a typical sting-operations story. You don't want to know the details, you can fill them in. Although entertaining, it's been done before, and it's pretty hard (for me atleast) to identify with the characters when they are a sting operations journalist and a struggling model who does the field work for him. As I said before, LSD might have cliched stories but it wins because of it's stark realism - which doesn't work in the third part because I, atleast, haven't met such people. The third part is fun - but it lacks the ability to strike a chord with you like the first two did. It's sad when a movie ends with a whimper.

One more complaint I have about part three is that it has no real connection with the first two - it does kind of help set in motion the events that lead to the second part's goings-on, but not essentially. The first part, for example, crucially influences part two. It is a missed opportunity, in a way, because the second part also provides the emotional outlet for what the first's ending wreaked on us. The third one could've done the same for the second, but it doesn't. The ending of the second is a little unfulfilling - a contrast between what happened to the guy and the girl, and that's all. What about justice?

There I go. Asking for justice in a movie while lauding it's connection to reality, where of course there is no justice. But I don't mean the poetic sort of justice. I mean an emotional outlet, a catharsis, to our frustration, sadness and vibration of the heartstrings after they're pulled at and let go of - come on, don't leave them vibrating there. The second part lacks such an outlet, which doesn't do the brutally brilliant story at its centre - forgive me - justice.

It is an important film. It is well-written, well-executed and put together (for the most part, anyway), and, how can I forget, well-cast and well-acted. I really mean it with the last two. Our protagonists don't look like they're 30 and desperately trying to botox their way into the twenties - real youngters have these mannerisms and an awareness about them that older people don't. Heck, real people have little quirks and a naturalness that stars don't. See the movie to believe it. Watch the actors closely - haven't you seen others, in real life, in similar situations, behaving as nervously, or tenderly, or cruelly?

So it is an important film. I, in my naivette, continue to hope that mainstream bollywood starts casting such actors who look like people I know, and writes stories whose little nitty-gritties I have myself seen in real life. Maybe this film will encourage the mainstream to be more observant and less off-the-fucking-mark than they usually are in their potrayal of (cringe) 'Youngistan'. Or even Oldistan. Middle-aged-istan.

But really, I can imagine some production executive somewhere in a some skyscraper pooh-poohing my Statement Of Hopes and saying, but where is the market, buddy? See out normal bollywood movies, are they not entertaining? Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?

If only it was the job of movies to simply entertain us. Just to make us forget out shitty lives as we lose ourselves in the richness on-screen. Such contentless entertainment has a minor flaw, though, because when I step out of the theater, I am back again in the real world. It's exactly the satisfaction jerking off gives you - at the end of it, the painful realisation that, well, Alyssa Milano resides somewhere in hollywood, dude. The rich mahals and beautiful babes I see in the movies also reside out-of-reach in Juhu or whats-the-name Hill too, and what we get weekly in theaters are products of their self-indulgent masturbation.

"But why would I go to a movie," you'll say, "where at the end of two hours I feel more uncertain about my future, sadder, less encouraged, than before? You might be a masochist, but I am not." Well, I'm no sadist though. I wouldn't recommend Antichrist or Funny Games to you, because they might scar you for life (especially the former). My point is, two-hour brainless entertainment, while okay on the satisfaction scale, is a complete and utter waste of time. Why just be entertained by fake emotions and buildings, when you can be moved, shocked, and that long-latent underused creative-appreciation side of your brain might flicker a few times too? Why settle for entertainment when you can have... an experience? (Heh. That sounded positively PR.)

 But seriously. Bad things happen in this world. They always will. I know you don't need to be reminded of them while going on with your own stressful lives. Why would you pay for being reminded of them? But picture this: you go in, you identify with the characters, you loathe them, want to befriend them, get involved, get scared, get nervous, be happy, be sad, think wistful thoughts, fall in love with a character, wish only that life were not so meaningless as such injustice might happen to such a nice person, be reminded the real world isn't like that, but you see his near and dear do mourn him, or soothe him, help him, and think nostalgically of your own family and friends, and vow to be a better person from them on because being thought of so well is what life is all about isn't it? You might introspect, or extrospect, look at some person you know in a different way, or understand other people better, or maybe not. You might see the situation as it really is, it sucks doesn't it, but the way out is this way, maybe things will be better, why get stuck in this rut? Or heck, you might disagree, that movie was so bad, while your friends like it, and you will learn more about life from the discussions that follow.

I don't know. Maybe you'll just go a screening of an Akshay Kumar comedy, and come out exactly the same person, only a couple hundred bucks poorer. Right. Just a couple hundred. Those popkorn and icecream rates are a bitch.


  1. hmm. Popkorn is spelt wrong.
    But no, don't let me take it away. Brilliantly written. I've always wanted a retort to those who want 'two hours of mindless entertainment because what's the point of seing what you have in reality anyway' and you put it right there.

    I also loved the "There I go. Asking for justice in... " paragraph. You have just explained why I don't like The Pursuit of Happiness and Black. The catharsis is too late and too little.

    I'm getting the movie right away. :)

    PS: What a pleasure to read after that last poem.

  2. Mainstream Bollywood should wake up to the new breed of Indie film-makers who are not afraid of experimenting with the 'market for such films'. The average Indian movie-goer is, I am sure, starved for intelligent film-making and Bollywood discourages him from exploring movies that stimulate his senses. Though there are a number of examples of break-away movies (remember the art house cinema from the seventies?) that have done well, Bollywood still shies away from making them. It is time we have a new movement in Indian cinema, that sees the world as its market and that disassociates itself with Bollywood.