Ek Chhotisi Love Story
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Wednesday 11 September 2002
Ek Chhotisi Love Story
Manisha Koirala, Aditya Seal, Ranvir Shourie
For all those expecting to see earth-shattering sex scenes in this film, Ek Chhotisi Love Story is sure to be a damp squib. A blatant copy of Krzysztof Kieslowski?s A Short Film About Love (1989), director Shashilal Nair?s film about a teenaged boy?s obsession with a much older woman may have become the new millennium?s most publicized Hindi film, but alas, it fails to live up to those mammoth expectations.
The film, though it has an unusual subject when compared to the stereotype Bollywood formulae, it fails to impress as the slow pace combined with the unimpressive performances slacken it completely. The story is about a young boy (Aditya Seal) approaching his 15th birthday. His parents leave to the US pursuing careers leaving him behind with his grandmother (Saroj Bhargav) in India. Soon, the lonely boy?s focus shifts to a 26-year-old woman (Manisha Koirala) who lives across their apartment. He trains his telescope to secretly follow her movements. He synchronizes his life with hers: eats when she eats, sleeps when she sleeps and cries when she cries. But the woman is unaware of his existence. He makes clumsy attempts to steal her attention but in vain. The boy starts getting jealous of her boyfriend (Ranvir Shourie), who visits her often. And one fine day he musters the courage to confess his love to her, and that he had been watching her, leaving her zapped. The story could have been handled better but unfortunately it has ended up a sleazy, exploitative mess. Firstly, Manisha looks far from someone who any teenager would lust so badly after. She?s fat, unkempt and her hippie-ish get up makes her look completely undesirable. She works in a music shop, has a kinky lover with whom she shares an exciting pre-marital sex life and strangely there are no curtains in her home. The teenager is a voyeur while the spiky haired Manisha enjoys her exhibitionistic streak. So, why would any youngster who knows the score slit his wrists (????) for a woman who already has a lover? There are some unbelievable scenes like when the boy calls the fire brigade to stop their lovemaking session. Also, why does Manisha suddenly turn the table, getting obsessive about the youngster even after coming to know of his immature perverse plans?
Seeing the film makes the entire controversy almost foolish. Didn?t Manisha know what she was getting into while making the film? She?s made a mountain of a molehill as the duplicate?s naked scenes almost go unnoticed in the film. Technically, ?ECLS? is a very mediocre film. With low production values, the only saving grace is C.K Murlidharan?s cinematography. All the performances are weak especially that of Manisha, who fails to impress in the film. Plus, her spiky wig and tiny shorts make her look like she?s all set to give Guddi Maruti a run for her money. She may go on saying how the director cheated her, but watching the film, it becomes clear that she knew all along what exactly was happening. Nair has made a titillating desperate film, but unfortunately hasn?t been able to hold the pace enough to interest after the first few minutes. Overall, this is a sad attempt which would have surely gone unnoticed had the director and actressnot washed their dirty linen in public.