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Not a Love Story review: Intermittently engaging

Not a Love Story review: Intermittently engaging

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Saturday 20 August 2011

Movie Title

Not a Love Story review: Intermittently engaging

Director

Ram Gopal Varma

Star Cast

Mahie Gill, Ajay Gehi, Deepak Dobriyal

Ram Gopal Varma's recent films include Rakht Charitra (he chose to torture his audience with two parts), Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Rann, Agyaat and Phoonk. Many of these films have been derided and rejected.

Where is the director who gave us Satya and Rangeela, people wondered. From a director who was known to push the boundaries, Varma has come to be known as one who is sensationalist, thriving on films inspired by front-page headlines.

There is a sense of trepidation in going to watch an RGV film. For this writer, the worry was the exploitation of this controversial case by the director. To an extent, the niggling doubt was confirmed. The film is disturbing, and not just because of the crime.

In this film about a very unfortunate crime, it's distasteful the way the camera's gaze never shies away from peeking into the heroine's blouse or skirt. We are shown unnecessary lingering shots of the heroine's legs, underclothes, and chest. Ramu has always hyper-sexualized his heroines, but this is utterly exploitative and unacceptable.

On the other hand, the director has shown restraint in labelling people. He refuses to demonize anybody, and instead, keeps the canvas grey.

We meet Anusha Chawla (Mahie Gill), who has arrived in Mumbai to make it in films. The opening song is dedicated to her as she happily plays with a child on the road, and earnestly gives auditions, her eyes restless with ambition.

Despite being furiously determined to make it as actress, Anusha refuses a dream role where the director wanted to get too close. You like her instantly. Can she really be a murderer or even an accomplice?

The viewer is likely to be filled with such questions, and you realise the film is working and pulling you in. From what the film tells you, Anusha's principal fault is getting involved with the wrong man. With a passion that's hardly normal, Deepak Dobriyal's bulging-eyed Robin is frightening for his obsessive nature.

Having just bagged a project, Anusha is partying with her gang and a new friend Ashish (Ajay Gehi). An executive with a production company, Ashish, impressed with her audition, had put her on the shortlist and she was eventually selected for the part.

After the party, he drops her home and stays the night. The next morning, her hot- headed boyfriend arrives and the roller-coaster begins.

Shot like a horror film, Varma uses eerie camera angles and an ear-splitting background score to up the chills. The second half turns into a courtroom drama that appears written in a hurry. With the uncontrollably fidgety camera, the film never stops to catch its breath, and therefore does not offer any perspective.

Director Ram Gopal Varma isn't interested in digging that deep anyway. The bizarre ending is the undoing of the film - not because it's open-ended, but because it serves as a total disconnect from the story.

Looking at it dispassionately and without drawing parallels with the Neeraj Grover case, Not A Love Story is intermittently engaging. Varma's unnecessary close-ups of the heroine's form are certainly alarming and distasteful.

So yes, the film is no great shakes. But it's an alright thriller with a few moments that definitely unnerve you.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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