Friday, August 19, 2011

Not a Love Story 

Creep Show

The real life case was a shocker. An aspiring actress and her boyfriend killed and carved up a guy and burnt the pieces.  The two then went back to their normal lives--she even went along with friends of the dead man to file a missing complaint with the cops.  The media pounced on the story for its sensational value.  What ordinary law-abiding people could not understand was how someone could commit such a gruesome crime, and feel no guilt or fear.

Then, in real life,  the climax of the case was absurd--  she got away and he got a relatively light sentence. She had the nerve to call a press conference and look the world in the eye, so to say.  It is a one-off incident;  after the initial outrage, it was buried into insignificance and has had no lasting impact on society. But when you think about it, the sheer audacity and perversion of what happened continues to horrify.

Ram Gopal Varma’s Not a Love Story recreates the incident, not to try and understand the kind of society that has thrown up such desensitised people; all it achieves is a creepy kind of voyeurism and fuels a prurient interest – audiences in a suburban moviehall were laughing when actually their stomachs should have turned.

Then there’s the crazy, restless, circling of the camera, the relentless low angle shots focussing on the body of Anusha Chawla (Mahie Gill), who has persuaded her possessive boyfriend Robin (Deepak Dobriyal) to allow her to go to Mumbai to pursue a film career.

Varma makes Dobriyal play Robin with a look of madness to him, and a loutish way of speaking.  The director’s sympathy is with the girl, who sobs hysterically through the ordeal; and when she is slapped around by the cops, led by Mane (Zakir Hussain), it is as if the director wanted you to feel sorry for her.  But innocent though she may of the actual murder, she cannot be absolved of complicity.

Not for a moment does the film give pause for thought or reflection the way even the frenzied media reporting did.  It is a no-comments approach which might have been acceptable from a newbie director, not a filmmaker like Varma; his recent films may not have sent the cinema buff’s pulse racing, but still deserved a look.  This kind of film cannot or should not exist in a moral, social, emotional vacuum, or there’s no difference between an RGV film and any exploitative slasher flick. Of course, a filmmaker is free to make a tawdry slasher flick, but then why cannibalise a true story?


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