At the outset if you are expecting Sex and skin from this film, be prepared for a dhokha (betrayal). Donât let the theme of voyeurism mislead you into believing that Dibakar Bannerjeeâs Love Sex aur Dhokha is a cheap gimmickry to titillate your senses. The film is bold, bare, intense, stark and dark but Bannerjeeâs storytelling is so superlative that it stimulates your senses without having to resort to tawdry elements.
At several levels, Love Sex aur Dhokha is at par with some of the best titles in world cinema in terms of its treatment. Like The Blair Witch Project or the more recent Paranormal Activity , the âentire runtimeâ of the film happens to be video footage shot on handheld camera by one or the other member of the cast. But neither is the genre horror, nor is the feel docu-drama! Rather the film follows a hyperlinked storytelling pattern to come up with three individual episodes of voyeurism that intersect intermittently to form a non-liner narrative. One of the best films in this format is the less-popular Irani gem Ashkan The Charmed Ring and Other Stories and Love Sex aur Dhokha comes quite close to the masterpiece with respect to the storytelling genius. A dark sanguinary scene (in the otherwise lighthearted film) reminds of the Filipino film Kinatay which had a prolonged body-butchering sequence.
But despite all these global references, Love Sex aur Dhokha is absolutely original in its content and canât be remotely inspired by any of these recently released titles. The referential analogy is just to corroborate how director Dibakar Bannerjeeâs intellect is in sync with the best works around the world. While the prose of his story is splendid, the grammar of his storytelling is superlative that adds to the beauty of the film.
The narrative opens in three different subplots. The first has a final year college student Rahul (Anshuman Jha) gearing up for his diploma film which ends up being a shady spoof on DDLJ. Through the filming process he falls in love with the heroine of his film (Shruti) with whom he elopes and gets married. The second has a tech-savvy store manager Adarsh (Raj Kumar Yadav) attempting to woo the store salesgirl Rashmi (Neha Chauhan) to secretly film her in a sexual act on the store security camera. The third has a journalist Prabhat (Amit Sial) who rescues a girl Mrignaina (Arya Devdutta) from her suicide attempt and subsequently prepares her for a sting operation against the countryâs top pop star Loki Local (Herry Tangri).
The first story starts on a comical note with a satirical shade and just when you think the entire episode is frivolous, it ends with a bang and hits so hard on your senses that you might not want to gulp down anything in the interval. The second story is almost a predecessor to the MMS episode that Anurag Kashyup filmed on Kalki Koechlin in Dev.D . It details the entire modus operandi and motivation behind the making of the sex clip. The third highlights the regular casting couch syndrome in glamour world along with the equally unethical sting operations devised by the manipulative media channels. Each episode in Urmi Juvekarâs story is derived from sensational headlines of national dailies and is well-sketched. But you admire the real beauty when you notice the correlation of each subplot with the other. The screenplay by Dibakar Bannerjee and Kanu Behl is designed like a game of jigsaw puzzle where your excitement rises the more you get close to assembling the interlocking pieces as the final picture becomes clearer at every step.
As mentioned earlier, the entire runtime of the film happens to be video footage shot on handheld camera by one or the other member of the cast. This happens to be its major highlight since unlike Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project ; Love Sex aur Dhokha is not a single-setting film but has three subplots. Nevertheless the director justifies the use of camera in each episode and not once does it appear that the video footage is forced to take the story forward. This fact also amazes as to how a video camera is no more a sophisticated gadget and has become a common element and an integral part of everyday life in present-day society.
Dibakar Bannerjee shows his versatility as a director with his diverse choice of subjects but one aspect that he retains from his earlier attempts is the trademark Delhi flavour that comes across in the dialogues, characters and setting of the film. Cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis maintains the callowness with his unstable camera moments to add authenticity to the handheld camcorder sequences. Namrata Rao efficiently edits the cross-connections in the stories to amazing outcome. Sneha Khanwilkarâs music is as unconventional as the film with a rollicking title track by Kailash Kher.
The entirely new cast acts as an added advantage to the narrative of the film because with their relatively unknown faces you donât tend to recognize their presence at first glimpse in subplots where they arenât the focus. The performance from every member of the cast is absolutely brilliant. Anshuman Jha is unassumingly hilarious. Raj Kumar Yadav is expressive, especially when he brings out his jealousy pangs on seeing his girl getting friendly with another guy. Neha Chauhan is amazing in her breakdown sequence and the director uses her raw sex-appeal to good effect. Amil Sial (last seen in Hope and a Little Sugar) efficiently plays the straight-faced journalist. Arya Devdutta perfectly exemplifies a wannabe starlet and Herry Tangri plays a pop icon pretty well. The actor who plays father in the first story and the girl who plays Rashmiâs colleague in the second story deserve special mention for doing absolute justice to their typical characterizations.
Love Sex aur Dhokha shouldnât be restricted with tags like experimental, offbeat, path-breaking, low-budget or multiplex cinema. While it happens to be all of these, it goes beyond with its smart story and superlative storytelling to be a brilliant and entertaining film. This autobiographical account of a camera is absolutely recommended!
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