So, yeah, Hate Story exposes a lot – underneath Delhi’s surface, that is, not really, as the adverts so tantalizingly showcased, of leading lady Paoli Dam. The film instead blows the top right off the dirty deals, the, well, intercourse between different power spheres ruling India’s capital – business, politics, journalism, police, all meet in this slick flick. Depending on who you are, the intersections provide some pleasure – and lots of pain.
Hate Story starts with reporter Kavya (Dam) joining photographer-friend Vicky (Dwivedi) in exposing cement tycoon Siddharth Dhanrajgir (Devaiya) bribing a judge. Enraged, ‘Sid’ takes revenge – sweetly. Ignoring Vicky completely, he offers Kavya the sky if she works for him, letting him, as he terms it, use her talent. Remarkably, Kavya instantly agrees. Hugging a huffy Vicky goodbye, she leaps into Sid’s deals, winning him a biggie in Mumbai. As a result, the tycoon takes her to dinner – and to bed.
But it’s not quite as charmless as that – Sid makes love to Kayva in gentle rain, in fluffy duvets, in the shower, pouring her with expensive watches and a big diamond. Swept off her feet, Kavya’s in love – till Sid drops the honey-brush, slaps her one and throws her out of work with chilling contempt. She’s also expecting – but he’ll have none of it. A forced abortion follows after which her unconvincing ‘middle-class family’ (spot Pitaji by his red muffler) abandons her. Seeking revenge, Kavya approaches Delhi’s most plush and padded prostitute, demanding seduction classes. These last one hot little moment – but more sex with more men follows, all leading towards entrapping Sid within a web of truth and lies, exposing and exposes.
Interestingly, Hate Story isn’t just one woman hating one man – it’s also a tale of hateful deals, corruption, brutality and sleaze tiling the farmhouses fringing the capital, glistening in hotel bars, twinkling wickedly off the sunlight on the NCR’s corporate buildings. It would all be so interesting – if only deeper and tighter. Instead, we get little sense of the porcelain-faced Kavya’s torment, sliding from reporter to prostitute. We get even less sense of backup-BF Vicky’s feelings – while we get way too much of Delhi’s street-shots, wasted lines, lip-gloss thick as a moustache, bathrobes, jacuzzis and cars, all burdening Hate Story by about 30 minutes too many.
Underneath this, even the sex-scenes sag – the frontbenchers clap most wildly not at Dam’s bare back when she’s riding Sid’s brother Raj, but at a Haryanvi cop telling her when arrested for Raj’s murder, “Kuch kapde pehen lete toh theek hota.” Better acting and more music under-wiring this plot would’ve helped – the only memorable melody is the velveteen lament ‘Dil kaanch sa’, layering Kavya’s trauma after Sid’s brutality.
But there are pluses too – Devaiya stands out as a stammering little egomaniac and the electricity between him and Dam crackles. There are memorable shots – Dam staring with agonised eyes at Sid’s office while having car-sex with a stranger outside, a moment of acute tension when she meets Raj’s wife in court. One more encounter follows – but let’s leave something to the imagination. Appreciate, if you will, the thriller, not the diet-erotica – that’s rather an anti-climax.
Journalist Kavya Krishna loves tycoon Siddharth – who uses and abuses her. How far will Kavya go to get revenge?