Picture this. A bunch of ready-to-titillate starlets, crude men waiting to pull out their ‘pistols’, rubber-faced monsters melting in blood, cranky beds on tawdry sets, shaky hand-held cameras and shady lighting. A few minutes later some loud moans and mews. Ahh! Lights, camera and crude carnal pleasures!
‘Miss Lovely’, unfolds with this premise, set in the Mumbai of 1980’s where sleazy, sex-horror films are mass-churned by the thriving C-grade movie industry, with depraved delight and unchaste ambitions. The strategy is simple. Vicky Duggal (Anil) and his production team (starlets need spot boys too!) shoots x-rated films in dozens, and then pimps the reels. His inglorious clientele (read: sexual predators) demand just one thing – besharam beauties that bare all. And Vicky promises to deliver ‘wholesome’ masterpieces with “Doh ghanto mein doh hazaar thrills!”
His younger bro, Sonu (Nawazuddin), one with a conscience, is unwillingly sucked into Vicky’s filthy world of ‘sex, lies and videotapes’. Sonu meets wannabe actress Pinky (Niharika) and falls in love; vowing to launch her in a romantic film called ‘Miss Lovely’ and make her a big star. Sweet love! But hereon, the story gets darker and murkier. Sonu pines for his sweetheart and Vicky plots for millions. And beneath the dirty sheets they both find a body of lies, deceit and disclosure. And their dreams blur into the ‘blueprint’ of their own shady designs.
Documentary filmmaker Ahluwalia has shot this film in a docu-drama style, with retro-arty feel, taking you into a blast from the past of a bygone era of ‘Purana Mandirs’ and ‘Bandh Darwazas’. Erotic to some, laughable to others. In a bold attempt, he’s even used real footage of 80’s C-grade films to add raunchiness to his pulpy fiction. Even better, some of the ‘extras’ are real actors from Bollywood’s underbelly. The film (which has done the rounds of various international film festivals), has expletives, bare (blurred) bosoms and background sounds that adds heaviness to the moods and makings of an interesting story. He uncompromisingly scores at recreating that.
But the plot unfolds at a lethargic pace, with long-drawn scenes filled in with few dialogues. Some crucial scenes lack the emotional depth and connect you’d expect, inhibiting us from empathising with the protagonists. Nawazuddin shines brilliantly even in the smoky shadows of this sexploitative world, Niharika and Anil play their parts well. The film is stylishly sleazy, that’s what works for it. Watch it for a retro-ride into the naked innards of a soft-porn world and its bared bosoms.
A sensational look at the sleazy C-grade cinema of sex, horror and smut in the Mumbai of 80s. And all its naked truths.
The Times of India