If you are craving for something different from the usual Bollywood trash, ensure that you buy tickets for Love Sex aur Dhokha. The film isn't anything like what you have seen on the silver screen before. But be forewarned. Dibakar Banerjee's film is meant to be seen--and savoured--by shedding all your mothballed beliefs about how commercial cinema must or must not be. Like the 3D glasses that gave me a whole new kick out of James Cameron's Avatar, here too, you need a new kind of vision to understand how a breed of young, professionals are hell bent on pushing the envelope of traditional Bollywood and literally pulling out the rabbit from the hat. The rabbit? A completely new idiom that only the bold and venturesome can dare to enunciate.
The film works through three short stories which focus on contemporary India's attitude towards love and sex and it's unending appetite for voyeurism. In the first story two film institute students have to complete a diploma film which is their tribute to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. They fall in love, believing themselves to be a real-life Raj and Simran, much to the discomfort of the girl's conservative family. In the second film, a boy wants to make an MMS clip and uses the closed circuit television in a mall to meet his devious ends. But first, he must befriend a gullible girl and win her trust... before betraying it. In the third film, a TV journalist is sent on a sting operation by his TRP hungry employer. He must unveil the ugly underbelly by exposing the casting couch. His instruments: his spy camera, a small-time dancer who wants to cut a music video, any which way and an exploitative pop singer.
Of course, the box office does matter to them, as it does to everyone else. But unlike the rest, these restless filmmakers also believe that creativity isn't about bottom lines alone. There's a whole new Pandora that lies beyond the tried and tested terrain. The question here is: Do we let these Columbus-like Creatives voyage on into Noman's land or do we insist on demanding a new genre of cinema that simply blends with the butter in our popcorn?
Now that's a difficult choice, I do agree. But here's a suggestion: How about juggling the popcorn flick with the new edgy, avant-garde one that may neither be the laugh riot nor the sugar candy romantic-comedy you like to round up your weekend with. Instead, it might be that one watershed mark in movielore that might enter your diary as ''Films-to-see-when-I'm-bored-with-blah-blah-Bollywood''.
Hence, the importance of Love Sex aur Dhokha (LSD), a film that not only dares to take up every sleazy story that has grabbed the headlines of Indian newspapers in the recent past, it also endeavours to tell it differently. The film uses hand-held cameras as an integral character in the story, even as it narrates the entire plot through its jerky, shaky, intimate angles. So, you end up watching a painted toe nail, while the struggling dancer tries to seduce the pop singer or maybe, even the plaster-peeling ceiling, while a scuffle ensues on the floor of a mall. But, hey, the Director of Photography Nikos Andritsakis ensures the audience is always there, at vantage point, as the VVIP Voyeur. Could you ask for a better place?
Thematically, the film is a sledgehammer too. You'll find shades of every sex, love and crime scandal--Miss Jammu, Nitish Katara--Bharati Yadav, Tehelka's sting operation, the MMS clip and many more--you've closely read in the newspapers. Yet, kudos to the scriptwriters Dibakar Banerjee and Kanu Behl, who have steered clear of all moralistic judgmental pronouncements on the proceedings. The revulsion, the pathos and the hypocrisy of our middle-class morality springs out naturally, through restrained storytelling.
The other innovation of the film is its casting. Getting raw actors has proved to be a boon for the film and added a slice-of-life realism to the proceedings. The boy who lures the simple mall attendant, the lovers who see themselves in the Raj--Simran avatars, the desperate wannabe diva who oscillates between the good guy and the sleazy guy are completely believable with their surging hormones and sometimes shaky morals.
A word of caution: if you're going to watch LSD, DO NOT expect timepass entertainment. Think beyond the run-of-the-mill and see how Ekta Kapoor reinvents herself as the producer of contemporary Indian cinema's first full-blown experimental film.