Miss Lovely

Picture 11
Miss Lovely (Ashim Ahluwalia, 2014)

One thing that struck me vividly about Miss Lovely is how matter of fact it is about its subjects. When you think about a movie based on the underground porn industry of India, you usually expect a filmmaker to harp on the sex, violence and lewd acts of all of those involved, because they are daring subjects and as a director you’d be eager to push the button a bit too far. See, this is where filmmaker Anurag Kashyap usually always slips up. He gets so caught up in his own rebellion and his own boldness to strike a blow against pacifist Bollywood, that he turns his endeavor into one of irreverence (case in point: the second half of Gangs of Wasseypur, and the entirety of That Girl in Yellow Boots).

Ashim Ahluwalia however, mainly uses a “fly on the wall” approach in Miss Lovely, where we get more of a slice of the on-goings here and there while following the film’s central characters, the Duggal Brothers (Nawaz in a reliably good performance, and Anil George who is an absolute revelation). Whether it be a shooting sequence of a horror/porn pulp film, a backstage party with drinks and scantily clad “aspiring actresses” or Sonu traveling around searching his “dream girl”, we never stick to find out too much of a single situation because like the guerrilla style of shooting that C-grade filmmakers must use for avoid police confrontation, they daily lives are equally as kinetic and paranoid. The camera will move from one subject to another trying to give us the most teasing bits and pieces of the behind the scenes of a dark, ugly, but pleadingly honest industry.

The movie flows at a very languid pace, and fuses many of the elements of India’s underground C-grade films with those of European Art-cinema. Ahluwalia however, balances these two elements with mastery, creating a world unto its own, one that takes us down a dark rabbit hole into an industry and community to alien to what we are used to, so diametrically opposed to what we assume Indian cinema is, that it makes us at once, afraid but also wildly curious. Through its patterns, textures, light and dark, Miss Lovely is a foreign film and an Indian film, about a foreign world residing within India itself. It may take a while for many avid Indian-film watchers to digest the movie, just because it is so different from anything that Hindi cinema has come out with in a long time. I felt the same feeling after this film that I felt after watching Satya for the first time… it’s going to take time before people (including myself) realize this film’s greatness, but greatness is certainly where the movie is ultimately destined to go.


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