Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anil George, Niharika Singh
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Rating: Two stars
Ulp, shady ladies and shadier gents litter the scene out here. Gulp, the subject is the subterranean sex flicks industry in Pornywood of the 1980s. Moans-‘n’-groans supposed to be made on khatmal-ridden khatiyas are the quotient of retro-realism, till you want to shout out loud, “Guys, get a life!”
The titillation sought to be vended in Ashim Aluhwalia’s 'Miss Lovely' is strictly of the smirk-smirk variety, suffused with abstractions, cynicism and distractions, great for the international film festival circuit but so off-the-mark and shallow for anyone who has had a smidgen of interest in the C-graders of yore – yes those semi-nude clips which were once inserted in the Hollywood and European films, since the watchdogs of the Censor Board can’t possibly monitor the cinema halls, especially in the smaller towns and unmapped villages.
The nude-scene trade persists: for evidence, check out Ranbir Kapoor-Nargis Faqri getting their socks off in Rockstar in what looks like Delhi’s fading Moti cinema. Or just toodle into one of those video parlours in the bylanes. However the porn manufacturing industry isn’t anywhere close to Alhuwalia’s addled funky fantasy. For one, horror filmmakers are confused with the sexwallas. The Ramsay Bros who appear to be one of the reference points, command a cult following today. And even back in their heyday, their screamfests like 'Do Gaz Zameen ke Neeche' had been hosannaed by aficionados of mico-budget quickies.
A look back at the crude but near-ingenuous section of the sex film trade demanded an affectionate, investigative and insightful script. Instead you get a lurching drama about a youngish man (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) whose bigger bad brother (Anil George), is busy hacking out sleaze clips catered to a niche (neech?) audience. Aha, and can any plot move without that factor called love? Of course not, so Youngish Bro falls in love with one of the cheapie heroines (Niharika Singh) invoking the wrath of Bigger Brother.
Oh brother really, tell us another. That the women seem to be totally clueless or critical about their sexploitation, is just one more disturbing aspect of this arthouse effort. Eeesh. Admittedly, Miss Lovely (ironical title, get it?) has the mandatory qualities of an indie movie: smart camerawork, cool editing, blingy costumes, imaginative production design and a buzzy soundtrack. Moreover, unquestionably both Siddiqui and George are absolutely accomplished actors. As for Niharika Singh, she’s just about okay.
Piquantly, the under-publicised release of Karan Swaroop’s 'Om-Dar-Badar', 25 years after it was completed, underscores the point that they don’t make off-mainstream movies like O-D-B any more. It’s quirky, madcap and iconocolastic. By contrast, 'Miss Lovely' is just a load of xxx-cess. Skip!...