Miss Lovely

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on September 19, 2012

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Dear K.U. Mohanan

Dear K.U.,

For the first 30 minutes, you had me eating out of the palm of your hand. The seedy underbelly of Bombay's film industry in 1986, where porn films are secretly shot and smuggled into select cinemas, has all the grime and gritty texture you could ask for in a mystery. The film initially feels like Boogie Nights Bollywood, but not just for the subject matter. Your cinematography is truly in the same league as Robert Elswit -capturing all the right details and reflecting a cold distance between the characters, while looking especially authentic in the films-within-a-film. And then something strange happens - the titular Miss Lovely enters the story and somehow ruins everything.

To be clear, this has nothing to do with the way you shot lead actress Niharika Singh, nor is it a criticism of her abilities as an actress. But her entire character feels like a secondary distraction from the crimes and murder that compel us early on. The screenplay half-heartedly sets up the story as if it will be her descent into this dangerous lifestyle, but director Ashim Ahluwalia feels strangely uninterested in aggressively pursuing this story or one involving a murder early in the film, much like his surrogate director within the film, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The narrative becomes unfocused and often meanders with an artistic sensibility that seems opposed to generating any emotion. By the time secrets are revealed, they lack any punch and unintentionally add to the confusion.

Too bad, because this film was looking so good.



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