Lucy sure as hell ain’t in the Sky with Diamonds
Posted by Ronak M Soni on April 5, 2010
Written by Dibakar Banerjee and Kanu Behl
Directed by Dibakar Banerjee
Very early into Love, Sex aur Dhokha, I suddenly acquired the deep fear that even Dibakar Banerjee, whose Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! would figure in my list of the best Hindi films of the decade, was copying an English movie (Cloverfield). Cloverfield is basically a monster disaster movie, except that it is completely shot on a handy cam (for those interested, David Bordwell explains here the intricacies of its form). It looked like Banerjee was doing the same thing, except his job was easier, because of his framing concept of ‘reality cinema’ which allowed him to splice any way he wanted.
In the beginning, we are informed about the revolutionary new concept of ‘reality cinema’, in exactly the way it would be announced if it was true. The rest of the movie is split into three (interlocking) vignettes, all of which contain meditations on the moral questions posed by the reign of the digital camera, interleaved with the influence of Bollywood.
The first vignette contains Rahul, a Film School student who idolises Aditya Chopra and is making as his diploma film one based on the latter’s wildly popular Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (The Lovers will take away the Women; Rahul is the name of the hero of this movie). Rahul, however, doesn’t confine his filming to the movie itself; he falls in love (at first Bollywood sight) with his heroine Shruti, and so starts filming large swathes of real life, in hopes of getting his own love story to be a movie like Chopra’s, in hope of eventually sending it to “Adi Sir” himself. The second contains Adarsh, who’s just set up a CCTV system for a store belonging to a relative and figures out that the best way he can solve his financial problems is by filming a sex tape and selling it; easy enough, except that he has real affection for the store attendant Rashmi he’s seduced. The third is about a reporter Prabhat who saves a woman Naina from killing herself and involves her in a sting operation.
The movie is full of Banerjee’s now signature shady morality, but there’s nothing very profound in it – unlike in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, which is a look at the sociological implications of being a well-known thief, thereby making a comment on Indian society and even Society in general. The biggest real compliment I can give it about its message is that it’s never preachy. Rahul, for all his illusions about life and art, is actually a very resourceful man, far from the starry-eyed zombie we would expect, and we can see why Shruti would fall in love with him; Adarsh is doing bad, but even Rashmi is basically whoring herself to him; and the third story is the only one with a truly ‘good’ character, the television reporter Prabhat, and even his basic good quality is his profound awareness of the murkiness of his own morality.
All this, finally, doesn’t always make for good cinema, despite Banerjee’s talent for framing his shots (one shot involves a leg in the immediate foreground, a man somewhere ahead, then his reflection, the the reflection of the woman whose leg it is, making a very mesmerising shot). All three vignettes get rather annoying in parts, and the only thing which stops me from dismissing this movie as an inferior version of Cloverfield is the epilogues, whose content I won’t reveal, which bring together all of the movie’s themes in its most hideous depth and then its most insane and farcical high.
‘Just Another Film Buff’ provides a detailed analysis of the film’s morality (with many spoilers, so there’s no point reading it unless you’ve seen the movie).