Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and has been doing the fest rounds since then. Finally, it’s all set to release this friday.
The official synopsis describes the film as follows – Set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry, MISS LOVELY follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid-1980s. Some of us saw the film at Mumbai Film Festival and loved it. A great atmospheric film which makes you feel claustrophobic and displays great filmmaking craft which is so rare in Indian cinema.
In this post, Ashim takes us behind the scenes of the film and tells the story of making of the film through these 8 images. Do click on any of the pic to start the slide show and do watch the images in full size because even these stills capture the mood of the film so well.
PIC 1 – Nawaz (top left)
I was very lucky to cast Nawaz in his first leading role – he had struggled for ages and nobody would give him a lead, only character parts. I didn’t know who he was, but when he did the screen test he appeared so broken by the industry, so frustrated, with a lot of pent up anger, I was amazed. I realized that he was, in real life, just like my character Sonu Duggal – who is also very unfulfilled, working like a donkey for his dominating elder brother.
PIC 2 – DoP, Horror film set (top right)
My DoP is Mohanan. He shot my first film, John & Jane. We are like brothers separated at birth. He gets me – we discuss stock, processing, colour temperature, texture, framing – and we are almost always on the same page. Miss Lovely is in some ways about the end of celluloid, the end of cinema as we know it – so I didn’t want to shoot digital – it needed to be on film. I wanted Miss Lovely to look like it was shot on the (now unavailable) Indu stock of the 1980s. F**ked up, warm, grainy, with a very particular desi look. He thought I would ruin his career with all the Ramsay Brothers gels that we were using, but I think that he now feels very proud, like this is one of the more beautiful films he has shot.
PIC 3 – Cat fight. Crowd (2nd from top right)
We don’t have enough cat fights in our films anymore and I kind of miss that. This is a scene where two actresses – Poonam and Nadia – get rough with each other. Poonam is from a previous generation, she’s had her time, and Nadia is young and all set to replace her. Nadia is wearing an outfit straight out of a silk smitha film. Unfortunately, they actually started fighting and it got out of hand. Nawaz tried to separate them and got slammed into the mattebox of the camera. He was bleeding – it was stressful to shoot this scene.
PIC 4 – Movie on screen
Everything was shot on location. We were trying to recreate a Bombay of the mid-1980s that is also the Bombay of mid-1980s cinema. You will get it if you’re from a certain kind of background. I wanted quintessential Hindi cinema—the villains by the pool, the cabaret. Miss Lovely is an architectural film—it’s my kind of Bombay film, in a way.
It’s virtually impossible to recreate 1980s Bombay since there’s almost nothing left. Forty per cent of our locations have been knocked down.
The times were flash but also faded. We spent a lot of time dipping costumes into tea and deteriorating them. I wouldn’t let anybody take a shower or wash off make-up. I wanted things to look lived in.
PIC – 5, 6, 7 (Nawaz on bed, Anil George with crowd, Legs on top)
Shooting a fake porn scene at the Darukhana ship breaking yard was not easy. We didn’t have permission and while we were shooting the police raid where Sonu gets arrested, all the dock workers showed up to watch the shoot. They saw cops (who were actors in costume) chasing a woman covered only in a bedsheet and a guy in his underwear and thought that there was something serious going on. They thought we were TV crews covering the real event. I decided to include the actual crowd in the scene without them realizing it – it was total madness, an almost riot-like situation, but I am most happy with this scene.
PIC – 8 (Niharika on the sets)
Both Nawaz and Niharika were frustrated with the industry when I met them. I didn’t know either – I just screen tested them. Niharika had shot two Himesh Reshimmiya films that had been shelved. She was fed up waiting to be a heroine and was ready for something new. Her character Pinky is a struggling actor, who is also very exhausted trying to make it – so like Nawaz her real life overlapped a lot with her character in the film.
– To know more about the film, cast and crew, click here.