Posts Tagged ‘Miss Lovely’

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-profitable exercise.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely was easily one of the best films of the year. A film so strong in its atmosphere, it makes you feel you are in the middle of that era where the story is set. And that’s what sets this film distinctly apart from the rest. Smoke-filled rooms, garish costumes, sleaze in every corner – you could almost smell the walls and feel the claustrophobia of the B-movie world created by the filmmaker.

So thanks to Ashim Ahluwalia, we are the sharing the script of Miss Lovely. This is the original English version, without the Hindi dialogues.

In our “Best Of 2014” series, here are the other film scripts that we have shared so far – Ankhon Dekhi is here, Queen is here, and for Dedh Ishqiya, click here.

Film : Miss Lovely

Director : Ashim Ahluwali

Story : Ashim Ahluwalia

Screenplay : Uttam Sirur and Ashim Ahluwalia

Do click on the “Scripts” tab on the top right corner of the blog page to access all the other scripts that we have posted in the past.

Aseem Chandaver, or Baba Jogeshwari or Gina Kholkar on Twitter or Neelouli on youtube, or by whatever name you might know him, he is hands down the baap of all B-C Grade movie buffs that we know of. Working in Mumbai as a copywriter, the man is responsible for sifting through tons and tons of campy movies, selecting clips, uploading and sharing them in his spare time, purely for the joy and love of B-C Grade cinema. We thought it would be fitting to post what he thought of Miss Lovely and requested him for a review. So here it goes, Aseem on Ashim’s film –

Miss Lovely1

Since the global connection of interconnected computer networks is presently imploding with acute interest, unanticipated awe and limitless curiosity for the once shadowy genre of B, C & D-grade films, I thought since the past one and a half years that director Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely will uphold a sense of equilibrium by retaining the novelty, cleansing the category of all its amassed gloss and prolonging fandom through unseen and unheard tales of cinematic obscurity.

Well, I was wrong. Miss Lovely is definitely a new brand and flavor of soda pop, but without any strong hallmark fizz. An incredibly well-researched and chronicled film that leans on its experiential past without ever paying attention to the evidently weak screenplay and character extinguishes. A stalwart and his coerced unenthusiastic brother who falls in love with the struggling actress, asphyxiated in a subterranean world is not only captivating, but a ticking calm bomb set to explode when you least expect it. Instead of a pensive postmortem or even seeing the world through seedy filmmaking eyes, it does a staccato job of introducing you to half-baked and sometimes clichéd characters with anticlimax dialogues that literally deflate moments of visual narrative and accomplished story.

The film starts with a brilliant spook sequence, which even incorporates cleverly reconstructed POV shots from Director Baby’s B-Grade magnum opus House No. 13, a slight Desi rendition of the movie ‘The Poltergeist’. Ahluwalia’s profound knowledge of what the audience wanted and what psychoactive levels the filmmakers went to entertain those fantasies can be unmistakably seen here.

House No. 13 scene. Watch from 1:00:55 –

In the House No. 13 intro scene, just as the audience gets bored with the ghost being charred to flesh and dust, Ahluwalia reveals years old secret that made some of these films a runaway success. As the House No. 13 reel ends, there begins a Double X rated film which were in the 80s and intermittently in the 90s cut pasted all throughout the film. These double X films were either shot separately with a completely different cast or with the film’s cast continuing a lovemaking scene in the same film but with topless or semi-naked shots. Some insider moments like these keep springing in the first half of the film; two of the most memorable ones being the scenes from Wohin Bhayaanak Raat and a motleyed recreation of Khooni Panja & Hatyarin, where Ahluwalia unveils yet another fascinating tale of fetish based cinematic excellence – Spectrophilia/Necrophilia.

Wohin Bhayanak Raat – From 3.27 –

I think Ashim has been a lot around the sets of B-Auteur Vinod Talwar – The Dulhan Scene particularly motif from these two movies –

Khooni Panja – From 1:02:28

Hatyarin – From 11:23

In one scene, a newlywed bride is being ravished by a monstrous aberration in a sexually charged hypnotic trance which is depicted by Ahluwalia with a hysterical and precise recreation of the shooting style of Camp filmmakers; while in the other we have Kiran Kumar’s deep-fried chicken pakora avatar who ferociously sucks the blood out of female victims is superbly incorporated in the film as if it is made by the film’s lead pair The Duggal Bros (assuming it is made to sound like The Dhillon Bros, a famous B-movie duo).

There are several triumphs like these where the Director outshines and puts a wide smile on enthusiasts and novices alike. The entire movie is laced with a ‘Green Room-esque’ motif, and when you combine the moody direction with ace cinematographer Mohanan’s virtuosity, you are inadvertently left with a princely smack of Cuticura, the mentally depressing lights of the backstage and the impending doom of a wrathful breakdown from the funding Underworld Dons and unpredictably sinister Distributors. The music of the film is absolutely mind-blowing. Instead of lackadaisical 80s guitars and off-tune keyboard sonatas by less known music directors, the music has been perceptively compiled containing the best of post-disco pop such as Nazia Hassan & Biddu and even contains psychedelic compositions by Maestro Ilaiyaraja and Italian exploitation composers Egisto Macchi and Piero Umiliani of Manha Manha fame.

Dum Dum Dede – Miss Lovely Official Song

The musketeers of Miss Lovely are its stylized treatment, costumes, production design and lastly, Da Man Nawazuddin Siddiqui, an actor who rises like a phoenix from a deadpan screenplay and heightens his character even when he stands still, traumatized and sickeningly numb after a prison term, watching his heartless brother’s wife beseeching him not to enter her newly started life. An unforgettable scene where Nawazuddin lifelessly stands still and simply gives a smile, flummoxed at the heartlessness of the world. What masquerades as a dense narrative is actually an intensive lack of scenario. The story is about a forlorn and discontented bloke Sonu (Nawaz) who joins his slightly established B-movie filmmaker Vicky (Anil George) in the Camp movie-making business. After initial shocks and frustrations, he meets Pinky (Niharika Singh), an innocent struggler who hails from a strict family. Sonu pretends to be a filmmaker who promises her a lead role in his upcoming film titled Miss Lovely. After a brutal clash from the underworld and sundry financiers, Vicky lures Sonu into a last resort plan that forever exiles him to oblivion.

Even with the leading characters’ galling complexities, insecurities and their escapades, the film battles between two worlds whether to tell the story of the B, C & D-Grade World through the eccentric mentation of Vicky and Sonu or try to salvage the maladroit storyline impediments of all three characters, leading to an inevitable Bhandarkar-esque situation. And yet the movie is sandwiched by some of the most painstakingly showcased cultural phenomena and developments of the late 80s and early 90s.

With all its narrative faults, Miss Lovely proved to be a commendable watch due to its spectacularly rich recreation of the first ever D-Grade Era, its uncompromisingly Pulp and Psychedelic 80s settings, the Behind-The-Scenes of extremely paltry budget films, dark humor of its characters and of course for the glory for Camp/Cult fanaticism.

P.S – I’m extremely angry as someone flagged my Qatil Chudail video as inappropriate and pulled it out from youtube.

(Editorial Team note – You can check out Aseem’s videos collection here, here and here. And click here for our 2012 rewind post in which we’d written about Miss Lovely)

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.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is finally all set to release on 17th January, 2014. For its domestic run, the makers have released a new trailer of the film.

The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain regard section and it stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George.

Official Synopis

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.

A sordid tale of betrayal and doomed love, the film dives into the lower depths of the Bollywood underground, an audacious cinema with baroque cinemascope compositions, lurid art direction, wild background soundtracks, and gut-wrenching melodrama.

To know more about the cast and crew, check out this embedded pdf file to read their profile.

film bazaar2

– Early buzz on Kanu Behl’s Titli : Titli is the most stunning, daring, solid Indian film i have seen this year. Nothing like Indian cinema has seen ever…not a single wrong frame. Too depressing and suffocating at times…but man, this MUST go international. Animal kingdom ka baap hai! And all actors just at their career best roles. (via a friend who saw it). Titli is produced by Dibakar Banerjee and Aditya Chopra. To know more about the film, click here.

– Kanu Behl’s Titli also won the DI Award for the Best Work-in-Progress Lab Project. The DI Award sponsors the completion of the Digital Intermediate process at Prasad Labs.

– New York-based BGP Film has picked up the North American rights of Gyan Correa’s film The Good Road.

– Abhay Deol will star in the UK-set thriller, Bounty Hunter, to be directed by brothers Sunandan and Yugesh Walia. They will also co-produce the film rough their UK-based production company Endboard Productions.

– Q to make English-language debut with Brahman Naman, to be produced by Steve Barron’s UK-based Riley Productions.  Set in Bangalore in the 1980s, the film is a comedy about a 17-year-old who tops his class but also has whisky addiction, filthy mouth and a porn collection. Q’s Kolkata-based production company Overdose Joint will co-produce.

– France’s ASAP Films to produce Rajesh Jala’s The Spark (Chingari). It was selected for NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab and Co-production Market. The script also won the Incredible India award at Film Bazaar. The Award comes with a cash price of Rs. 1 mn for the best project in the Co-Production Market and is presented by the Ministry of Tourism.

– Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is set to release in India in January 2014. This will be done through the start-up theatrical distributor Easel Films and Eagle Movies.

– Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment has announced two new films – Amit Kumar’s Give Me Blood and Vasan Bala’s Side Hero.

– Nikhil Mahajan (of Pune 52) has announced his new film Dainik which will star Rajkummar Rao (Yes, RajKumar Yadav is now Rao). DAR Motion Pictures, IME Motion Pictures and Nikhil Mahajan’s Blue Drop Films will co-produce Marathi action adventure Baji, starring Shreyas Talpade.

– Varun Grover’s film Maa Bhagwatiya IIT Coaching will be produced by Nikhil Mahajan. The script was selected for Screenwriters Lab.

– DAR Motion Pictures, IME Motion Pictures will co-produce Nikhil Mahajan’s Marathi Superhero film Baji starring Shreyas Talpade.

– After Qissa, filmmaker Anup Singh is working on adapting UK author Paul Pickering’s novel Over The Rainbow. The film will be produced by Switzerland-based Saskia Vischer Productions.

– Channel 4 has picked up four titles – The Good Road, Sulemani Keeda, Fandry and B.A. Pass.

(Via various News sources)

Abhishek Kapoor’s new film Kai Po Che has released today. The reviews so far have been unanimously positive. But does it mean anything beyond that – The Big picture? Over to filmmaker Hansal Mehta who connects the dots.

Kai Po che

4 reasons for not watching the increasing number of films released every week –

  1. I am perennially broke
  2. I am lazy
  3. I need to work
  4. My wife is not in the mood
  5. I am hoping I get invited for a preview/premier.

The past few weeks have been different though. The spate of films released and due for release stared at me in the face because

  1. They featured friends in lead roles
  2. They were directed by friends
  3. They were produced by friends
  4. I was looking forward to the films
  5. I felt compelled to watch them

I am going to limit my post to the Hindi films I saw because in the case of foreign films:

  1. I feel inadequate commenting about commenting on them
  2. I did not feel like watching many of them
  3. I am waiting for uncensored DVDs of some of them
  4. I don’t get invited for previews of these films

In the past few years, most significantly 2012, I am seeing a pattern in films that are successful (relatively) and appreciated. A majority of them stand out for their choice of actors, their choice of subject, their non-formulaic narratives and a host of other similarly intellectually stimulating reasons.  One factor that has begun to increasingly stand out in these films is sheer audacity. The more I think about what drew me to watch the films, to like some of them, to dislike some of them and to find some of them memorable was the lack of apologetic film-making that has mostly led our films towards pathetic levels of mediocrity.

I’ve noticed that many film-makers no longer feel pressured to make the same formulaic nonsense with the same boring people over and over again. Many of the older directors also seem to realize the futility of formula and are trying hard to reinvent. Those who aren’t will soon be history.

Ever since I made Shahid, I’ve been asked over and over again about how the trend of biopics is on the increase. The media unfortunately reads trends very poorly and looks for convenient analysis. Trade pundits who have in the past thrived upon silly generalization are very shallow in their understanding of artistic/creative decisions taken by film-makers or in analyzing the success of films that don’t fall into their formulaic comfort zones. The truth is that book adaptations, biopics and stories inspired by true events are an indicator and not trends in themselves. We now have film-makers looking for newer stories to tell. We have film-makers looking for new ways to tell stories. We have film-makers who are fearless. We have film-makers who are not afraid of audacity.

Whether it is Talaash, Gangs of Wasseypur, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Vicky Donor, Special 26 or Kai Po Che, I notice a fearless streak in the directors and the team that has made these films possible. Even potboilers like Dabangg, or before that Wanted, or the recently released ABCD have displayed a certain audacious vision. Rockstar had the audacity to be deeply philosophical and sometimes mendering while pretending to have commercial trappings. A certain Anurag Kashyap whose films either got banned or termed as jinxed is now celebrated because of his delightfully indulgent Gangs of Wasseypur or his subversive take on Devdas. Sujoy Ghosh redeemed himself with the surprising Kahaani. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Pan Singh Tomar was commercially successful. English Vinglish marked the successful return of a Bollywood diva who churned out some of the most cringe-worthy films of my growing up years. The list could be exhaustive and I’m sure it will soon dominate successful box-office lists. On the other hand there has been a steady increase in films (Ship of Theseus, Miss Lovely, Peddlers etc.) that have found appreciative audiences in international film festivals and critics. These films have shown a fierce independence in their making while giving alternate Indian cinema a new lease of life and an unpretentious, fresh form of expression. They have been audacious in their abandonment of what we perceived as ‘art-house’ or ‘parallel’ cinema in India. They were unabashed in their treatment, style, narratives and expression. These and many other films that I have viewed over the past year and this year have challenged audiences, provoked critics and subverted formulaic convention with amazing audacity. Even more encouraging is the fact that producers, actors (including some stars) and trade have begun to embrace the audacious breed, backing them to the hilt.

So what is the point I’m trying to make? It’s simple. Audacity is in. Safe is not safe anymore. Take the second installment of Dabangg. It disappointed because it succumbed to ‘ingredientization’ and failed to live up to the fearless audacity of the first part. Films like ‘Zila Ghaziabad’  or ‘Jayantabhai Ki Love Story’ are passé. They will continue to get made. They will continue to remind us of everything that is unimaginative and about how we have allowed ourselves to be taken for granted all these years.

So here is my two bit gyaan. Whether you aim for the mainstream or the alternate space, make it audacious. Just making it big will soon cease to work – neither for the makers or the audience. Yes, we will have regular installments of successful franchises. We will have ridiculous remakes. We will have mindless, story-less films – but my guess is that all of them will work for their audacity and not for their adherence to convention.

Audacious will soon be safe. Safe is already dangerous. It could soon be suicidal.

Miss Lovely

It’s that time of the year again. You sit back, relax, remember the titles, ponder over it and decide what has stayed back with you.  I have been thinking about writing a post on Ashim Ahluwala’s Miss Lovely and Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus for a long time. But something or other came along and it kept on getting postponed. Now that am thinking about year-end posts, these two films stand out completely from the rest. And strangely, both have many things in common, starting from redefining the “indie” cinema space in its truest nature.

The term “indie” has become quite convoluted in India and we have started using the term broadly for any film which isn’t exactly mainstream. Also, because by conventional rule book, bollywood’s studio system used to be quite different till few years ago. Now, these two films – Miss Lovely and Ship Of Theseus, can be called true blue indies. They have been financed and produced independently, not only outside the studio system but even completely outside the bollywood network. Forget being big stars, the lead actors are not even known faces except for Nawazuddin who was nowhere on the cinema map when he shot Miss Lovely. And most importantly, both the films tell “our” stories – rooted and distinct to the core.

Once you have seen both the films, you realise that it’s finally coming of age moment for desi indies which mostly either look tacky because of lack of budget, or at most we end up giving grace marks and credit to them for at least trying something new. These two films stand strong on their own merit and doesn’t want you to give them “indie sympathy” for just trying to making a different film. They deliver it and how! May i add that these two are easily the best desi films of the year i have seen and they stand on par with the world cinema titles of the year.

As most of you know by now that Miss Lovely is set in the underbelly of Bombay where people churn out B-movies full of sex and horror. The story, as evident from its trailer,  is about rivalry of two brothers as a new actress joins the industry. But the film is so much more than that. It doesn’t follow the conventional narrative rule book, it’s more of an “atmospheric” film. You can smell the walls and feel claustrophobic because of the mood it manages to create with its visuals. It’s documentation of an era, of a time, of history and culture. It’s indulgent with minimal dialogues and will test your patience too, but i don’t remember seeing something so brilliantly crafted on indian screen in a long time.

Ship Of Theseus

Ship Of Theseus is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s verbose but never dull. It’s philosophical but not pretentious. It questions life, death, morality, religion, humanity, existential issues, and if all that makes it sound like a boring and serious film much like its title, then let me assure you that it isn’t. Even though it doesn’t have a known face but Gandhi’s direction is so assured that it keeps you engaged throughout the film. And what impressed me the most was that the filmmaker had so much “empathy” for the characters. That’s quite rare quality in our films.

I have been following Gandhi’s work since his short film, Right Here Right Now which i first saw at a film club in a cafe. He followed it up with brilliant short called Continuum, and i have been hearing about this feature since last 4-5 years. No wonder it took him so long to put it out finally because the film is completely uncompromised, much like Ashim’s film. Gandhi’s producer is one of the actors in the film, and Ashim managed funding through co-production deals in various countries. But unlike their previous generation, these two represents a new breed of filmmakers who are not willing to find a balance between bollywood and the cinema they associate with and want to make. They want to sail in only one boat and am glad that they could find producers who backed them in their vision.

Though Ashim had made the docu John and Jane earlier but Miss Lovely can be counted as a narrative debut of Ashim. And SoT is the first feature of Gandhi. Desi debut film which is ambitious, assured, and shows so much maturity is a rare find. And in a year when we get to see two such films, i think our cinema future is not very bleak.

To quickly check where these two debut films will stand in comparison to others, i tweeted and asked people to name some of the best desi debut films. I got all kind of replies – DCH, KKHH, Udaan, Masoom, Aaranya Kaandam, Makdi, Munnabhai MBBS, Sarfarosh, Socha Na Tha, Salaam Bombay, Ankur, Ishqiya, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Ek Haseena Thi, Black Friday, Ab Tak Chappan, DDLJ, Luck By Chance, Bhavni Bhawai, Hyderabad Blues, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Neecha Nagar, Dharti Ke Laal, Uski Roti, Musafir, Khamoshi, MPK, Pather Panchali, Ghatashraddha, Om dar-ba-dar and many more.  This was just a fun exercise for me – if i am saying these two are such great films, would they fit in the company of some of these debut films? I think they will and will stand out too because of their distinct narrative and treatment.

But test of time?

Well, that also depends on what they do next. I keep on hearing from people that both of them sound so cocky in their interviews, and are completely dismissive when it comes to bollywood and other kind of films. I think it’s good to be cocky as long as you can deliver a good film, and especially so when you do it by remaining completely outside the system. Or maybe there’s other way, as a filmmaker once said, it’s a great film but just don’t tell the director for his sanity.

It’s also great that both these films managed to get a good round of fest selections and screenings. Our cinema desperately need to go beyond the corporates obsessed with box office numbers and coke-corn-crap movie going audience. We need to tackle new territories and gain new markets on the world cinema map. But it would be sad if these two films don’t get a release in India. If not this year, am hoping it will happen next year because otherwise the loss will be entirely ours.