My thoughts on LSD (Love, Sex aur Dhokha)

Posted on May 18, 2010

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I have a problem when it comes to Hindi movies. I’m too judgmental about them; I’m quick to label them as good and bad just by looking at their posters. You can thank the first ten years of my life where Bollywood produced nothing but trash that was ugly, misogynistic and ultimately went nowhere.

Of course, film in this country has evolved since those days, but I’m always suspicious of idiot directors that stay in the comfort zone of the ‘formula’. Karan Johar is one of them. Dibakar Banerjee, I discovered tonight, is not.

My brother had seen Love Sex aur Dhokha weeks before I finally did tonight, and he told me something that Banerjee had said. If profanity offends you, you might want to skip this paragraph. I don’t know the exact quote, but he said something along the lines of the fact that any audience needs a cumshot, every thirty minutes or so. A cumshot, as some of you might know is the point of time in a pornographic movie, where a guy blows his load, generally on the girl’s face. Having spent himself, the guy can obviously not go on, and the film generally ends with a cumshot. Happy endings, so to speak.

Now, my brother told me this on a very drunken night, so I might be wrong in attributing this quote to Banerjee. Please don’t come after me for it, in case he didn’t say it. Whether or not he said it is immaterial. The point is, whoever said it, I agree with it. A 2 hour movie, (unlike porn that has a single purpose) needs to make an audience emote in different ways, if you want them to watch your movie. It’s the fundamentals of film making to have three acts that can begin, display and successfully conclude any script. But to really hold them through the three acts, you have to give them something explosive every twenty minutes or so. Give them a taste of some real magic, so to speak. I think that is ironically enough what LSD does stupendously well.

I discovered something incredible about this movie that rarely happens with me and Hindi cinema. Not once in this unconventional yet perfectly fictitious narrative did I feel like I was watching a movie. This was not escapism, that comfort blanket that most directors in this country sleep under. It was very real. All three of its parts, or acts for want of a better word, felt as real as possible. It was irony defined because the voyeurism with which any camera would train itself on any of these people, was the only indication that it was another world. The characters were not the stars of this movie, the camera was.

It is as much a film about pulp fiction as that gem of Quentin Tarantino’s except it’s not the redemption of the characters at play, but our own. With the passing of one act to another, we as an audience hope and pray that what we see next might not be as ugly as what has just happened. The first act is horrific, it shows us Love, and ironically the amount of hatred that concept might invoke in other human beings. Banerjee serves up the coup de grace (cumshot?) right at the beginning, with the first part. It’s a Bollywood tragedy that ends the same way all of us knew it would. Tragic, shocking and sad. We all saw it coming, and could not stop it. We watched it take place as silent witnesses; much like every crime that takes place on our streets.

By the end of the second part, an audience feels a sense of hope for good. We expect it to go down a particular path, and the ending does not disappoint. But the moment of hope, of maybe a different path were those two seconds when a male character decides about whether or not to switch off a camera. Look out for it. That one shot defined this movie for me.

The third act completes the redemption of the audience. Chock-full of voyeurism, one cannot help but hope that this mania comes to an end. What really delights me is the fact that Banerjee uses the media as a narrative device for that redemption. That he can construct a character so flawed that he wants to kill himself, yet saves another. A character, whose life revolves around sneaking cameras into other people’s lives, yet has the courage to turn it off when it needs to be. Using a member of the press as a metaphor for that responsible act shows us that Banerjee probably has faith in it. That despite this underbelly of scandalous shit that takes place, there’s always a chance that even the people who propagate it, can know when to stop. Talk about happy endings!

And I think it’s time I stopped as well. Watch this movie. I can’t promise you’ll love it like any other. But then this movie is like no other, either.

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