Saturday, April 21, 2012


Release date:
April 20, 2012
Vivek Agnihotri
Paoli Dam, Gulshan Devaiah, Nikhil Dwivedi, Bhairavi Goswami      

If you plan to be a prostitute, know this: that to be the best r***i ever, you must learn to “shake it, take it, fake it”. This gyaan is offered to prostitutional aspirant Kavya Krishna (Paoli Dam) in Hate Story by a top-notch r***i (the Hindi word that rhymes with undie) as she brushes her fulsome breasts against Kavya’s bulky bosom of which we see a lot in this film.

Since so much trouble has been taken to shoot those Dam breasts from all imaginable angles that would pass muster with the stiff-necked Indian Censors, and since far less effort seems to have been invested in this shallow script, I can only guess that the former are meant to be Hate Story’s USP! So here are my takeaways from this unintentionally funny film:

1.     Paoli Dam – Bollywood debutant but a known name in West Bengal – is beautiful.
2.     Paoli Dam is sexy. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, boys, but I suspect you will agree that those killer curves are (as my teenaged friends would put it) hawt!
3.     Paoli Dam needs a better gym. Sorry girl, I’d usually consider such remarks personal, but a decently articulated assessment of your body is fair game when you position yourself as a sex bomb and drop your clothes at the drop of a hat. FYI if that’s the niche you are eyeing, a generous bosom and slim waist are not enough – you need a perfectly toned back too! And since this film has chosen to lure audiences into theatres with a photo-shopped, flawless rear view of you in the posters, the real thing on celluloid ought to match up!
4.     Paoli Dam and director Vivek Agnihotri have the courage not to camouflage her complexion. She is dark skinned and not pretending to be otherwise. This is such a pleasant change from most Bollywood films that use pancake, lighting and camera trickery to alter the skin colour of their dusky leading ladies. In that respect, Paoli harks back to the early days of Kajol, long before Ms Devgn nee Mukherjee became the whitened-up creature of the current cosmetic company ads that she now appears in!
5.     Paoli Dam needs to improve her acting.
Now that you’ve absorbed all that, here’s a sliver of the story: Kavya is a Delhi journalist whose sting operation exposes a cement company. This brings her in conflict with industrialist Siddharth Dhanrajgir who unleashes his life’s motto on her: “I f*** the people who f*** with me.” But Sid is doomed when Kavya dedicates her own life to vengeance against him because, as she explains, when a woman decides to sell her izzat instead of trying to protect it, no man stands a chance, least of all you, Siddharth Dhanrajgiiiiiiiiiiir!!! Drum rolls please!

No doubt there was potential in Hate Story’s story brief. After all, the all-consuming nature of revenge is always worth exploring! But latent possibilities are buried here under a contrived script in which all proceedings are manipulated to fall in line with the writer’s ultimate goal, the dialoguebaazi is more amusing than it is hard hitting, and the execution borders on the farcical. So when the heroine goes to jail, she seems to have the services of the best make-up artists and manicurists at her disposal. When she has to decipher corporate files, her photographer ex-colleague (Nikhil Dwivedi) most conveniently transforms into a finance wiz who can analyse those papers at a glance. And Daddy Dhanrajgir knows his son is destroying his business empire for vendetta, but he stands by and watches for a little above two hours, before he washes his hands of Sid. Arrey, if he’d intervened before that, how would the film have got completed?!

Incidentally, Nikhil and Gulshan Devaiah (as Siddharth Dhanrajgir) prove here that good actors sometimes manage to rise above banal scripts. Nikhil was noticeable in Mani Ratnam’s otherwise dull Raavan and in 2011’s little gem Shor In The City. Gulshan played a loose cannon to good effect in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan (2011). In Hate Story he seamlessly metamorphoses from the fellow who stammers helplessly when he addresses his father to the ruthless, supremely confident bastard that he is with the rest of the world. Both men deserve better than this film.

As for the much-talked-about sex scenes in Hate Story … well, they’re way more explicit than what we’re used to seeing from Bollywood. And they’re not C-grade-style sleazy. But Paoli’s attempts to portray a steaming hot seductress are more laughable than sultry, the combined effect of ineffective acting and poor writing! Look no further than the scene in which she prances around the wet lawn of a politician’s house on a rainy day, spouting tacky dialogues steeped in puns to seduce him into appointing her to a top position in a bank.

Strange thing is that neither she nor director Vivek Agnihotri need have looked far for reference points. After all, Hate Story is produced by Vikram Bhatt who directed Raaz in which Bipasha Basu redefined “sexy” for Indian audiences.

Hate Story is not erotica as the publicity would have us believe. It’s a sad attempt at it!

Rating (out of five): * (For Nikhil Dwivedi and Gulshan Devaiah, and because I’ve seen far far worse. Don’t believe me? Click here for proof.)

CBFC Rating:                      A
Language:                            Hindi

Lead photograph courtesy:

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