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Ek Chotisi Love Story

IF EVER there is a film that is excruciatingly boring and unduly slow and pointless, then it has to be Paragon Pictures International / Shringar Films release "Ek Chotisi Love Story", that has generated so much needless controversy. Neither does the film portray that much of objectionable material nor does the effort seem worth all that trouble. What is worse is that even the director, Shashilal Nair, does not think much of his celluloid venture if his recent quotes in a newspaper are any indication. "Its just an experiment, nothing more," is what he says. One wonders why the poor audience has to be the victim of his meanderings!

Yes, there are a few explicit scenes — but had there been no dust kicked up, it may just have passed without much ado. After all, the film has a theme that explores the sexual awakening of an adolescent. And there will be that amount of visual expression that may be necessary to show that element. Provided it is done with a degree of finesse. But no, Mr. Shashilal had to reduce it to crudity and make it most unaesthetic — without an ounce of warmth or understanding.

Which probably made Manisha Koirala get cold feet, once it was done. In theory, the theme has plenty of potential. Which is why she may have accepted the role in the first place. Even if Manisha is an impulsive actress surely she could have foreseen the quality and approach and not gone anywhere near the role? For one thing, the director has reinforced stereotypes of single women! If they wear slightly bohemian clothes and never bother to draw the curtains of their apartments, then they are surely ready to have a good time. It's certainly a hard, gloomy life, the way it's made out. There is no such thing as love and lovemaking. Only sex!

And yes, given this day and age, the advantages of cartons of milk or sachets that can be preserved in the refrigerator, our heroine even today is dependent on the local milk man with his aluminum can to deliver milk at the crack of dawn!

What this film essentially amounts to is that the director has seen and been inspired by several films dealing with the subject of older women, younger men or boys, or better still, discovery of sexual awakenings — he decided there is nothing wrong trying out this theme with his own approach. But then his approach is hardly interesting or sustaining.

Aditya (Aditya Seal) is just about 15 — bored, lonely and living with his grandmother in an apartment complex. The grandmom (Saroj Bhargava — the best thing in the film) is sweet, understanding, but hardly any company to a growing adolescent. So what does he do to make his life seem worthwhile? He becomes a Peeping Tom. That too with a telescope, which can give him a good view of the opposite apartment which belongs to a 28-year old single woman — who walks around in skimpy clothes while she is at home. She is obviously unaware of this voyeuristic youngster across the building! He watches her every move — from her pottering about in the kitchen while she munches a sandwich to her fooling around with her boyfriend (Ranvir Shorey).

Of course since he makes it his life's mission to track her every move, he imagines himself in love with her and even becomes jealous of her boyfriend. And he actually makes a clumsy effort to tell her so, one day. Stunned by the boy's revelation, she decides to take matters into her hand — with some unpleasant consequences, which don't get resolved that easily. In fact what conclusion could this dead end situation possibly have?

None (save Saroj) in the cast does anything that could have made the film worthwhile. Manisha looks horrible, jaded and seemingly uninterested. This whole thing about using the body double has only made people want to see what the hoopla is all about! But once there, how many can actually sit through the painful lethargy of the scenes? Aditya as the young boy is cute, but without any warmth or energy to draw empathy. Background score by Arvind Nirmal, is reminiscent of European films — a strange brooding quality that drives one to further depression.

CHITRA MAHESH

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