Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Pondering Over Miss Lovely

Miss LovelyI have grown weary of movies that begin with a character narrating about his past. In most cases, this narrator is a guy, a hapless one and he usually ends up dying or losing the girl. In certain cases like About a Boy, High Fidelity or even Savages, it ends up defining the movie and making it better.

In Miss Lovely, Sonu (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) serves our window to the world of seedy C-grade filmmakers. He speaks reluctantly and regretfully. That’s similar to the way he works in the business of C-grade filmmaking. He’s only assisting and doing menial jobs for his older brother Vicky (Anil George).

While Sonu is hoping to switch to something else, Vicky is the big brother with big plans. He’s liaising with some big shots to boost up the ‘production value’ and ‘star cast’ for his next C-grade Citizen Kane. Miss Lovely’s plot slowly simmers to a form a coherent story and give its tragic conclusion. (It’s an indie film about C-grade films, were you expecting a happy ending?)

But like most stories, Miss Lovely is not about what it says but how it says it. We see Sonu struggling to make peace with what he does for a living while his brother is bullying him into buying his plans. If you have an older sibling, you can understand the power dynamics of their relationship. Older siblings often convince and sometimes command their younger ones to do their bidding. Here Nawazuddin borrows some cues from his ‘Faizal’ from Wasseypur. He’s a short, stick thin chap, who’s always looking at his feet as if admitting his submissiveness. Notice how in nearly every conversation with Vicky and even in their confrontations, Sonu’s spine is slightly arched, as if even after 40 years, he’s still supplicating to his brother.

Like all C-grade movies, Miss Lovely’s plot is anchored around women. Most playthings are unwillingly obliging to the shady men and all are exploited. Well all except Pinky (the astonishing debut from the Aditi Rao Hydari-lookalike Niharika Singh). Pinky plays it smooth. Curving her luscious lips innocently enough and showing Sonu his photographs when he tells her he’s a director.

She’s the femme fatale which most 80s C-grade flicks never had. When her secrets are revealed, you won’t be exactly surprised but realise that the only sympathetic person in this story is Sonu. And what makes him so sympathetic? He really wants to get out of the business. He lies to Pinky about being a director but he’s so sincere that he actually steals from his brother just so he can make a proper clean ‘romantic film’ with her.

Miss Lovely-Horror ShootI am a child of the 90s. I grew up when it became hard to separate the world from the world wide web. I never had to get my kicks from C-grade films. I haven’t even seen any C-grade movie in its entirety. I have seen bits here and there while channel surfing and some stuff that goes viral because of its sheer hilarity. That being said, the makers of Miss Lovely went to great length to get its look just right. The grainy Technicolor look is just right. What’s better is it works wonders for all the foreign film festival film shots too. And there are plenty of those here. A vulture hanging over Vicky’s head while he is in hiding. A shot of Sonu walking down a narrow corridor to pursue Pinky cueing that this is a dead end.

Normally, audiences don’t notice sound design. It’s always in the background but Miss Lovely is possibly the only film where I felt the usage of sound was extremely pronounced. Each hammer, scratch, screech used to adding to the milieu. I particularly enjoyed when the rattle of a camera in action goes up as Sonu and Vicky’s conflict escalates.

In most parts Miss Lovely is a good but a flawed film. I recommend you to watch it for  Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s hapless Sonu, Anil George’s manipulative misogynistic ploys and Niharika Singh’s bitch-aari Pinky.

PS: There’s always something I miss out. I wasn’t ever around in the 80s, so if I say they got the period details right, it’d be ridiculous. I really admired a scene where they managed to show moving traffic using 3 Ambassadors and a Maruti 800. And, if anyone knows the name of the long-haired guy who plays the C-film director, e-mail it to me. His long locks win the most ridiculous hairdo in films award for 2014.

Uddhav Parab

 

3 thoughts on “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Pondering Over Miss Lovely

  1. Welcome back, Uddhav. I felt underwhelmed after watching the film, Nawaz was brilliant,especially the scene when he comes back from Jail and sits at Poonam office with tea and biscuit. This Guy speaks so much with his eyes.

    Two three things they did not get right, when Nawaaz and Niharika goes to watch movie, you can clearly see in the background it is Liberty cinema hall, and you can clearly see the sign Dolby Sound,for a director who claims he was interested more in detailing this is just not done.

    Towards climax when Anil George is driving in car with Nawaz, persuading him to do a blue film, you can clearly see the new blue and yellow signboards for street which were never in 1980’s.

    Thirdly the Miss Lovely Porn scene,the whole scene is inspired from USA porn no porn in India is first POV and never seen any Indian Porn which ask questions which are similar to American porn.

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  2. Hey!

    Hope to stay longer than before this time. 😀

    So yes, they got some of the period details wrong and for some reason they also took a shot of a Mumbai local. It was maroon in colour, a colour they kept until recently. I don’t think they had the same colour in the 80s.

    With regards to the film being a comment similar to Boogie Nights. I don’t have much context regarding Indian porn per se but I did enjoy the film, so if I can’t complain about the film falling short in that scenario.

    Oh and yes, the biscuit wala scene is killer. There’s this real hunger in his eyes, this desperation with which he gobbles down the biscuits.

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  3. Miss Lovely is a good but flawed film. I think you have summed up the film rather aptly. The film gets the mood, the atmosphere of the 80’s amongst other things right. It quite nicely created the atmosphere of the B and C film industry quite well. But the lack of engaging drama, characters whom you can root for are some of the weaknesses which bring down the film. Still it is an audacious film and a relief from the usual Bollywood crap we see every Friday at the cinemas. For this reason alone, a film like Miss Lovely needs to be applauded and appreciated.
    Nawaz does well yet again esp. towards the penultimate portions like when he is arrested and put into the jail. Anil George was a good find and acts really well. I hope actors like him keeping cast in good roles more often. Hope to see him in good films form hereon. Niharika Singh looks pretty but does an okay job. The sound design also is very well done.

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