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Girlfriend
Producer: Harry Baweja
Director: Karan Razdan
Starring: Isha Kopikkar, Amrita Arora, Aashish Choudhary
Music: Daboo Malik
Lyrics: Praveen Bhardwaj

Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: Adult
Released on: June 11, 2004
Reviewed by: Surjyakiran Das
Reviewer's Rating: 7 out of 10
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Terrible, self-indulgent, and melodramatic Bollywood cinema certainly makes for some outstanding unintentional comedy. Just like Raj Kumar Kohli’s unforgettable “Jaani Dushman” and Mani Shankar’s equally hilarious “Rudraksh,” Karan Razdan’s “Girlfriend” is so consistently and inadvertently awful, that it is an absolute riot to watch.

Amrita Arora recently gave an interview in which she remarked that homosexuals deserve to be treated with "dignity and respect." She went on at great length to make comments about the intense admiration she harbored for homosexuals that persevered and persisted in the face of societal disapproval. What, then, is Ms. Arora doing starring in a film where lesbianism is seen as an injurious psychological disorder?

The simple answer is, exploiting. Arora, director Karan Razdan, and co-star Isha Kopikkar exploit the enigmatic appeal of lesbian sensuality throughout the initial reels of “Girlfriend,” before condemning lesbians and labeling them mentally unstable in the third act. Indeed, the most striking thing about this film is how deeply hypocritical it is on every level.

The thin semblance of a plot that propels the film from one gratuitous skin-show to the next is, in essence, a substandard rehash of the classic Bollywood “love triangle gone wrong.” Characters A and B vie for the affection of a third character, C, and when B and C go off together, A becomes dangerously obsessive and must eventually be destroyed by B. The only difference between “Girlfriend” and earlier entries in this genre such as Yash Chopra’s “Darr” and Rajat Mukherjee’s “Pyar Tune Kya Kiya” is that, this time, the obsessive lover (Isha Koppikar) is a lesbian in love with her best friend (Amrita Arora).

Not that the plot really matters in a film like this. The characters are poorly written, entire scenes and sequences lack even the most remote traces of causality, and whatever doesn’t have to do with lesbianism is as hackneyed and clichéd as possible.

In reality, the plot is one of convenience aimed only at maximizing the number of intimate encounters between Kopikkar and Arora’s characters. Take, for example, this plot element - Arora’s character suffers from an affinity for alcohol. When she finally gets entirely drunk, she ends up sleeping with her lesbian friend, but only by mistake. If sober, of course, she would never engage in such sinful behavior.

Which brings us to the central tenet of Razdan’s film – lesbianism as a dangerous breach of nature and tradition that must ultimately be eradicated. One of the female protagonists in the film was subject to grotesque abuse as a child. As a result, she becomes a full-fledged lesbian; she comes to hate men, develop unhealthy sexual fixations with women, and harbor various homicidal and sociopathic tendencies. The other woman in the film becomes a lesbian only sporadically due to substance abuse. The lesbianism in both women is ultimately destroyed in the film’s predictable, status-quo upholding, “happy” ending; one of the women resolves to stop drinking and the other is subjugated by the hero as all villains eventually are in Hindi films.

A film like this doesn’t require performances, and none of the actors involved are the kind to deliver when it’s uncalled for. Kopikkar, who is quickly becoming a reliable over-actor, sneers and hams through her role; her pathetic turn really reinforces the overwhelming theme of lesbianism being a psychological disorder. Arora looks stunning, but stumbles through her lines and forces preposterously awkward expressions of delight and disgust as they are required. Whereas both of these actresses could have done something interesting with the roles given to them, they do nothing more than prove that they belong in the industry ditch they are stuck in; an item number here, a sleazy B-movie there, and they’ll be gone in a couple of years before audiences even fully learn their names. Aashish Choudhary and the rest of the supporting cast turn in similarly miserable performances.

All of this is combined with terrible direction, awful songs, ridiculously sexual music videos, and some of the worse cinematography ever committed to celluloid, to make for an absolutely fantastic, thoroughly entertaining three hours of unintentional comedy.

Whether its Kopikkar’s utterly absurd take on what a lesbian behaves like, the dreadful “Matrix”-inspired fight scenes between Kopikkar and Choudhary, or the idiotic melodrama that permeates the film’s conclusion, nearly every aspect of the film will have an intelligent audience in splits.

“Girlfriend” is a truly pathetic and cowardly attempt to exploit lesbian sexuality to attract horny moviegoers, only to then condemn homosexuality as a whole for its inherent immorality. Razdan and the actors involved will insist that they did not create the movie for titillation, but attempted a “mature,” “honest,” and “dignified” exploration of the theme of homosexuality. Evidently, this claim is just as laughable as the film itself. Would Razdan have made a film in which the lesbian couple was in the right and Choudhary’s character was the obsessive one? Or a film that dealt with male homosexuality complete with sensual music videos and shamelessly exploitative sex scenes? Clearly, the answers to these questions are even more predictable than the film’s ending.

Unlike perverted trade analyst-turned-critics who may recommend this film because of the box-office success the sexual content of the film promises, it can only realistically be recommended as something to be laughed at and ridiculed. Karan Razdan’s highly-offensive lesbian exploitation flick is a laughing-stock and comes recommended only for those that can enjoy making fun of the shoddiness of its filmmaking and the hypocrisy of its creators. The phrase “so bad, it’s good” has seldom been more applicable.