"Much Ado About Nothing!" I can┬┤t think of a finer phrase to comment on whether or not the frenzy K. Shashilal Nair┬┤s "Ek Chhotisi Love Story" has created across India is justified. Withstanding the inclusion of a few "risqu├ę" scenes the film is thoroughly unspectacular and poorly crafted.
Nair┬┤s work refuses to strike a chord with the viewer. It seems the filmmaker never cared as much about giving his characters motives or evaluating their behavior as he did about having them engage in odd sexual practices whenever the script allowed. Nair┬┤s lead players in the film are peculiar, unpredictable characters who act on uncharacteristic impulse so often throughout the duration of the film that even after two hours, it is impossible to understand any characters┬┤ background or reasoning.
The film as a whole tends to echo the pointlessness of its characters. It lacks any unifying purpose. Playing out like a direction-less narrative tracking a boy┬┤s (a boy named Aditya - played by Aditya Seal) obsession with a troubled woman (Manisha - played by Manisha Koirala), it seems a painful lesson as to why action is necessary to all films. Films rely on their director┬┤s ability to show through action; yet Ek Chhotisi Love Story does nothing of the sort. The characters do very little in two hours. I suppose it is implied that some constant tug of war between conflicting emotions is retarding action, but even in the end the story really amounts to nothing. What┬┤s worse, no one character endears to audiences enough that this anti-climax has any meaningful impact.
Shashilal Nair seems to have put his greatest effort in the few odd sex-scenes and generally ignored the rest of the movie. The rest of the movie drags on for what seems like eternity, with long stretches at some points that are devoid of any effort whatsoever. Many sequences of the film move forward via a series of pointless action/reaction shots sans dialogue. While proficient directors could have use a technique like this effectively to convey story and emotion, Nair and his editors seemed to have just inserted this to give their film an artsy feel. No real emotions are related and the story is eternally stagnant. The result is a very shallow, painfully slow film.
The sex scenes are quite unnecessary, but reflect Nair┬┤s efforts as a director. Having said that, Nair does a semi-commendable job of using his directive abilities to make the scenes brash, lurid, and conspicuously attention-seeking. There is nothing evenly remotely artistic about these scenes and they very obviously existed for the sole reason of publicity and controversy. It is in this one respect that Nair succeeds; he has shot these ineffectual scenes in such a way that they were bound to become a media focus. Nair has brilliantly manipulated and exploited the very audiences who are flocking to watch the film solely because of these scenes. They are in bad taste enough that frontbenchers will come back for repeated viewings.
Performances are limited. Manisha seems as though she never really understood or cared about her character. Her┬┤s is a staid performance that goes through the actions required like a zombie, and offers little emotional substance to her character. Also, her make-up artists and dress designers must have been on vacation during the shooting of this film; Manisha has never looked worst her entire career. Aditya Seal is barely functional and lacks the charm and grace needed to put audiences on his side in his awkward role. Combined with Nair┬┤s poor direction, Seal comes off as completely void of talent.
The supporting cast is no different. Ranvir Shorey may as well have acted in a pornographic movie - his only purpose here is to engage Manisha┬┤s character in sexual acts at his leisure. Saroj Bhargav is creepy as Aditya┬┤s grandmother, but offers nothing notable to the film.
While we┬┤re talking about the cast, we might as well mention [the now infamous] Jessica Chowski - Manisha┬┤s body double in the film. There is nothing to say about her in terms of a performance, but her noticeable presence in the film does serve to highlight Nair┬┤s carelessly poor direction. In one of the many blunders by the technical team of the film, Chowski┬┤s scenes portray the character "Manisha" as having a much fairer complexion and being much slimmer than Manisha Koirala ever appears in movie. The filmmakers┬┤ incompetence, as a result, sticks out like a sore thumb in the movie.
Technically, there is little impressive about the film. The camera work is typical, the editing is poor, and the background music does precious little to engross viewers. Nair┬┤s cursory direction, as mentioned above, is lacking in almost every respect.
Ek Chhotisi Love Story is bound to be a success in India because of its egregious lovemaking scenes, which are novel to audiences there. And while sex scenes for the sake of art in films are justifiable and worth fighting for, Nair┬┤s film is a far cry from an artistic vision. It is an ill conceived, poorly acted, rushed and shoddily made product that deserves close to none of the attention it is receiving from the press or the public. The bottom line: Ek Chhotisi Love Story is inconsequential film, best forgotten.