Ramgopal Varma is controversy's favorite child. And it's not the first time that there is so much of a hullabaloo over an RGV film. Be it his choice of subjects or his tweets, RGV is truly distinct, known for walking the untrodden path and speaking his mind. Like him or not, you can't disregard him. This time around, the maverick film-maker chooses to narrate a crime story on an extremely contentious theme, a heinous murder.
In 2008, the nation woke up to a dreadful, deplorable news -- a man was murdered and his body was chopped into pieces in suburban Mumbai. It was too horrific an incident to be forgotten. When one thinks of it, one wonders what could've provoked this brutal deed.
It is evident at the very outset that RGV's NOT A LOVE STORY is inspired by the gruesome murder, the savage deed. It also raises a very pertinent question: How could something so brutal happen in a city like Mumbai? The film also drives home a point of view that no one is intrinsically bad and that a murder of this kind can also happen because of irrepressible emotions, in a fit of rage, at the spur of the moment. There are some compelling circumstances that force people to commit such heinous crimes.
Though RGV borrows from real life, the differences cannot be overlooked either. The protagonist in the film is not a South Indian actress and her fiancé is not a Navy Lieutenant. Also, the film is just an interpretation of what could have occurred and not a reporting on what actually transpired. The drama is transfixing and even if you aren't too aware of what may've occurred in real life, the film tries to recreate the events that changed the lives of three people. What makes the goings-on even more interesting is the fact that RGV maintains a neutral stand while narrating the story, not tilting towards any particular character or giving his point of view on the film.
In 2008, an aspiring actress [Mahie Gill] was doing the rounds of the Mumbai film industry. In the course of her efforts, she met a person [Ajay Gehi] who lent her a helping hand. One fateful morning her boyfriend [Deepak Dobriyal] landed up when she was with that man in her apartment. What followed thereafter shook the entire nation.
In order to remain as real as possible, RGV has filmed the movie in the same building, which gives the viewer an idea about how the dastardly act was committed in actuality in the apartment. The scenes of the murder and its aftermath give you goose pimples. The murder and what transpired thereafter, including Dobriyal chopping the body into pieces and the accused couple making out in front of the dead body, have also been incorporated.
The second hour -- the investigations -- is captivating as well. At this juncture, a number of fresh characters are introduced: the cops, the lawyers, the hapless parents of the deceased. Not once is there a slack moment and RGV succeeds in keeping your attention arrested till the finale.
RGV is an accomplished storyteller and there's no denying that NOT A LOVE STORY would rank amongst his best works. The film leaves you shocked, stunned and aghast and at the same time, you feel sad for the lovers in the final sequence, when Mahie pours her heart out to Dobriyal. Though the film depicts a brutal crime, there's hardly any blood [except when the guy is murdered] or gore here. The screenplay [writer: Rohit G. Banawlikar] is captivating and RGV's execution of the material, spellbinding.
NOT A LOVE STORY stands out in the technical department. The sound design is perfect, while the camerawork [shot in natural light] is eye-catching. In fact, the zany camera movements may bother you initially, but you become a participant in the goings-on subsequently. Also, there are times when the constant shaking of the camera compliments the tension-filled atmosphere depicted in the film. But the highest praise, after RGV, should be reserved for Sandeep Chowta's background score. It's electrifying and augments the impact of a well-told story. The movie has two songs, one of which is the revisited version of the song 'Rangeela Re' from RGV's RANGEELA, which is cleverly integrated in the narrative.
The intensity of emotions between the couple is very high in NOT A LOVE STORY. Both Deepak Dobriyal and Mahie Gill vie for top honors. Mahie gives it all to this rather complex role and emerges trumps. Though she delivers a stunning performance all through, her work in the second hour, when the investigations begin, prove what a fine talent she is. Deepak carries the look of a maniac and also a possessive lover very well. In fact, the actor gets few lines to deliver and expresses the varied emotions through his eyes/expressions.
Ajay Gehi is first-rate in a brief role. Zakir Hussain is excellent, yet again. In fact, the actor surprises you in film after film. The film has a number of talented actors essaying significant roles like Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Jariwala, Ganesh Yadav and late Rasika Joshi and each one stands out in their respective parts.
On the whole, NOT A LOVE STORY shocks and stuns, which only goes to prove how impactful the film is. But, most importantly, it reiterates the age-old adage, anger is short-lived madness and how things can change for worse at the spur of the moment. It must be said that NOT A LOVE STORY is amongst Ramgopal Varma's best works. An intense mindbender, NOT A LOVE STORY is a wonderful illustration of how the accurate approach to storytelling can levitate a film. Try not to miss this one!