Voyeurism and modern society’s obsessive interest in the lives of others has been a recurrent theme in cinema, having been explored in classics like Blow Up and Rear Window as well as in countless trashy exploitation flicks from Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct knock-off Sliver to Navina Cinema’s eternal favorite Bedroom Eyes since it provides an opportunity to insert sequences of women undressing as part of the plot. Handicam “reality” footage, a technique inspired by cinema verite, has also been extensively used in many Hollywood blockbusters in recent times—Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and last year’s sleeper hit Paranormal Activity. And episodic movies with interleaving story lines as an alternative narrative structure has been flogged to death recently by both Hollywood as well as Bollywood.
“Love Sex Aur Dhoka”, Dibakar Banerjee’s take on voyeurism, told through three inter-cutting stories each of which are about Love, Sex and Dhoka and presented through handicam/surveillance cam footage is at the same time derivative (one of the stories has a closing sequence almost identical to the one from Cloverfield) as well as wildly original.
The innovativeness of LSD does not lie in the fact that no one in the Hindi film industry has yet to use the “raw cam footage technique” as a cinematic device–if LSD was just about that it would have been just another gimmicky production, yet another “I am a cool director” monument to artistic hubris.
No LSD is original because it is able to capture small moments of love, horror, indecision, conflict, lust, rage and true evil brilliantly in a manner rarely seen in Hindi movies, with the technique and stylistic flourishes rarely overwhelming the content.
The aesthetic impact of LSD is based on three foundations—-uniformly superlative performances from the unknown ensemble cast, marvelously sharp editing because of which at no point of time would an intelligent audience member be left scratching their heads as to what is going on (a real possibility considering how so unlike a Hindi movie stylistically LSD is) and finally brilliant use of lighting as a device to heighten dramatic tension. LSD is not perfect however with its primary weakness being the spoof of DDLJ that diluted the movie’s impact and was sometimes so forced that it seemed as if the director had an axe to grind against Adi-sir. Save that and a few other smaller things including the dishonestly sleazy promotion campaign, LSD is pretty darn awesome.
Take a bow Dibakar Banerjee for going where no Hindi movie director has gone before. And take a bow Ekta Kapoor for having the balls to produce a movie that is so beyond the pale of conventional Bollywood. You are henceforth forgiven for unleashing Tusshar Kapoor on the world. Produce a few movies like this Ms. Kapoor and maybe, perhaps maybe, your responsibility for the K-serial holocaust might also be forgotten.
A definite must-watch.