Ram Gopal Varma says, "Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the psychological aspects of criminal behavior. After years of reading and hearing about all kinds of criminal acts and using many of them in parts as subject matter for my films, I had come to the conclusion that I had seen, heard and read it all. However, in the year 2008, when I read that a woman and her boyfriend in Mumbai, had allegedly murdered a guy, had sex in front of the dead body, then cut him into pieces, packed them in shopping bags, and then disposed them off in the nearby jungle, I was taken aback. I could not, for the life of me, understand how two such seemingly, everyday, ordinary people could bring themselves to commit such a heinous act. What shocked me even more was that there was a love story behind that hair-raising, gruesome happening." For those unaware, that's the Neeraj Grover murder case this film has taken its inspiration from.
Ram Gopal Varma is known for making movies on his trademark crime and horror genre, a major focus being on real life incidents. From Shiva to Satya, Raat and Kaun, in spite of all the controversies surrounding him, one can't deny that he's still a master of his trade. And now he's back with Not a Love Story, a movie inspired by the Neeraj Grover murder case in 2008. Like most of his films, this one is also not controversy-free. However the question is, after a series of box office duds – the last two being Rakta Charitra and Rann – will Not a Love Story bring any different results for RGV? Hopefully, yes!
In the summer of 2008, an aspiring actress (Mahie Gill) was doing the rounds of the Mumbai film industry. In the course of her efforts, she met a man who lent her a helping hand (Ajay Gehi). She got into a relationship with this man in spite of her already having a boy friend back in her home town (Deepak Dobriyal). And one fateful morning, her boyfriend landed up when she was with that man in her apartment. What followed after that shook the entire nation!
Let's get one thing straight, this film is not for the soft-hearted. From having sex in front of the dead body to chopping the body into pieces, it's all been shown. Unlike expected, Ram Gopal Varma has not projected his moral stand on the incident. In spite of being an extremely brutal incident, there is no villain in this film. You sympathize with each character including the accused which is surprising. In fact that's one of the most interesting factors because; at some level you actually do relate to and understand them. Needless to say, the film feels extremely realistic at every point. In fact so real is the impact that it makes you sit up and notice the possibility of you being the victim or even the murderer. Anyone could have been! Life at times leads in such a way, that you're not left with a choice, things just happen in even one single moment. As a movie, it has the ability to disgust you, shock you and also anger you; keeping you engrossed throughout. However, one of the few minuses would be that the 'love' which caused the entire incident, could have done with more justification. Their passion and immense love for each other is more left on the audience to assume.
Ram Gopal Varma is in top form! He has his unique style which no one can take away from him. No one can make close-up shots and weird camera angles as interesting as Ram Gopal Varma! Screenplay by Rohit Banawlikar and editing is perfect. There is no single boring moment in the film. From Mahie's struggle as an actress to the murder and even court proceedings, the film keeps you gripped every single moment. A unique aspect of any Ram Gopal Verma film is its background score, and Sandeep Chowta has done a brilliant job! It complements the proceedings in the film beautifully. The same goes for the songs. In fact, it should be an example for others of how to incorporate songs intelligently in a film, and eliminate when not necessary. Cinematography is first-rate!
Mahie Gill and Deepak Dobriyal are simple amazing. From being the struggler heroine, to displaying her confused emotions between fear, guilt and confidence in the latter half; Mahie Gill is amazingly natural. However, it's Deepak Dobriyal who outshines. Suiting his character perfectly, he's given an absolutely terrific performance. Ajay Gehi is confident. Zakir Hussain is superb.
To sum it up, Not a Love Story is one of those rare films whose main asset is its story-telling. In fact, in my opinion, it's one of the best made films of 2011. It's not for the soft-hearted or for those looking out for masala entertainment; the film can be very disturbing. But for the remaining – brilliant direction, gripping screenplay, superlative performances and excellent skilled technical support makes Not a Love Story a must watch!
Rating - **** (Four stars)
Author – Rishitu Amarnani