It was an easy mistake to make, easy to think of the border between Sectorpur and Delhi as only administrative. But it had a significance deeper than she knew. It was the border between town and country, between old ways and new, city way, between rural poor and urban middle class, between the mall-goers and the wild men of Jhaatkebaal. And across that border, where women in brightly coloured clothes worked in fields and men lazed on charpoys drinking tea, young girls did not wear capris, or send text messages, or have boyfriends; and they certainly did not marry out of turn. Just miles into that country of truck drivers and dangerous moustaches, with Delhi still visible, people thought nothing of killing a girl who had dishonoured their name. It was from this world that the bulk of Jhaatkebaal’s police force was recruited.There’s much more of interest in The Temple-goers, and I’ll post a review soon.
And so when revelations broke about Aakash and Megha’s secret marriage, and romantic text messages came to light, and Airtel’s call register revealed late-night phone calls made from Megha’s phone, not just to Aakash but to other “strange persons”, it was with some sympathy for a brother, understandably forced to silence so loose a sister, that the police arrested Kris. They would just as happily have arrested his father, but Mr Aggarwal was over seventy and out of town at the time of the murder.
I also hope to write about Love, Sex aur Dhokha sometime, but only after a second, more attentive viewing: at this point I don’t trust myself to say anything intelligent about it. Need a closer look, mainly for technical reasons – to work out the little places where the camera's perspective stops being subjective (that is, as seen through the handycam, the store CCTVs and the spycam) and becomes “objective” (the filmic equivalent of the omniscient narrator). Also, the timing of some of the cuts.
Two things I will say: one, I was blown away by the final scene where the characters in the hospital room point at the television and there's a segue to the heavily stylised music-video version of the store shooting (with the great title song and the closing credits). Brilliantly done, and a fine comment on how news channels take banal, unglamorous crimes and sex them up for the consumption of their viewers at prime time (remember the creative videos that accompanied news reports on the Aarushi Talwar murder a few months ago?). It’s all the more effective because this last sequence looks so different from the rest of LSD; it’s the only scene in the film that could recognisably have come out of a “normal” multiplex movie. In other words, some of the stuff we can see on our news channels now is more filmi (in the conventionally defined sense of the word) than some of the stuff we might actually see in our films. (I also thought there was something sly about the fact that the words “Directed by Dibakar Banerjee” first appear as this scene begins, almost as if he’s telling us, “Well, this music video is the bit that I directed – the rest of the film is just handycam and CCTV footage.”)
Secondly, the film-within-the-film in the first segment was too over the top for my liking. Even if one accepts that Rahul is an incompetent, dork-ish film student, the movie he’s making seems like a deliberate parody of mainstream Bollywood rather than a tribute. This diluted the impact of the segment for me, because it too thickly underlined the already-obvious divide between the world of DDLJ (with the girl’s stern father melting in the end) and the “real-life” story of Rahul and Shruti. And I’m not sure about this, but part of the problem could be that Dibakar Banerjee himself is openly contemptuous of the DDLJ brand of moviemaking, and not particularly interested in concealing this contempt. The segment would have been more effective if we were allowed to empathise just a little more with Rahul’s romantic idealism and mainstream-movie love, rather than see him as a fool whose mind has been addled by Bollywood.