Not A Love Story attempts to unravel the abiding mystery of human nature and the extreme measures it resorts to when pushed to the brink. This is the frightening sobering life-changing story of Anusha Chawla (Mahie Gill) a small-town girl with big Bollywood dreams who ends up being an accomplice in a gruesome crime that leaves everyone who knows her aghast.
We certainly are left open-mouthed.
Indeed it is the normalcy of Anusha’s dreams and how drastically they get subverted within the time-frame of a few decisive days, that forms the core of the compelling often repugnant but always riveting crime drama.
Ramu’s camera is frequently more frenziedly crazy than the deeds of the protagonists. The frames are used as a wildly wicked playground to signify the unsettled mindspace of the couple. Gill and Dobriyal’s journey from desperate love to unthinkable crime is charted with a kind of subverted dismay that is the opposite of the dramatic sighs and gasps that Hindi cinema usually uses to punctuate crime dramas.
Sandeep Chowta’s background score tends to overpunctuate the point in the earlier portions. But towards the end when the film builds up a desperate atmosphere of a crime of passion with Zakir Husain pitching in a perfectly-modulated performance as a tired but canny police officer, the excessive margins in the film’s emotional graph are magically reduced and eliminated.
All the craziness of the camera angles become one with the insanity of crime committed by two people who before butchering their victim had probably only commited minor offences like maybe breaking a red light.
The sheer lunacy that divides normalcy from the unpredictability of life, is captured with a brutal forcefulness. Not a Love Story is not an easy film to watch. Crime has never looked more unglamorous on screen. Ram Gopal Varma just sucks you into the ghastly deed and doesn’t allow you a moment of respite from the savagely probing camera which seems to penetrate the mind and soul of the protagonists.
Deepak Dobriyal and Mahie Gill pull out all stops to deliver bludgeoning performances in this first-rate crime treatise.
And yes, the ironical use of the Varma’s Rangeela theme song drives home the message of a young wannabe star’s dream gone awry. You leave the film with the painful sound of crashing dreams reverberating in your ears.