<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Vivek Agnihotri. Starring Paoli Dam, Gulshan Devaiah, Nikhil Dwivedi.
You’ve seen the posters and so you may not want to watch the movie. Promising lots of sex and sleaze, Hate Story turns out to be more revenge and rage. So if you’re looking for an alternative to Vicky Donor, then this shouldn’t be completely discounted.
On twitter, director Vivek Agnihotri has been talking about Hate Story calling it an erotic thriller and generally having it out with some tweeple who are complaining now that the film doesn’t have enough sex. Well it has more than your average Hindi film and the scenes are shot tastefully. There aren’t too many and the censors may have shortened the pleasure making here and there. Being introduced in Hate Story (as her first Hindi film) is Bengali actress Paoli Dam who has been saying that she’s interested in finding out the reception to her ‘bold act’ in the film (apparently she’s done a full-frontal shot in a Bengali movie). The reactions won’t be ‘hard’ to gauge, or perhaps they will be (pun intended)!
In Hate Story Paoli plays a sting journalist called Kavya Krishna. Her friend Vicky – who secretly has a crush on her, but you wonder if she’s that stupid she realises it only at the end when he tells her – helps her uncover a corruption scandal involving Siddharth Dhanrajgir (Gulshan Devaiah) and his father’s cement conglomerate. Siddharth is a bit bipolar, stuttering in front of his father’s overbearing gaze but turning into Mr Hyde after offering Kavya a job with his company, seducing her and getting her pregnant. He fires her, has her kidnapped and gets her baby aborted. Thus begins her tale of retribution, which she achieves by learning about ‘sex’ from a top prostitute played by busty Bhairavi Goswami, and sleeping with the enemies.
One could easily mock Paoli but she’s managed to pull off a decently convincing performance as a woman scorned. Some scenes have her looking very sexual minus the sophistication. Then there’s one scene of her making out in a car and with her coloured contact lenses and strange ‘I’m going to get you’ look she almost resembles the ghost girl from The Grudge! You can also get past the fact that she pronounces cement as see-ment (sometimes sounding like semen).
Gulshan Devaiah (read his interview here) who achieved great success with films like Shaitaan, That Girl In Yellow Boots and Dum Maaro Dum is adequately good in Hate Story. His stutter is a delightful nuance giving you clues as to his strained and unequal relationship with his father. But since Paoli plays the real bad guy in the movie, ‘bad boy’ Gulshan looks a tad out of his comfort zone but he’s still effective. Supporting cast members Joy Sengupta, Mohan Kapur and Gopal K Singh (particularly good) add meat to the plot.
Now there are some critics who complain that there’s not enough eroticism in the film, which is true and the filmmaker’s fault for promoting it that way. But then if there wasn’t enough story in it, the complaints would still be there.
Sure there are production issues, it’s a bit cliché (rain scenes), it may look a bit tacky in places: the scene where she’s making out with corrupt minister Mohan Kapur is particularly awkward for some reason. The background score (not the songs) is too loud and TV drama-like not complementing the scenes very well. But Hate Story has a nice twist in the end that even I didn’t see coming. If you want lots of sex, watch porn. Otherwise Hate Story isn’t a bad option if you’re thinking it’s only going to be tacky sleaze.