He’s known to make eccentric, unconventional drama. Belonging to a small clan of Indian independent filmmakers, Ashim Ahluwalia’s first film, John & Jane won him the prestigious National Award in 2007. His next feature film, Miss Lovely, which recently found itself in the spotlight at the Cannes Film Festival 2012, plunges into the grim underbelly of Mumbai, exploring the breeding grounds of C-grade cinema. Focusing on the lives of two brothers who work in this field, the film documents their downfall as they fall in love with the same woman. An orgy of blue films, love/lust, cops, money, power and betrayal, we catch up with Miss Lovely’s filmmaker right before the leaves for the French Riviera.
How does it feel to have your film, Miss Lovely nominated in the Un Certain Regard section this year? I’ve worked on this film for a long time and it wasn’t very easy to get it made, so it was really good news. It was nice to know that Miss Lovely was the only Indian film in the official Un Certain Regard selection. People are excited about the film, and that’s great.
Give us a sneak-peek into Miss Lovely. Miss Lovely takes place in Bombay during the mid-1980s and ends in the early 1990s. It’s the story of two brothers, Vicky and Sonu Duggal, who produce C-grade sex-horror films. In a sense, they are petty criminals since they interpolate illegal sex scenes into their films. The film charts six years in their lives, as well as in the lives of the people around them. There are many stories and characters that make up the film, so it’s difficult to sum it up easily, but ultimately it’s a tale of betrayal and doomed love.
How did the story and the script come about? Is there a personal experience behind it? Originally I wanted to make a documentary about the shooting of a real sex-horror film. So I spent time hanging out with the people behind the scenes, watching how they raised financed, shot sex scenes, evaded the censors etc. They were quite a wild bunch who introduced me to everyone in the C-grade industry at the time. But they were too scared to talk on camera because there was so much overlap with the underworld and many of the actresses were involved with prostitution, so the documentary I was trying to make never happened. The stories I heard and the characters I met became the basis for the script for Miss Lovely.
According to you, what is the potential for independent cinema in India today? With your film making it Cannes, do you feel this is a step closer for people in India to recognize and respect the stream? I hope so. I think the audiences in India are keen to watch more edgy cinema and not just be content with the usual fare dished out to them regularly. It takes brave distributors to make this change, though.
Lastly, what lies ahead? When do you plan to bring Miss Lovely to India and what is the next project you are working on? If all goes well, we are looking at having the film in India by the second half of 2012._
By: Radhika Iyengar
Follow me on twitter @radziyengar