As end credits roll down for 'Not A Love Story', one remembers Ram Gopal Varma's oft repeated statement in his defence that all he was doing was telling a tale from an outsider's perspective who never had any clue around what really happened behind closed doors. Was the character of Mahie Gill being 'emotionally raped' by Ajay Gehi? Did she sleep with him at her own free will? Did Mahie actually make Deepak Dobriyal an X, a short form of a word which is unprintable here but is pretty much mouthed in the film? Ramu pretty much puts all the cards on the table and asks audience to pick and choose.
What is known to one and all is the fact that NALS is about an aspiring actress who had no other choice but to aid her boyfriend after he had killed her producer friend in a fit of rage. So far so okay. However what makes the film much more interesting thereafter is the aftermath of the murder being committed. It is these portions of the film that end up not just surprising the audience but also shock at more than just a couple of places.
An attempt by the couple to dispose of the body, the investigation that follows, the crime that gets solved within hours - all of this is deftly handled by Ram Gopal Varma in those 20-25 odd minutes, something that many story tellers would have actually spent an entire film on. In fact the moment Zakir Hussain (playing a senior cop) comes into picture; NALS takes a turn for the better because there is no stopping from that point on.
However what makes NALS extra special is the three-way courtroom scenes that follow. I don't remember seeing any movie till date, whether in Hindi or another language, where there are as many as three lawyers fighting a case from three different perspectives. So while prosecution looks at getting maximum punishment for both Mahie and Deepak, there is a defence lawyer each (Darshan Zariwala and Ganesh Yadav respectively) fighting their respective cases. With three conflicting line of arguments being fought, it makes for a compelling viewing.
What also makes NALS special is the technique used in this story telling. So while conventional shot taking technique is completely done away with here, the hand held camera does the trick by capturing characters at their closest best. So whether it is Mahie changing her clothes to selecting the one that goes with her visit to the police station, camera captures her from all flattering. In fact one can clearly sense that Ramu allows the voyeur in him (and also the audience's) set free by literally thrusting the camera from all angles on Mahie, hence even making it all seem like soft porn at places.
However all of this is pretty much compensated with some quintessential Ram Gopal Varma method of movie making with the background score (Sandeep Chwota), unconventional camera angles and small scenes that don't last more than a minute each amalgamating well to come up with a crisp affair. In the end what remains with you is shock value which is created when three different point of views come alive on screen through the written word. Eventually 'Not A Love Story' establishes pretty much loud and clear all over again that playing safe and conventional is definitely not Ramu's endeavour.
Mahie Gill does quite well as someone who had Bollywood dreams in her eyes and was now living the nightmare of a murder. While in the first half she exposes to the maximum extent ever for a mainstream heroine, in the second half she doesn't allow the no-make up look to bog her down at all. Deepak is good yet again though his maniac act does start seeming a little too unrealistic, especially during the later portions of the film. Ajay is likeable and your sympathy goes to him since he is shown as someone who meant no harm to anyone. Zakir Hussain is excellent though in practically every scene that he appears.
Just when one thought that Ram Gopal Varma is back to violent sagas surrounding gangsters (Rakht Charitra - a very good film nonetheless) for good, he comes up with a film which could well have been titled 'A Violent Love Story' and the essence would still have remained just the same. However he chooses to name it 'Not A Love Story' which not just manages to intrigue the audience but also fits in well with the dramatic tale that he wanted to tell.