Ashim Alhuwahlia's look back at Bollywood's filmy underworld
Mumbai, known as the hub of Hindi film production, is starting to produce and export (again) non-singing/dancing romantic comedies or thrillers. An in-between generation of film is starting to find its voice. And it speaks in varied tones.
Ashim Aluwhalia is on a steady roll.
After a certain success with his documentary John & Jane, which went down well in Toronto, his debut feature film Miss Lovely competed in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
He admitted that it was a work in progress, that it has been since 2009 when he shot it, and that indeed it would “continue to evolve” after being shipped back home.
“But there won’t be a Miss Lovely part Two,” the director said.
The film takes place in the Bollywood filmy underworld of the 1980s, a milieu where horror on celluloid is actually less frightening than the characters who people the milieu.
For Aluwhalia, form is the thing. Stylewise he says he’s influenced by the way Japanese film directors of the 60s and 70s integrated popular culture and their own specific cinema language, sometimes at the cost of their place in the studios.
But times have changed and there’s room for explorers like Aluwahlia, who also runs a commercial-making agency “to survive”, as he puts it.
Miss Lovely mixes staged action, documentary-type rough-riding close-ups, still photography focuses on architecture and blurr. It stars a significant up-and-coming Indian actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as a rather unlucky younger brother of a C-grade film “mogul”.
Incidentally, Siddiqui recently played one of the main roles in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, chosen for the Cannes Directors' Fortnight and the London Indian Film Festival, which shows that Aluwhalia has a good feel for casting, as well as photography.
Miss Lovely is clearly a film laboratory for Aluwalhia who promises to keep on searching for new formulae to shape the future of films out of India.