Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh, Anil George
Directed by Ashim Ahluwalia
Film festivals are a great place to find films you would not find anywhere else. Many of the films, both foreign and domestic, will not play theatrically anywhere else and may not even make it to VOD/DVD. This year the Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City program featured films from Mumbai India. Looking them over I found a few I thought I’d check out, including Miss Lovely directed by Ashim Ahluwalia. Everywhere I researched the film it was described as being about two brothers who hit it big making horror-porn films in the mid 1980s. But don’t get fooled by what I amount to as clever marketing ploys. This is not exactly the film you may think it is.
Miss Lovely follows the life of Sonu (Siddiqui) who along with his brother Vicky (Anil George), produce low-budget sleazy horror films in Bombay. While Vicky clearly loves the money and lifestyle of splicing pornography into C-grade films, he wants more. Vicky convinces his brother that cutting out their less than above board backers is a good idea. Of course it isn’t and Vicky pays for it. This event only helps motivate Sonu who has never enjoyed making low-grade movies and has always wanted to make mainstream romance films. Enter Pinky (Niharika Singh), an exquisite ingenue with a shady past, and Sonu hasn’t only found his lead lady, but perhaps his partner for life.
I had always thought India had pretty strict rules and regulations when it came to their film industry and never thought I’d hear the words Indian-Horror-Porn come up in my lifetime so I jumped at the chance to delve into the world of this underground film industry.
Miss Lovely is not a horror film. In fact, it has very little content with regards to horror films. Miss Lovely also isn’t a porn film and contains very little sex related material. There is a small amount of horror film and porn footage and some on set shots of the making of said films. The content was more underwhelming than expected especially when the sex scenes consisted of little more than bare breasts and “heavy petting.” Those expecting explicit or boundary pushing material may be disappointed.
Miss Lovely is actually a family drama meets love story set in the seedy underbelly of the Bombay film industry. On this level the film is generally successful. Sonu’s relationships with Vicky and Pinky are well developed despite the finale with regards to Pinky and Sonu not being fully explained. You truly do feel for Sonu as the meek brother who’s often bullied and taken advantage of. The film looks quite good as it manages to re-create the 80s look really well despite a few missteps with the camera work. But despite all that is good about the film, there’s still something lacking.
Miss Lovely is a film that I think falls prey to false expectations. Going in expecting anything relating to the horror or porn genres would be a mistake. Unfortunately, those were the aspects of the film I found most interesting. Director Ashim Ahluwalia had originally set out to make a documentary about the Indian “horror porn” industry in the 80s and his research shows through in this film. Those aspects of the film are not only entertaining but educational. Kinda makes me wish he had stuck to making the documentary rather than this Lovely Miss.