Whoa! Dibakar Banerjee makes a film that could be given out to students of mass media around the world along with copies of Marshall McLuhan's book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”.
McLuhan couldn't have been prouder with this updated thesis that proves and applies his “The medium is the message” theory to the tech-savvy modern world. Dibakar has fused the medium and the message in a way that they are intrinsic to each other, but in a way never attempted before.
Yes, we've had the likes of The Blair Witch Project, September Tapes, Cloverfield or Paranormal Activity or Michael Mann's digital action films that have tapped into the potential of the medium, but here's a film that demands a mix of media to tell its story about the impact of the medium and its relationship with society.
For long, film cameras have been our window to love stories and candy floss, and the medium of escape has delivered many ‘happily ever-afters' because our cinema has strongly believed that Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. There's an obvious huge disconnect between that world as seen through the film camera and the same recreated through a video camera, simply because the larger-than-life elements recreated on a tool used for hard news gathering will yield results that are at best laughable.
The first in the inter-connected stories explores the relationship between the young naïve believers of cinema and the male chauvinistic society, and life meets film. We see this story through the eyes of a video camera that records the larger-than-life (film), the intimately personal (as the filmmaker confides to the handycam, addressing Aditya Chopra, the guy to have given an entire generation hope that you can manufacture parental consent for your love story) and a tool that also captures the brutal realities of life by becoming a silent observer documenting the consequences of life imitating art. The film and video cameras represent romance or love (from the title) because they tell stories that are personal.
The second story in the film is all about the other big revolution in recording life — the omnipresent surveillance cameras that are watching and recording every single move of ours in public spaces. We are aware of their existence and trust on those managing it to not exploit the medium. Our behaviour and relationship with these cameras is defined by our reluctance to do anything remotely private in public eye. Which is what makes voyeurs excited about the potential of this technology. Dibakar captures the primal need for sex in a story where the controllers of the medium take advantage of the subjects at their most vulnerable state.
The third and final story is about how the intrusive medium can be used to completely betray the subject because the person who is being watched may have absolutely no clue that a spycam is capturing every bit of his deepest, darkest secrets.
Yet, there's love, sex and dhoka in all three stories, and the genius filmmaker connects them in a way that these stories influence and resolve each other, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better.
The ensemble is just brilliant, and at no point in the film do you see them as actors. This is reality cinema at its best with all elements you usually associate with the larger than life genre — romance, action, comedy, song and dance. But, most importantly, it holds a mirror to male-chauvinist society and shows us our ugly side — we at our most unflattering, despicable real selves. Yet, it leaves us with a little hope of what we are capable of doing.
Clearly, the best film to have come out of Hindi cinema in ages.
Love, Sex aur Dhoka
Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Handycam, CCTV, Spycam and some humans — Anshuman Jha, Shruti, Raj Kumar Yadav, Neha Chauhan, Amit Sial, Arya Devdutta, Herry Tangri.
Storyline: The life and times of three couples as seen through cameras
Bottomline: A historic piece of cinema guaranteed to revolutionise independent filmmaking in the country.