Rating: *** 1/2
Which demons could possibly provoke two normal healthy ambitious young people to kill a man, cut his limbs into several pieces and attempt to dispose of his body in the thick jungles?
Not A Love Story attempts to unravel the abiding mystery of human nature and the extreme measures it resorts to, when pushed to the brink.
This is the frightening, sobering and life-changing story of Anusha Chawla (Mahie Gill), a small-town girl with big Bollywood dreams, who ends up being an accomplice in a gruesome crime.
We certainly are left open-mouthed.
Indeed it is the normalcy of Anusha`s dreams and how drastically they get subverted within the time-frame of a few decisive days, that forms the core of the compelling, often repugnant but always riveting, crime drama.
Ramu`s camera is frequently more frenziedly crazy than the deeds of the protagonists.
The frames are used as a wildly wicked playground to signify the unsettled mindspace of the lead couple.
Gill and Dobriyal`s journey from desperate love to unthinkable crime is charted with a kind of subverted dismay that is the opposite of the dramatic sighs and gasps that Hindi cinema usually uses to punctuate crime dramas.
Sandeep Chowta`s background score tends to overpunctuate the point in the earlier portions.
Zakir Husain pitches in a perfectly-modulated performance as a tired but canny police officer.
But towards the end, the film builds up a desperate atmosphere of a crime of passion with the excessive margins in the film`s emotional graph being magically reduced and eliminated.
All the craziness of the camera angles becomes one with the insanity of the crime committed by two people who, before butchering their victim, had probably only committed minor offences.
The sheer lunacy that divides normalcy from the unpredictability of life is captured with a brutal forcefulness.
Not a Love Story is not an easy film to watch. Crime has never looked more unglamorous on screen.
Varma just sucks you into the ghastly deed and doesn`t allow you a moment of respite from the savagely probing camera which seems to penetrate the mind and soul of the protagonists.
Deepak and Mahie pull out all stops to deliver bludgeoning performances in this first-rate crime treatise.
And yes, the ironical use of Varma`s Rangeela theme song drives home the message of a young wannabe star`s dream gone awry. You leave the film with the painful sound of crashing dreams reverberating in your ears.