Love, Sex Aur Dhokha has left censors in a tizzy over a 7.5 minute sex scene that some dub as the boldest ever. Sunday Mid Day tracks down the cast whose identity producers have chosen to hide, to figure why debutantes, some even serious theatre actors, would sign up for what the world views as a sleaze fest
There has been great curiosity over who exactly will make up the cast of Dibakar Banerjee's Love, Sex aur Dhokha. Well, the cast is packed with freshers. A nationwide hunt for new faces with a rigorous multi-audition process led to the finalisation of six actors, some with a strong background in theatre, others with no previous acting experience. What followed was a two-month intensive workshop that began in the second half of last year. The actors say the initial weeks were engineered to help each of them get into character since most of them are miles away from the personalities they play. In the final 15 days, they began rehearsing scenes and dialogues. Meet the bold and fearless seven:
Anshuman Jha plays Rahul
The 24 year-old theatre actor-director is the guy behind the youngest theatre group in the country, First Ray Theatre Group. He plays a Bollywood buff who believes that just like in the movies, his life will sort itself out in the end. Anshuman, who admits that this may just be the ugliest debut of the year, has turned down roles in big-budget films Wake Up Sid (starring Ranbir Kapoor) and Delhi Belly (produced by Aamir Khan) because he was clear he wanted to play lead in a film by Dibakar Banerjee. "I mean no offense to anyone but I wanted to play the lead. Why should I play the hero's friend just because I'm not Rishi Kapoor's son or Aamir Khan's nephew?" he asks. Anshuman admits to having enjoyed the experience and having no apprehensions with the sexual content of the film.
Shruti plays Shruti
The actor who has a Telegu film to her credit, shares her name with her screen character and is cast opposite Anshuman. Her audition was gruelling, she says, one where she had to enact breaking down. Her final tears were those of frustration, and that did the trick. Shruti says she's only concerned about her role rather than the overall film. "When Ekta (Kapoor) said this was a bold film, my dad asked me how I was choosing my films. I don't know what the rest of the film holds. I'm going to watch it with my parents for the first time. Let's see."
Raj Kumar Yadav plays Adarsh
The actor who plays Adarsh, a know-it-all, read about the auditions in a newspaper. The 25 year-old theatre actor from Delhi, says, "I am an actor and have to give my 100 per cent. I have no apprehensions about bold cinema. I want to show people my work." He hopes though, that he's not typecast as the sleazy guy in future projects.
Neha Chauhan plays Rashmi
"Dibakar was going through a few north Indian wedding videos and he spotted me in my brother's wedding video. As I am told now, he paused, shut his eyes and decided I'd play Rashmi," says the 22 year-old from Indore who landed in Mumbai to be a filmmaker. Her character Rashmi's life is seen though a CCTV camera in a departmental store. When she was offered the film, Neha was keen on working behind the scenes, but her acting stint has left her wanting more. Neha says her family was clueless about her decision. "My family does not watch movies or too much television. When the trailers aired, someone else told them that I was in a film."
Amit Sial plays Prabhat
Amit, who was previously seen in Tanuja Chandra's Hope and a Little Sugar was, "after Dibakar's life for the last three years. I got to know about the auditions and called him a thousand times." Perseverance landed him the role of Prabhat, a journalist looking for a last sting operation to revive his career. "Dibakar told me it would be an experimental film, and I loved that. My only concern was that the audience would see my co-actors more than me (he carries the camera that films the sting). But it was a challenging task to handle the camera."
Arya Devdutta plays Naina
Playing Naina, the sometime glamorous, sometimes coy girl, was a tough task since on the second day of shooting, Arya hit her head on an iron rod and had to be rushed to hospital. She managed the rest of the acting pumped up by antibiotics. Yet the 22 year-old had no second thoughts. "You know Dibakar Banerjee will not make a sleaze fest. My character is the sexiest of them all, but has the least provocative scenes," says the Kolkata girl who is a trained actor. LSD is her first professional assignment. Dancing while shooting the promotional video was a challenge, though, and she is still nursing bruised knees.
Herry Tangri plays Loki Local
As pop star Loki Local, 26 year-old Herry had to learn to play the guitar for a month. But since he sings, the challenge was a bit easier. "I was very impressed with Dibakar's previous films. I knew he would make a good film." Herry says he has the support of family and friends who hope he does his best. The fear of being typecast is hardly a bother. "People have played the role of a pop star before. It's not niche. So, I don't stand the risk of being typecast."
Director speak: 'People who are not comfortable with it, should not come and see it'
It's not about the seven-and-a-half minute sex scene. "It's about the absolute blurring of lines between private and public life. To which extent do we make our private life public and to which extent does the public see our private life," says director Dibakar Banerjee about next week's release Love, Sex aur Dhokha (LSD). The idea is to lend a peep into the voyeuristic side of our personality that we often don't wish to confront.
The title and promos that have raised viewer curiosity to a feverish pitch, already might not comply with his argument, so you'll just have to take the man's word. LSD might be that rare film that empowers you to set your own standards and live by them. "We have started defining ourselves by other people's standards. Our love life has to match up to traditions espoused by Bollywood. Magazines tell us about '10 ways to satisfy your lover' or 'How to find your G-spot'. But we must define our lives on our own terms."
This may sound great in theory but can you ignore that the film screams sex? While most viewers may be game to ogle at the film in private, how comfortable will they will be to watch it in a multiplex? "That is a difficult choice. People who are not comfortable with it should not come and see it. When you see an MMS sex clip of people you don't know, it's a vicarious pleasure. The camera does not show them talking or eating. You don't know who these people are before and after the sex act."
Dibakar promises that it's the stories that will stick with you. A film where the sex is out of context is boring, he shrugs. Through his characters you will live their pain, passion and pleasure. "You won't distance yourself from them. It will be a revelation," he smiles.
The film is not only breaking new ground with content, but is also changing the grammar of filmmaking. Dibakar has used the digital medium to film LSD. Certain chunks are shot on a CCTV camera, with the footage appearing grainy and actors not perfectly fitting frames. One of the characters undertakes a sting operation and the actor himself carries the hidden camera around to film his co-actors. While shooting scenes with nudity, Dibakar dumped soft lighting synonymous with dreamy bedroom scenes. Hard lightening portrays the actors as they really are, stripping filmmaking of its illusory character.
The Producer says: 'I was shocked'
The TV mogul who has made a fortune dressing her female television characters with pallu-over-head, is now out with a film that's in the news for serious erotica. Ekta Kapoor comes aboard LSD as producer, presenting the film under her banner ALT Entertainment, which will align its name with alternate filmmaking. "Who has the right to slot people? I am passionate about the film and that's why I am part of it," is her surprisingly candid retort. Ekta initially approached Dibakar to make a big budget film but he was keen on making LSD with a new cast. "I was shocked when I watched the film," admits Ekta, but quickly adds that she shares a similar work ethic with the director. "I am particular about the work my name is associated with. Dibakar too is extremely conscious about the films that carry his name." Like the sharp businesswoman she is known to be, Ekta has made sure this project's publicity doesn't hurt the mother brand Balaji Telefilms, thereby choosing to float ALT Entertainment, that will be producing black comedy Shor and Neeraj Pandey's next film.
(director of Naseruddin Shah-Anupam Kher starrer A Wednesday) next film.
What's love, sex aur dhokha about?
Rahul, a final year film student gears up for his diploma film. With his digital camera and an amateur cast, he starts etching the perennial themes of the great Bollywood love epic into his low budget magnum opus. While testing actors for his film, he falls in love with Shruti, who he casts as heroine. Somewhere in the same city, Adarsh, an unemployed young man, installs security cameras in a small upcoming 24-hour departmental store.
Under pressure to pay off a loan shark, he gets persuaded by a friend from the camera company to act in a porn clip recorded through the security cameras at the store.
In another corner of the city, Prabhat, once a committed sting journalist, tethers on the brink of collapse. When he meets Naina, a dancer, who is trying to commit suicide, Prabhat sees his last chance to set his life right with a sting that exposes India's biggest pop star, Loki Local
I don't know what the rest of the film holds. I'm going to watch it with my parents for the first time. Let's see
I mean no offense to anyone but I wanted to play the lead. Why should I play the hero's friend just because I'm not Rishi Kapoor's son or Aamir Khan's nephew?
I am an actor and have to give my 100 per cent. I have no apprehensions about bold cinema. I want to show people my work
Raj Kumar Yadav
My family does not watch movies or too much television. When the trailers aired, someone told them that I was in a film
You know Dibakar will not make a sleaze fest. My character is the sexiest of them all, but has the least provocative scenes
I was after Dibakar's life for the last three years. I got to know about the auditions and called him a thousand times