WBRi Movie Review: HATE STORY (2012) - Erotic Thriller Features Bengali Actress Paoli Dam in Bollywood Debut

HATE STORY (2012) HINDI movie poster

Kolkata, April 21, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Very few of the contemporary leading stars from the Bengali film industry have managed to make it big in Bollywood. In fact, it is pretty difficult to think of anyone else apart from Jaya Bhaduri, Sharmila Tagore and Mithun Chakrabarty, who has achieved any great success in Hindi films. Even Rituparna Sengupta, who has been ruling Tollywood for so many years now, has only a single Bollywood hit to her name, ‘Main Meri Patni Aur Woh’ (and several duds to go with it!). Prasenjit Chatterjee, one of the biggest names in the Bengali film fraternity, has not fared much better in Hindi films either (some would, in fact, say worse!).

Trailer: Hate Story (Hindi, 2012)

Director Vivek Agnihotri, who had previously been at the helm of rather unsuccessful films like ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal’ (sic!), makes a comeback of sorts with his newest flick, ‘Hate Story’.

Touted as one of the first erotic thrillers in Indian cinema, ‘Hate Story’ also marked the debut of the immensely talented Bengali beauty, Paoli Dam, in Hindi movies. Will the film live up to its hype and help Paoli get off to a strong start to her career in Mumbai? The actress does come up with a stunning performance in ‘Hate Story’.

‘Hate Story’ relates the tale of the young and gorgeous ‘Kavya Krishna’ (Paoli Dam), who dreams of making a name for herself in the world of journalism. A sincere and dedicated professional to the core, ‘Kavya’ takes her profession as a reporter extremely seriously and is truly honest to her trade. However, we cannot have the leading lady of a Bollywood flick to lead a straightforward, corporate life right through the movie, can we? (!) ‘Kavya’ accordingly falls for the charms of the extremely wealthy and dashing ‘Siddharth Dhanrajgir’ (Gulshan Devaiya). The two exchange sweet promises and ‘Kavya’ dreams of a successful and cosy life with the man of her dreams. The lady is in for a rude shock though, for this is no ordinary romantic tale!

‘Siddharth’, who had put up a facade of complete trust and commitment during the early stages of his affair with the gullible ‘Kavya’, turns out to be a person with thoroughly evil motives. Not only does he exploit ‘Kavya’ physically, but he also conspires to ruin her professional career as well. This, quite understandably, leaves ‘Kavya’ in a broken state and robs her of the ability to trust another man in her life ever again.

The devastated young lady finds sympathy from only one source – her close friend ‘Vicky’ (Nikhil Dwivedi), who helps ‘Kavya’ to recover somewhat from her terrible predicament. However, ‘Vicky’ never quite manages to tell ‘Kavya’ that he secretly nurses intensely romantic feelings for the latter.

Circumstances do not go in favour of the feisty ‘Kavya’ either. Shunned by everyone (apart from ‘Vicky’), she is forced to take up the job of a sex worker to earn her living. ‘Kavya’ holds ‘Siddharth’ responsible (justifiably of course!) for destroying her whole life and putting a dampener to all her simple aspirations. While ‘Kavya’ is left with no other option but to sell her body, the desire to get even with her tormentor remains burning strongly in her heart.

Will the determined (and much maligned!) ‘Kavya’ be able to exact her revenge on the scheming ‘Siddharth’? Can ‘Vicky’ express the true feelings of his heart to ‘Kavya’? The answers are all on the big screen!

‘Hate Story’ is one of those films which promise so much with a taut and gripping basic premise. The movie had generated considerable buzz prior to its release, due to Paoli Dam’s bold, topless act in the film. Unfortunately, these steamy sequences remain the biggest highlights of ‘Hate Story’, with the narrative often bordering on the slack and unsteady side. Director Vivek Agnihotri tries his best to lend a stylish and sophisticated feel to the movie, but, ‘Hate Story’, taken in its entirety, relies too much on its erotic content to see it through at the box-office (never a really safe idea!).

Paoli Dam comes across as a complete natural in ‘Hate Story’. It is pretty difficult to think of any other actress who could have brought greater credibility to the role of ‘Kavya’ in the film. The dusky actress is completely inhibition-free (so much that, even the posters of the movie hinting at naked visuals had generated considerable attention!), but the beauty of her performance lies in the fact that, she actually manages to make the viewers feel the internal pains and sufferings of her character. Paoli’s slightly drawling dialog delivery works wonders for her role in ‘Hate Story’ and the changes that ‘Kavya’ undergoes as fate piles on heaps of misfortune upon her are portrayed in a totally believable manner. ‘Kavya’s quest for revenge in the second half of the movie is rather stereotypical though and does not quite warrant unwavering attention from the audience. The climax is downright predictable too, making ‘Hate Story’ a rather bland fare.

The other actors in ‘Hate Story’ are, however, slightly uneven with their performances. Gulshan Devaiya, as the villainous ‘Siddharth’, is efficient in his role. After his sincere acts in ‘Shaitan’ and ‘That Girl In Yellow Boots’, Devaiya further affirms his credentials as a fine young actor in ‘Hate Story’. He brings the necessary malignant evilness to his character in the movie and often appears as way too formidable for ‘Kavya’, who is seeking revenge against him. Nikhil Dwivedi, as ‘Vicky’, suffers from a sketchily written character in ‘Hate Story’, however. Dwivedi, who was last seen in the thought-provoking ‘Shor In The City’, does not get much scope to perform here and is mostly reduced to the role of a silent, sympathetic witness to ‘Kavya’s tribulations. Mohan Kapur is just about okay. Bhairavi Goswami does justice to her role in ‘Hate Story’. Joy Sengupta appears rather stiff in front of the camera. The others, pitted in relatively inconsequential roles, are nothing to write home about either.

‘Hate Story’ (apart from its rather unique title!) starts off with a bang, with one of the most captivating main movie plots of recent times. Paoli Dam repays the faith of the makers of casting her as the main protagonist of the movie with a totally outstanding performance. However, as the reels move on, the movie becomes a classic case of style over substance, with the glossy sets being unable to mask the fact that ‘Hate Story’ could easily have been a much, much better film. Editing, by Satyajit Gazmer, is slack (particularly so in the second half of the movie) too. At slightly under two hours, ‘Hate Story’ has just about the right running time for a thriller movie.

There is, however, absolutely no room for complaint regarding the visual treatment of ‘Hate Story’. Cinematographer Attar Singh Saini ensures that the sets of the movie are captured in a stylized manner and there is a general air of opulence about the entire film. Dialogs, written by Rohit Malhotra, are okay but they do sound a little contrived during several sequences in the movie.

Harshit Saxena does a good job of developing the musical score of ‘Hate Story’. ‘Dil Kaanch Ka’, sung beautifully by Krishna Beura, is probably the pick of the songs in the film. ‘Mahee Jaan’ is quite hummable as well. While the songs do not have any great universal appeal, they blend rather nicely with the general narrative of the movie. Background music, by Amar Mohile, is loud and grating, and is not quite up to the mark.

Director Vivek Agnihotri makes sure that ‘Hate Story’ is a movie that is extremely easy on the eye, with its swanky production values and imaginative shots. Paoli Dam steals the show with a quite magnificent performance as the leading lady of the film too. The excess of sex scenes in ‘Hate Story’ does not work in its favour either. The movie definitely has its fair share of interesting moments, but they do not quite combine to make the overall film a captivating one. Go for it if you really wish to catch Paoli’s nuanced Bollywood debut!

Paoli Dam manages to make a mark with a powerful performance in ‘Hate Story’. Nothing else associated with the movie is half as strong, however!