“Hate Story IV”… Like Mastizaade grabbing a quickie with Mughal-e-Azam, but even worse

Posted on March 15, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

The latest instalment in the Hate Story franchise is titled Hate Story IV, which instantly begs the question: Why the Roman numeral when the preceding films were simply numbered “2” and “3”? Isn’t this going to prove cumbersome when the eighteenth chapter rolls along? (And you know there’s going to be an eighteenth chapter. It’s the law of “erotic thrillers.” The actors keep making love on screen. The movies keep multiplying.) But back to the original question: However are they going to fit Hate Story XVIII on a poster? Or is this the director Vishal Pandya’s way of winking at us? Could the “IV” really be a hint that if this film were a person, it would be on intravenous therapy? The strain is showing — and not just on the bra straps.

The film opens with a killing. We catch Tasha (Urvashi Rautela) and Aryan (Vivan Bhatena) in the midst of a heated argument, and Rishma (Ihana Dhillon) walks in. There’s the sense that she’s caught them red-handed. She pulls out a gun and says, “Bistar ke oopar chadar badli jaa sakti hai… us chadar mein lipti mashooka nahin.” (You can change the covers on your bed but not the lovers wrapped in those covers.) Listening to this startlingly declamatory line, you feel you’re witnessing the birth of a new genre, soft-core porn with delusions of grandeur, the result of Mastizaade grabbing a quickie with Mughal-e-Azam. There’s a scuffle, and Aryan ends up shooting Rishma. We’re meant to think the death is accidental, but I’m betting that it was murder. Someone who speaks like that has forfeited the right to live.

Which brings me to the dialogues by ‎Milap Milan Zaveri, who, after his sweaty exertions on films like Grand Masti, is generally regarded as the K Asif of the genre. Consider the flashback between Aryan and a bikini-clad Rishma that plays out by a swimming pool. He embraces her from behind. “Did you miss me that much?” she asks. He replies, “I missed my morning gift.” At that moment, I began to regard Vivan Bhatena in a new light. Keeping a straight face through this exchange may be the Bollywood equivalent of Meryl Streep affecting a new accent. You don’t know what it takes till you try it. The scene continues. Rishma says her body is 65 percent water. Aryan replies, with the light of love shining in his eyes, “But I love you not 65, but 100 percent.” Or, as it must have read on the dialogue sheet, “But I love you not LXV, but C percent.”

The penchant for verbosity runs in the family, for here’s what Aryan’s brother, Rajveer (Karan Wahi), says when forcing himself on a woman: “I’m somebody who can get anybody but I want nobody except your body.” I wanted to take him to a corner and gently explain that he was mixing up his nouns and pronouns, but I figured this is what happens when you’re punished with Gulshan Grover for a father. Grover plays a mayoral candidate (in London; the cast of befuddled British extras provides another layer of entertainment), who meets Rajveer’s girlfriend at a party. Observing the similarities between father and son, she remarks, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” (The line is touchingly subtitled in Hindi: “Seb ped se zyaada door nahin girti.” Because you wouldn’t want to miss a single word!) Grover says, “Ek seb ke wajah se Adam jannat se nikaala gaya tha.” (It was because of an apple that Adam was driven out of Paradise.) I’d say that was also the point my self-respect nearly drove me out of the theatre.

What is this film? The posters lead you to expect an example of the KFC school of cinema, essentially an endless supply of breasts and legs — but the director chickens out when it comes to actually showing sex. He concentrates on plot, which is dafter than the dialogue. Put simply, it’s a wronged-woman-takes-revenge drama, a Zakhmee Aurat where, instead of being castrated, the men are asphyxiated in cleavage. Who is the audience, really? Horny teens have access to far more stimulating porn. (Added bonus: They don’t have to sit through Milap Milan Zaveri’s dialogue, given that the exchanges are essentially in the universal language of “ah”-s and “oh”-s.) Fans of thrillers can do far better than an Urvashi Rautela starrer. Who, then? The question has been haunting me XXIV/VII.

Copyright ©2018 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi