Hell is where Karan Razdan takes us in "Girlfriend". Nothing wrong in a view from the underbelly. But alternate sexuality cannot be turned into an occasion for exhibitionism.
Razdan discards every sensitive bone in his creative body to make a frontal attack on our perceptions of romantic love as defined by cinematic boy-meets-girl formulas.
In "Girlfriend", Aashish Chowdhary meets Amrita Arora. But she, the poor babe in the woods, has a problem -- an over-possessive female friend Tanya (Isha Koppiker) who is a closet lesbian.
Hindi cinema comes of age... or does it?
It's hard to believe that during all the years they spent together, living out of the same house and even the same bed, Sapna (Amrita) didn't suspect Tanya's lesbian intentions, more so when Sapna finally confesses to her boyfriend Rahul (Ashish Chowdhary) that the two female friends had "done it" in a drunken stupor once.
Razdan's cavorting camera quickly cuts to a lengthy and explicit love making sequence between Amrita and Isha whose impact is deliberately heightened by the soundtrack.
If Razdan truly wanted to portray the downside of misplaced sexuality, why did he need to take his two heroines into bed? There are many other far more aesthetic and effective ways of showing intimacy between two individuals.
At every step of his narration, Razdan wants to shock audiences. Hence what begins as a fairly authentic story turns into a macabre "Fatal Attraction" kind of horror story, with Isha going from restrained dominance to violence, kick-boxing et al!
To her credit, Isha rides the waves of absurdity in the plot to emerge with a rounded and credible performance.
Her transformation in the second-half from closet gay to brazen lover girl is achieved through her body language, hair and clothes, as well as the actress' sharply desolate eyes. A lot of her performance in the second-half seems inspired by Urmila Matondkar in "Pyar Tune Kya Kiya".
Amrita is sufficiently squeaky and mousy. But when she takes turns with her female co-star to cavort in swimming pools, she tends to get carried away.
Even though he does play a guy in a very strange situation, Aashish Chowdhary should have exercised more self-control, specially over his facial muscles.
He needn't despair. "Girlfriend" is a film about excesses. Though the mounting is professional enough to make us forget the director's last sojourn into sleaze, "Hawas", "Girlfriend" is still not honest enough to qualify as a serious study of alternate sexuality.
Before plunging into lesbianism, Razdan needed to research his subject as well as the main character's psychological encumbrances. In one sequence, Tanya says she was violated repeatedly by her father.
Need we go on with this? "Girlfriend" makes us wonder where erotica is heading in Hindi cinema, and in how many ways filmmakers would circumvent conventional morality to get the audience interested.