India serves up an erotic thriller that manages to not be much of either. But don’t fret, Hate Story has plenty of bad acting and spite against women to make up for it! The best part of the anti-woman themes is how much of it just seems automatic, as if director Vivek Agnihotri had bad things happen on autopilot. Characters are simply stereotypes, traced from the numerous late night cable thrillers Hate Story liberally cribs from. The only interesting aspect is the class warfare angle, as those with money are presented as corrupt and moral-less monsters. So, you know, pretty accurate. It’s that film where I agree with half of what it is saying, and am opposed to the other half. Total complication! ::shakes fist::
There has been the increasing trend in US politics to divide everyone into two camps, liberal or conservative, blue or red, Democrat or Republican. It stems from the two major US political parties, and a lot of issues involving teams and groups that would take thousands of words to explain. But basically, dividing issues sometimes demands a black and white look at issues. Hate Story is complicated, and smears the black and white into an ugly shade of grey. Don’t expect housewives to eagerly embrace this shade, what with the terrible views on women. Just because something is good in one aspect, but bad in another, doesn’t mean we should immediately disavow it. But you need to look at which points will have the most impact, and make your decisions based on your priorities. The problems in Hate Story destroy what would have been a cool film about socialism taking down corrupt capitalists, and flies in the face of the “treat everyone equally” aspect by making the women the punching bags. That’s not the kind of the world I want to endorse, so it’s time to tell the message of Hate Story, that the woman was ruined because she had “sex” and is now “barren”, to go fuck itself.
Hate Story is a flashy mainstream film, and makes no bones about being more pretty images than actual depth. And if Hate Story is honest about anything, it’s honest in the areas that aren’t flashy. The lines the prostitute says to Kavyah about how Kavyah is educated, so she must have already had sex, tells more about views on sexuality in India than all the sensual dance and seduction sequences throughout the film. Despite the not very explicit (by US standards) scenes here, actress Paoli Dam previously caused a stir due to a very explicit sex scene in Chatrak (which was deleted from the Indian version of the film, but has been leaked online and proved rather popular). Dam herself has spoken about how her passion for cinema gives her the strength to do scenes most Indian actresses wouldn’t dare. Her bravery is the kind of thing that should be breaking down walls, walls built up by some of the themes in Hate Story.
One thing Hate Story excels at is terrible actors. Beyond Gulshan Devaiya hamming it up every time he talks, some of the minor characters are just awful. A security guy named Major that Sid hires to bug Kavyah’s apartment says some of the dumbest things in the dumbest ways, my favorite being “Beautiful bitch, you’ll be finished!” Of course, the signature line of Hate Story is “I fuck the people who fuck with me!”, yelled by Sid several times in increasingly maniacal manners, and later repeated by Kavyah in increasingly taunting manners.
And SPOILERS below…
Muckraking journalist Kavyah Krishnan and her socialist pals spend their days investigating corrupt businessmen and exposing their crimes to the world. It’s one of those jobs that is hard work but feels good and creates powerful enemies.
The latest story is catching the CEO of cement company Cementec in a bribery scandal. This makes the news and everyone celebrates, except the company owner, who yells at his stuttering son Siddharth Dhanrajgir for being so incompetent in having the company he gave him get caught.
Siddharth invites Kavyah out for coffee, where he offers her a job at triple pay plus perks. Faster than you can say “Betraying the revolution”, Kavyah has switched sides and is now a capitalist, buying expensive purses and clothes, enjoying her new apartment, and enjoying the attention from Siddharth. After scoring a big deal on a business trip, they spend a night of passion together, in what is pretty risque for an Indian film, though not that out of place on the USA Network.
Back home, Kavyah thinks everything awesome is going her way, except she’s fired and Sid tells her to get lost via gunpoint – “I fuck the people who fuck with me!” Don’t worry, the humiliation train hasn’t stopped – she’s pregnant! Once Siddharth finds out, he agrees to meet her…so some goons can grab her and take her to a hackjob abortion clinic that makes her sterile as an added bonus.
Ashamed because women are only good for being virgins who bear children, Kavyah decides to get revenge by becoming the biggest whore in the universe and destroying Siddharth’s company and wealth. Thus the rest of the film is her sleeping her way back to Siddharth to humiliate him.
Hate Story is billed as a sexy thriller, but falls for many of the traps traditional Hindi cinema makes with female characters. Women just have to suffer, and strong women characters usually get killed off. Women are supposed to be incredibly sexy and hot, but also the most virginal of virgins, with catacombs of hymen poised to fight off any intruder. Thus the sex scenes in the beginning feel weirdly out of place. As they are somewhat sexy, but it’s obvious that Kavyah is no virgin. And yet, she’s damaged by this encounter. Kavyah’s ruinous event is when she is made sterile. It’s the final straw that costs her everything, from her self-worth to her parents. Yes, she’s abandoned by her parents, who can’t handle that traumatic events happened to their daughter and she’s suffering from PTSD from the kidnapping and forced surgery.
Since her parents don’t even want her, is it no wonder Kavyah decides she is worthless and now living only for revenge? She decides she might as well use her sexuality to get her to her target, because she feels she’s not worth anyone’s attention. Paying the most expensive whore in the city to teach her how to have sex without love, practicing on random dudes in the club, and then having a full borne affair with the new CEO of Cementec, who to top it all off is cheating on his sick wife.
Kavyah’s affair is made public when Sid has the cheating CEO gunned down and tries to frame Kavyah. She uses that infamy to blackmail her way to freedom and get appointed to the board overseeing the cement company, thus getting access to tax records. Because of her infamous status, news reporters pay attention to her as it means more people watching their shows. Kavyah’s return to socialism is complete with her taking down all of the companies Sid’s family runs via massive fraud, resulting in a lengthy prison term for Sid.
There will be no happy life for Kavyah, as happens to many women in Indian films, she’s not destined to live until the end, gunned down by the spurned wife of the cheating CEO. It’s supposed to be one of those eye for an eye revenge consuming you type deals. But it’s also just another example of women not getting a fair shake, and once their usefulness has completed, they are disposed of like trash. I know this is a common theme in Indian cinema because I follow many Indian film fans through their blogs, most of which are women, and all of which complain about this happening again and again.
I’ve always found it odd that India, the country that gave us the Kama Sutra, is so conservative when it comes to even simple kissing on camera. But, then, I live in a country where children can watch thousands of people be violently gunned down, but heaven forbid one woman have an orgasm… Let’s just agree that everywhere sucks and smash all the systems. Preferably with some dildos.
With all the stories of women getting dragged into vans and raped, I am thankful that none of that made it into Hate Story, especially since rape is often a feature of female revenge movies. Perhaps we’re helped that the van full of goons only took Kavyah to an illegal abortion clinic by Hate Story being made before all the recent media attention, but it also makes me fear for the sequel.
Rated 4/10 (Folger’s biggest crystal, payoff money, fellow woman of the night, spycam)
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