A shock wave?

Vivek Agnihotri It’s been a good five years since his last release De Dhana Dhan…Goal, but adman-turned-director Vivek Agnihotri has ensured that his new film refreshes public memory about his directorial skills, if anyone had let it fade. Hate Story, releasing on April 20, has not just created a shock wave with its first look of its bare-backed lead actor Paoli Dam but has engaged audiences with its trailer as well.

The content and its treatment are already getting favourable reviews. Elaborating on how he bagged the chance to direct this unique script, Vivek describes his film as ‘erotica’. “I have been writing on erotica quite a bit, and boldness is part of it. I guess Vikram (producer Vikram Bhatt) just wanted someone gutsy enough to handle the film and he thought I fit the bill.”

Hate Story is about a reporter named Kavya (played by Bengali actor Paoli Dam), who is psychologically and physically abused by an industrialist (played by Gulshan Devaiya) whose company she reports against. Thereafter begins her revenge, using her body as a weapon against her tormentors.

“I am someone who likes to call a spade a spade, and so is Vikram. This is a taut and gripping script and I wanted to film it in the manner of European cinema. I didn’t want titillation in the name of erotica. I told Vikram that if that was what he wanted me to do then I was not the man he was looking for. But he understood what I was saying and gave me a completely free hand to handle the subject,” he says, adding that erotica is the zenith of creativity.

However, neither the decision to sign the film nor its execution was easy. “I thought for the longest time if I really wanted to direct an erotic film. There is such a thin line dividing erotica from cheapness. But then I realised I had come to Mumbai to learn to make films of different types. After I said yes and started shooting, I shot all the scenes in the way any other would have been shot,” he says, alluding to the explicit content of the film.

Paoli Dam, who has become a household name thanks to her explosive start, was chosen because of her zero exposure to the Hindi film world. “We were lucky to get Paoli. I wanted a brilliant actor for Hate Story who would be covered from head to toe, yet convince people that this film was erotica. After all, every second film has a girl in a bikini nowadays! Also men’s fantasy works only with a new face every time, so I wanted a fairly new face for my film,” says Vivek. Paoli, who was then at Cannes for her acclaimed film Chhatrak directed by Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara, caught his eye.

“I had told Paoli that she would have to stand and shoot naked in front of my entire crew if need be and she agreed. She is fabulous and powerful in the film,” he adds. Vivek is all praise for his antagonist, Gulshan Devaiya, who plays Siddharth Dhanrajgir in the film. “He will revive this anti-hero trend set by Shah Rukh Khan. Watch out for him as also for Joy Sengupta!”

What’s next?

After Hate Story releases, he will begin the post-production work and promotions of his movie Buddha In A Traffic Jam. “It is a collaborative effort of 570 ISB Hyderabad students, whom I call the future CEOs of this country, and me. It’s my most satisfying film till date. It’s a political drama which made me grow not just as a director but also as an individual.” He is also finalising a film called Freedom, which chronicles the Indian youth’s ambition since Emergency. “It has nothing to do with the freedom struggle of our country, but freedom of thought, of the mind.” R. Madhavan has already been signed up to play one of the leads in the film.

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