Loev (English, Hindi) - Review
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It is a challenge to distribute indie films in India. Seldom do they find a screening opportunity beyond a few film festivals. A case in point is Konkona Sen Sharma's directorial debut A Death in the Gunj (2016), which, even after being lauded across festivals, hasn't yet found a theatrical release.
In such a scenario, when Netflix picks an even lesser known film like Loev, it is a moment to cherish. Yes, it isn't a theatrical release, but it is out and accessible. And that's what matters. (Netflix has got some more indie films in its collection, should you want to watch. These include Miss Lovely, Gandu and Brahman Naman, to name a few.)
Love can be complicated and Loev doesn't make any attempt to simplify it for you. It doesn't even set a pretext. Instead, it takes you straight to its protagonist, a shirtless young man, preparing for a road trip, harrowed by the forgetfulness of his flatmate.
Beginning there, the film gradually and slowly unravels a triangular romantic equation between three young men. And rather than dwelling on how they met or what may happen to them, Loev stays focused on the equation while using conversations as the key storytelling device to expose just enough details about these characters that seem to matter to the story.
In between these conversations, it takes pauses to glance at the lushness of idyllic settings. The film is shot on location in and around Mumbai (Wai and Mahabaleshwar) but manages to very cleverly avoid the cluttered touristic places with the use of high-angle long shots.
The cinematographer doesn't seem to meddle with the setting too much to get a perfect shot. It just lets nature be, and captures its vastness in an unhindered way by distancing the camera as much as possible.
Similarly, the director doesn't meddle with the characters too much, just lets them explore nature as well as, maybe, the nature of their relationship. Not much really happens. And am glad that the screenplay allows the men to wonder, wander, think and agonize more than I have seen in some other LGBT films.
But if it was just about platonic exploration, the film might have become boring. So, the director has thrown in ample amount of sexual tension to keep the audiences hooked. And in dealing with sexual tension, Loev doesn't succumb to clichéd homoerotic depictions (remember Dunno Why Na Jaane Kyun from 2010?). Instead, like old romantic movies, it weaves a profound atmosphere with threads of vulnerability, muted agony, and unrequited desire. Loev thus hinges mostly on the sublime side of love.
I say mostly because the carnal isn't completely ignored. It is included as a significant plot point, which, although tackles the burgeoning sexual tension, also gives rise to a muffled cacophony of diverse emotions. These were a little hard for me to fathom, so I felt lost a bit after this point. Luckily the story had already reached its denouement by this time, so the confusion didn’t last too long.
Nevertheless, the silence of idyllic pauses could still manage to ring through the layers of conflicting emotions, establishing that the true grit of Loev lies in echoes of those quiet moments.
The actors deserve to be appreciated, especially the two leads Shiv Pandit and late Dhruv Ganesh. I had noticed Shiv in Shaitan (2011) where he had held his own among a rather skilled ensemble cast that included Kalki Koechlin, Kirti Kulhari (Pink), Niel Bhoopalam () and Gulshan Devaiah (Hunterrr).
I haven't seen any other work of Dhruv Ganesh. It was heartbreaking to learn that he passed away before the release of this film. The mischievous spark in his big eyes symbolised youthful energy, and coupled with some really good acting skills, he expressed sincerity, boredom, uncertainty and pain effortlessly. He was superbly talented. What a loss!
I was also saddened to read that the movie had to be shot in secrecy because of the growing vigilantism against homosexuality in the country.
Loev is a good film but given this news piece, it becomes an important film, which needs to be supported and encouraged. However, if you still live in denial of same-sex romance, it may not be an easy watch. So, do exercise your caution.
This review is by guest reviewer Jeet. Jeet is a workaholic turned film addict, and vice-versa. Basically, when he is not working, he is watching films. And when he isn't watching films, he is working. The funny thing is films are also a part of his work. Go figure! Jeet also blogs at https://www.facebook.com/groups/736281183136110/.
- Violence: A scene involving sexual violence
- Language: Suggestive at few places
- Nudity & Sexual content: Partial nudity and sexual content in one scene
- Concept: Gay themed love story
- General Look and Feel: Clean
Loev - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Facebook Twitter Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Bombay Berlin Film Productions, Four Line Films
- Producer: Arfi Lamba, Jasleen Marwah, Katharina Suckale, Sudhanshu Saria
- Director: Sudhanshu Saria
- Lead Cast: Shiv Pandit, Dhruv Ganesh, Siddharth Menon, Rishabh Chaddha
- Story: Sudhanshu Saria
- Screenplay: Sudhanshu Saria
- Cinematography: Sherri Kauk
- Editor: Nitesh Bhatia
- Music Director: Tony Kakkar
- Costume Designer: Rohit Chaturvedi
- Art Direction: Sweta Gupta
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 92 minutes
- Reviewer: Jeet
- Language: English, Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Romance