Have we grown up, finally?
I don’t think so. But it sure is our lucky day when a female director, a female script-screenplay writer and Sunny Leone come together to give us an “adult” drama about casual sex, perfect marriages and the hypocrisy of men. I tip my hat to this trio while shaking my booty to my favourite song of the week, Do peg maar aur bhool ja, do peg maar aur…
But be warned. If you were planning on One Night Stand as a date film where you’d get frisky, then, as many sad-faced boys in the hall would tell you, this is not that film. It has nice sex scenes, but it’s not a make-out film. Apart from one shot which was, pretty much, “Here are her breasts, okay. Happy!” the film doesn’t have a male gaze.
What is very special about first-time director Jasmine Moses-D’Souza’s film is not just the fact that it doesn’t go crawling up and down Sunny Leone’s body like a dazed and horny squirrel, but also that she’s been given a very interesting character with substance, conflicting shades and great lines.
Most of Bollywood would consider this a complete waste of time and Sunny Leone, including the great Mahesh Bhatt.
But what do they know. It’s refreshing and Sunny Leone has stepped up to the task. She plays the complication that is life rather well.
If all this while you’ve been racking your brains about what exactly does Niranjan Iyengar, that strange man who keeps appearing in promos for his even stranger interview with Bollywood stars TV show, do, here’s the answer: He’s written the dialogue for this film and they are not bad. Here’s one: “When in Phuket, just f*** it.”
That’s the sentiment on which the film takes off.
Urvil (Tanuj Virwani), whose reminiscing voiceover forms the parentheses in which the film is contained, is the blue-eyed, fast-tracker employee at an events management company in Pune and is organising a fashion show in Phuket, Thailand.
While he’s busy conducting the show, a mystery woman brushes past him, her red, sheer stole caressing him and, instantly, arousing and intriguing him. That’s Celina.
We gather from banter amongst colleagues that though Urvil is married to Simran (Nyra Banerjee), whom he “loves”, he is a player. We also gather that he has it all figured out.
Despite the sound counsel of his sensible friend and colleague David (Ninad Kamath), he says with smug hypocrisy that what he does ghar ke bahar should not matter to the ghar-waali because he provides for her, and she always looks happy.
It’s only on the rare occasion that his festering shame erupts to attack and punish the innocent. Mostly he takes care to iron out the minor creases of guilt with sparkling presents in velvet boxes.
But he’s now in Phuket where the event of the film’s title takes place.
It’s over and done for one by the time the sun comes up, but not for the other. Both have a great time, but while one returns to normal life, the other just can’t stop obsessing over that night. And here on roles don’t just get reversed from the terribly misogynistic Fatal Attraction, but go cooly subversive.
One Night Stand is an adult drama in a contemporary and mature setting.
Bhavani Iyer’s screenplay and D’Souza’s direction very intelligently bring out the dishonesty inherent in most marriages and relationships.
It glances at the lovey-dovey banality of perfect marriages, the accessories that come with it — commitments that become chores, dinners, family, friends — and at attempts at breaking out of this banality to continue living with it.
Yet the film is non-judgmental about extramarital sex. The way it is conducted and performed, it rather enjoys it, seeing it as sex for sex’s sake, and great sex at that.
As if that wasn’t enough, it then does what few films have done before — it makes the man more invested in a casual thing, while for the woman it’s “sirf physical attraction”. She has physical needs, acts to have them met, but then likes to return to her regular life.
The writer-director pile on convention on the unconventional woman and then make her uber cool — a sensible, sorted, grown-up woman who doesn’t just have a mind of her own, but speaks it. Loud and clear.
There’s dishonesty, deception at both ends, but hypocrisy dwells mostly on one side.
One Night Stand trains its unconventional gaze at the man, at men’s attitude to the women they sleep with, at marital rape, and shows us where hypocrisy lives and breathes.
Tanuj Virwani is very well cast and is very good. Nyra Banerjee is decent.
Sunny Leone, however, is stunning. She emotes well and delivers her lines with a mix of oomph and savviness: “Dekh liya. Try kar liya. That’s it.”
I like. Very much.