• Platform: Zee5
  • Release Date: 25/02/2022
  • Cast: Vikrant Massey, Sanya Malhotra, Bobby Deol, Raj Arjun
  • Director: Shanker Raman

A Muslim butcher, Ashu (Vikrant Massey) and a Hindu chartered accountant Jyoti (Sanya Malhotra) decide to get married against the dictat of Jyoti’s family. Jyoti’s grandmother is the local MLA with a long history of violence. She is willing to kill for honor. Ashu’s father is already in jail after being falsely implicated in a gun-running case and Ashu is trying his best to get him out of prison. Ashu and Jyoti not only get married in the court of law but are also given 7 days to stay in a government safe house. The idea is to Jyoti’s family attend the court on a prefixed date, sign documents assuring that the couple will not be harmed, and then let them be as they are. Sadly, Jyoti’s grandmother sends a marauding assassin, Dagar (Bobby Deol) who shoots first and asks questions later to kill Ashu and bring Jyoti back to her so that she could kill her with her own hands.

Around the same time, DCP Sushil Rathi (Raj Arjun) is caught off guard as he has been using Ashu to nail the perpetrators in an illegal meat trade in return for releasing his father on bail. With Ashu stuck in the safe house, his plan quickly comes to a halt. The nefarious people involved in the meat trade are also not willing to let Ashu miss his delivery schedule and they come after him with all their might. It must be noted that Rathi has a personal tragedy that traces its link back to Dagar and his family. With all this happening in the background, Dagar shoots his way precariously close to the couple and a time comes when they feel that their brief marriage and life has finally come to an end. What happens next is what the film is all about.

I liked Love Hostel quite a bit. The film is just about 1 hour and 40 minutes long and in that short runtime, the director packs in a lot of content. Each of the major characters is rounded off well enough by the end of the film and we get an idea of what each of their motivations is for doing what they are shown doing. Jyoti somehow fell in love with Ashu and having tasted freedom when she was studying in Delhi, has both the courage and the resources to make her way out of a tight corner, and that she does effectively. While Ashu is no match for her, she still loves him and looks very content and at peace whenever she is allowed to be with him.

Ashu is torn between a lot of different predicaments. He wants to help get his father out of prison and for that, he has agreed to snitch for the police. While he is nervous and unsure about this aspect of his life he has no other option but to play along. At the same time, he is madly in love with Jyoti and understands the risks involved with the union. He is also never allowed to forget the fact that he is a Muslim by the people around him and that keeps playing an important role in how he deals with the people and what his perspective is of the world around him. Finally, when he meets with one personal tragedy after another, she ultimately shuns his inhibitions that have for so long been hardcoded in his personality and goes ahead and does something that is completely unnatural and yet the only right thing that he could have done.   

Dagar is a demented soul. Apparently, he lost his elder brother who he worshipped when the man committed suicide owing to his daughter eloping with someone with the aid of Dagar’s daughter. This incident pushes Dagar off the cliff and he has ever since made it a point to save his society from tarnishing its bloodlines by inter-caste marriages and he is willing to go to any distance to ensure that the girls and the boys of his society are saved. That is how he envisions his actions. In reality, he is a murderer who is defended by the local MLA because he not only does her dirty work but also makes such a statement of it that it helps strike fear in the hearts of her enemies. As the story progresses we see the limits to which Dagar is willing to go to kill Ashu and bring back Jyoti.

It is no surprise that when such well-rounded characters cross paths, the resulting story unequivocally generates enough power and intrigue to make the viewer take notice. The execution of the film is top-notch. The story is played out in a manner that sustains the interest and thrills till the end. The performances by the ensemble cast are brilliant. Sanya Malhotra has the right vibes and mannerisms to essay a character like Jyoti who is not afraid to talk back to the police and hijack a car at gunpoint when her face is still splattered with blood. Her camaraderie with Vikrant is on point and every time she looks at him with love and care, it feels as if they are a real couple trying to somehow survive a nightmare. This adds a lot to the character, enhances the believability of the tale, and also makes their tragedy and the suspense that much more nerve-racking.

Vikrant Massey is one of the premier actors of our times. He has the prowess to pull off comedy, tragedy, romance, and even psychotic renditions with equal ease and elan. In this film, he switches between being someone whose nerves are thumping up and down to someone who is looking into the eyes of his lover with nothing else on his mind to someone plagued by a tragedy and his inability to do something about it in a matter of minutes. I loved the bits where he expresses the fact that no matter what he does, he can never be in anyone’s good books. He also renders the tension and uncontrollable terror of being chased by a killer like Dagar with uncanny ease and realism. He complements Sanya perfectly and that is what makes their predicament and tragedy so real and haunting.  

Bobby Deol is on a path of resurrection in his career. First, it was Ashram and now it is Love Hostel. It takes a lot of courage to play a dark soul like Dagar who has absolutely no redeeming qualities. He has not more than a page of dialogue in the entire script. We never know why he is doing what he is shown doing apart from the orders that he receives from time to time. It is only in the climax that we understand what makes him tick and what is it that has filled him up with such hatred that he is not afraid to carry out a massacre in the name of saving the generation and society. This is easily Bobby Deol’s best performance in years and will do wonders for his career.   

My only issue with the film was with the amount of violence that Dagar was shown unleashing and how few consequences he has to face for it. At a point, he is shown murdering an entire safe house full of couples just to get to Ashu and Jyoti when he didn’t have to do it. He is shown killing entire families of people and no one comes looking for him. While the suspension of disbelief is required up to a certain extent in any film, these portions push the boundaries of that beyond the permissible limits.

Having said all that, Love Hostel is still a decent watch that I wouldn’t mind watching more than once. It has an interesting story, great characters, terrific performances, and a somewhat satisfying finale. One needs to accept it with an open mind to enjoy it. If you are hell-bent on exploring the on-your-face politics of it, chances are you will hate the film.    

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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