Beyond a certain point, this bloody, bloody automated, robotic violence starts to feel like an indulgence rather than a necessity. Instead of emphasizing the horror of the situation, cinema is about visually reveling in it. Instead of my dismay and revulsion at the inhumanity and monstrosity fueled with every step, I found myself numb and desensitized, if not becoming an all-out voyeur. In violent excesses, it has become difficult to find space to stop, assimilate and reflect.

Add to that Dagar’s backstory that felt like an explanation (with a dog bringing out the beaten dog look on his face), if not vindication of his indefensible and malicious ways and the film derails from being a topic of societal injustice to become just another saga of revenge and retribution. In this sense, I had the same problem with Love Hostel that I made with Vetri Maaran’s Oor Eravu (That Night) segment of Tamil anthology series Paava Kadhaigal. This makes the perpetrator of violence the protagonist along with Deol, with his inscrutable stare pretending to be inscrutable, distracting Jyoti and Ashu whose story should have remained from the first frame to the last. It’s worse because Jyoti is a rare woman with agency, unstoppable but stopped in her tracks.

An issue like honor killing is powerful and poignant enough to resonate on its own. The impact of just one last scene in sairat refuses to be erased from the mind. Before that there was the Superhit Pyaar segment in Dibakar Banerjee Love Sex Aur Dhoka a.k.a LSD. More than a sensitive and sensitizing film, Love Hostel felt like a ride in a torture chamber, which I walked out of with little empathy, but my stomach turned and my mind wondered about how many people Dagar had ultimately killed.


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