Review Hindi

Love Hostel review: Messy second half ruins potentially hard-hitting drama about hot-button issues

Release Date: 25 Feb 2022 / 01hr 30min


Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

Bobby Deol's half-baked assassin character also undermines Vikrant Massey and Sanya Malhotra-starrer.

Love Hostel isn’t about an establishment where romance blossoms. The title of the Shanker Raman-helmed film refers to government safe houses where lovers can stay after they elope and get married. 

Ahmed Shokeen aka Ashu (Vikrant Massey) and Jyoti Dilawar (Sanya Malhotra), the residents of a small town in Haryana, become love hostellers after secretly tying the knot in court. They are greatly helped by Jyoti’s teacher and close friend Nidhi Dahiya (Aditi Vasudev). 

Ashu works in his father’s meat shop and occasionally helps smuggle beef, the sale of which is banned in the state. Jyoti belongs to a wealthy family, which includes her grandmother Kamala Dilawar aka Daadi (Swaroopa Ghosh), a legislator who is also a ruthless mafiosa. As one would expect, the young woman's kin is enraged after learning about her union with Ashu. 

Meanwhile, the couple realizes that the safe house is anything but safe, thanks to the evil cops guarding it. Their problems increase manifold after Daadi tasks the brutal and trigger-happy gangster Dagar (Bobby Deol) with hunting the newlyweds down.

A similar love story between a poor youth and a rich young woman was depicted in Nagraj Popatrao Manjule’s Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016) and numerous clones that came out subsequently. But Love Hostel differs greatly because it dares to wade into the contentious political issues of the hinterland. 

Bobby Deol in Love Hostel

Apart from portraying the beef ban, the film also touches upon ‘love jihad’, a term used by right-wing ideologues for marriages that take place between Muslim men and Hindu women. Despite not mentioning the words explicitly, the film addresses the hot-button issue in a hard-hitting manner, especially through the volatile reaction of the Dilawar family to Jyoti's actions. The extent of brainwashing in today’s times is also seen in the zealousness of a teenage member of the clan who, despite his age, is infuriated with his relative.

Strangely, the political commentary takes a backseat in the second half, which is also where the narrative loses its way. The latter part of the screenplay is all over the place, with quite a few incidents forcing you to question why a particular character behaved or acted in a particular way. Although the climax has been creatively shot, it doesn’t redeem the film.

But the biggest letdown is the character of Dagar. Though important in the scheme of things, he remains an enigma. In fact, we don’t know who he exactly is except a person who relishes murdering people in every scene he appears in. 

Swaroopa Ghosh in Love Hostel

We are told that Dagar had faked his death a few weeks prior to the goings-on in the film, but he roams around town without any disguise. When the character itself is so poorly written, the actor playing him can’t help much. Hence, Bobby Deol sleepwalks through the role. 

Massey plays his part well, although we have seen him do better than this. Malhotra succeeds in showing bravery even when her character goes through turmoil. Vasudev, who was convincing in the web-series Cartel, impresses with her skills yet again. 

Ghosh evokes terror purely through her expressions despite her character being aged and wheelchair-bound. Yudhvir Ahlawat, as the angry and brainwashed teenager, is excellent despite his limited screen presence. Raj Arjun adds life to the character of a good and kind-natured cop. 

Love Hostel dares to weave the dirty politics of North India into a love story but everything sadly comes undone in the second half. 

 

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