Ashim Ahuwalia talks about making his first fiction feature Miss Lovely, which screened in Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s debut narrative feature Miss Lovely, which is screening in Un Certain Regard, promises to be potent cocktail of different cinematic styles. Ahluwalia is best known as a documentary filmmaker – his feature-length doc John & Jane premiered at Toronto – but he also works as a commercials filmmaker and stubbornly refuses to be pigeon-holed.

He filmed Miss Lovely, set against the backdrop of Mumbai’s sleazy C-grade film industry, in 2009, but then desconstructed the film and rebuilt it in the editing room.

“I shot a fiction film, but then wanted it to look more like a documentary, so I chopped it up and reassembled it,” explains Ahluwalia. “At times it feels like a documentary, then at times it’s super pulpy and sometimes noir, so I suppose it’s a mad hybrid of genre.”

His combination of pop and auteur sensibilities will no doubt draw comparisons with other Asian filmmakers, such as Wong Kar Wai, to whom Ahluwalia feels much closer than Bollywood or India’s “parallel cinema”.

It was partly for this reason that he decided to work with Fortissimo Films, an early champion of Hong Kong and Thailand’s new wave, on the international sales of Miss Lovely. “I had to find the right people who are going to understand it,” he says.

Fortissimo has international rights to the film, while Cinetic Media is handling North American rights.