Friday, 5 July 2013

My Review Lootera Searching For The Soul

Director Vikramaditya Motwane

Starring : Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Barun Chanda, Adil Hussain, Vikrant Massey, Arif Zakaria

Love, an emotion that is so all encompassing, that reason loses its footing and we stumble in it with our eyes wide open. Lootera promised to be a love story, set in the slumberous West Bengal zamindari of early 50s. Characters that are steeped in the era, subtle and beautiful, propped with the sweeping canvas of color, lyrical frames and a pace that breathes gently and engulfs you as they move towards the final act.

Udaan was to me a bar raising, path breaking film, which gave me hope that there is space for unique stories and storytelling. Though indulgent in the time it took on screen, I still would give it a place in my favorite films from young film-makers. So, my expectations from Vikramaditya's second outing were already high. Add to it Anurag Kashyap's name, who has also penned the dialogues for Lootera. Curious also, because the palette is so different. From an angst ridden modern story to the old worldly charm and romance, a true blue love story. 

The premise taken from The Last Leaf, a short story by O. Henry. Motwane has done his own additions, making the character of Behrman different from the original story, apart from other plot points. The story is of Pakhi (Sonakshi), whose father (Barun Chanda) is a Zamindar, whose zamindari is soon to be repealed by the newly formed Indian government in early 1950. Enter the young strapping architecture Varun (Ranveer). She falls in love with him, only to be betrayed. What is Varun's real agenda, why is he so nonreciprocating to Pakhi's love, what will happen, will love find its way in the end...

Good things first.

I must say, it does paint a pretty picture. From the opening frame to the last, Mahendra Shetty's camera makes love to each frame, yet fires up when a chase sequence unfolds, and retreats to wider vistas when the snow covers everything in sight. 

I have always liked Sonakshi Sinha, though definitely not her choice of rowdy films, and I feel almost mother hen proud of her in this film. She has managed to deliver her best performance till date in Lootera. From a chubby, spoilt, motherless daughter of a Bengali Zamindar who falls in love the moment she sets eye on a young stranger who enters her life suddenly, to a pained woman who has been betrayed, she holds fort with ease that I had not expected. Looking lovely in saris and ethnic Bengal jewellery, she has allowed herself to open up in the hands of the director.

Another discovery for me was Barun Chanda playing the Zamindar. I could feel the pain as his Zamindari is taken away and he has to adjust to "new India". His deliveries were spot on. 

Amit Trivedi's music is another plus. From the innocent Sanwaar Loon, to the Baul based Monta Re, to my favorites Ankahee and Manmarziyan, he delivers a score to match the era and camera. If I felt an over use of background score in the first half, the second half he delivers. Barring one important scene in the film where instead of a change-over, it continues as if nothing of import happened on screen. 

Now coming to what did not work.

Ranveer Singh. Limited, and the limitations magnified. Whether they were purely his or they point out a failure on part of the director, one would never know. There were scenes where his delivery was so garbled, I had no clue what he was saying. The tone remains the same mostly, from beginning to end. So for me, he took away a lot from the film.

Zilch Chemistry. How can my heart move when the protagonist share no chemistry on screen. They are cheek to cheek and lip to lip... yet nothing, nada. This is a huge problem in the film which is a love story.

The Screenplay (Motwane and Bhavani Iyer) That for me is frankly the biggest let down. No where does it rise above the expected. The dialogues are so average, despite Anurag Kashyap being at the helm. Actors like Arif Zakaria, Adil Hussain and Divya Dutta are reduced to mere props. I understand it is set in the 50s frame of mind, but stories were told better even then, I am sure. 

The film feels so much longer than it actually is. By the time the emotional (expected) end comes and is one of the most beautiful sequences, I have tuned out. Its a film that could have been a master-piece indeed, but with a missing soul, it just remains another beautiful painting. 

Sigh.... I hate it when a director I so admire falls short.

My Verdict 2.5/5

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