Trapped: Trailer

trapped-posterTrapped is a forthcoming film directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, the maker of Udaan (2010) and Lootera (2013).  Produced by Phantom Films, the film, a survival thriller, stars Rajkummar Rao, whose character is shut in a Mumbai apartment for 25 days. It was shot in less than a month in Mumbai in 2016. Written by Amit Joshi & Hardik Mehta, Trapped has music by Alokananda Dasgupta, while Siddharth Diwan is the DOP and Nitin Baid is the editor.Continue reading “Trapped: Trailer”

Tete-a-tete with the team of “Amdavad Ma Famous” – Winner of 63rd National Awards

Amdavad Ma Famous is a documentary that explores the madness of kite-flying festival in old Ahmedabad through the eyes of a 11 year old kid Zaid. In a candid chat with Madaboutmoviez, director Hardik Mehta (Script Supervisor for Lootera & Queen) and DOP Piyush Puty (DOP/ co-director for the Making of Lootera) took us through the trials and tribulations of making this film which has won the best non-feature film award at the recently concluded National Film Awards.Continue reading “Tete-a-tete with the team of “Amdavad Ma Famous” – Winner of 63rd National Awards”

Nominations For the Best of Bollywood 2013!

Like most other years, 2013 too has been an eventful year for the Hindi film industry. And unlike other years, 2013 was also the 100th year for the Hindi film industry. However, the centenary wasn’t really a landmark in terms of quality; we didn’t have a watershed of extraordinary films. Yes, we had a few brilliant pieces of cinema but we also had a truckload of terrible movies. What has been most encouraging in this entire melee is the gradual acceptance and support rendered to smaller films. While we had Kiran Rao helping a “Ship of Theseus” to get a release, we had a Karan Johar taking “The Lunchbox” out to the masses. In this post, I enumerate my (completely) personal list of favourite films of 2013 and their different aspects. These are my nominations for the best of Bollywood in the year 2013. While I have considered six nominees for every category (most of which are non-technical), I have added one more as “Almost There”, whom / what I feel is good but not enough to be on the list. Would love to get your vote from the nominees or any additional candidate you feel like.Continue reading “Nominations For the Best of Bollywood 2013!”

MAM is now 2 Years ‘Young’: The Journey Continues

Last year around the same time when I was sitting down and penning down my thoughts on the recap of MAM’s 1st year, everything looked so nostalgic. The nostalgia still remains 2 years into the journey, but there’s also the eagerness to move forward and to branch out into frontiers not yet fully explored.Continue reading “MAM is now 2 Years ‘Young’: The Journey Continues”

“Lootera”: An Indepth Acting Analysis Review of the film

It is through the close-up that we “discover the soul of things.” – Béla Balázs, film theorist

Lootera

Introduction

A film comes to life with actors, it is the actors who make you cry and laugh. And all the efforts of all the artists and technicians including the director is consummated in the act of acting, that is the final medium through which the film gets transmitted from the creators to the audience.

According to the “Natyashashtra” the ancient Indian text on art and aesthetics, there are four kinds of abhinayas(means of communication for an actor) postulated by Bharat Muni. They are categorized as angika, pertaining to the movement of head, torso and limbs;vacika, consisting of speech; sattvika, expressive of deep emotions indicated by subtle facial changes, and aharya, related to the use of costume. And further the “Natyashastra” states that mastering the sattvika is a true indication of a great artist and to be strived for.

The human face has 43 muscles and various combinations can create more than 10,000 expressions and the face, is the greatest tool for an actor in cinema to make the audience deeply identify with the world they inhabit and make them experience a new reality.

Béla Balázs, an international film theorist argues that it is through the stylistic technique of the close-up that we are able to reveal human subjectivity in film. Close-ups reveal the most hidden areas of our life and allow us as viewers to notice those minute details that we typically overlook. Balázs asserts that it is through the technique of the close-up that we “discover the soul of things.”

It is this very close-up that struck me about Vikramaditya’s film “Lootera” and I will attempt to analyze the film in relation to acting with this powerful tool of cinema, which I feel is often overlooked by some amateur filmmakers or is not acknowledged by a sensitive audience. However I will also address in the process the other means of filmmaking that aid an actor in his art and craft of acting.

We live life through moments and similarly when we experience a film we feel and identify with the acting beats and moments of the character and if strung together could be conceived as an ‘Actor’s Script’ and a character arc emerges, which I will attempt to unveil for the two main lead protagonists in this article – Pakhi Roy Chaudhary and Varun Shrivastav.

The first half of the film, till the intermission strongly belongs to the character of Pakhi and thus I begin with her character arc for the first half of the film.

“Lootera” Part One

A) Pakhi Roy Chaudhary – performed by Sonakshi Sinha

Pakhi is introduced as a character suffering from Asthma and her close bond with her zamindar father is established, located in the picturesque town of Manikpur (West Bengal) in the era of the 1950’s.

The character of Pakhi is brought to life with the soundtrack as much as the visuals right from the beginning of the film. Besides the Bengali character that the music establishes it is the heavy breathing and choking on the soundtrack of an asthma attack that gets linked to the identity of Pakhi and with that a pain and struggle to survive that comes into play which overshadows her character, it’s very different from introducing a character with giggles for instance.

Pakhi’s character as scripted and her bond with her father comes to life with the small nuances of facial expressions that the actor shares onscreen with the audience. It is her charm and warmth that is visible in her eyes that makes us want to enter this world that has been scripted by the filmmaker and we thus journey with her into this parallel reality.

Pakhi falling in love with Varun, who comes to her village posing as an archaeologist

doorbulbcandlesSonakshi mirror

As an audience we experience Pakhi falling in love with Varun and how is that done? Ofcourse it’s in the script and the art direction and cinematography and the soundtrack that make the scene possible but it is only because of the actor Sonakshi that you really want to believe that it’s true. Every glance, every gesture brings to life the beauty of the scene right from Sonakshi biting her lip mischievously while playfully switching the lights on and off, admiring herself in the mirror or simply looking at Varun with so much spoken through her eyes – naughtiness, joy, yearning,warmth, contentment all enclosed in the emotion of love and romance. And I feel Sonakshi here fulfills this need of a period film very aptly by being expressive with her eyes and takes us in to the old world charm aided by the costume, jewellery and art direction.

I would also like to make a special mention here of two integral scenes of the love story

POND reflectionpond conversation_Sonakshipond Ranveer

The two lovers are framed in a beautiful setting of nature by the pond, just having finished a painting session. A beautiful moment captured which we realize latter as an audience is an integral plot point to the film where Varun reveals to Pakhi his desire to paint a masterpiece before he dies. Close ups of the two actors are of course integral to the scene but a highlight of the scene is the use of whispers in the dialogue after a critical point in the scene. Sonakshi as an actor executes her acting abilities this time consisting of speech with beautiful precision and brings to life a special touch of tenderness that makes the scene rise above the mundane. Of course the director(along with other creative artists who might be responsible for this) too need to be given due credit for this choice and in cinema an actor’s final performance is never complete without the choices of the director, as cinema is a director’s medium.

archaelogy site

Another powerful scene in the film is when Sonakshi is able to express the yearning and pain for Varun after their small separation that he inflicted on her. Through her eyes the dialogues get a resonance of truth that touches a chord in you. This is when she visits Varun at the archeology site and asks him when he would return for his painting session. She urges him, will you come tomorrow, day after, the day after that, and the words ring true with emotion…and each line is full of expectation and yearning. And the scene ends fittingly with Pakhi emotionally charged and vulnerable, asking an innocent, yet bold question “Aap mujhse pyaaar karte ho …Varunbabu”. And like in every scene the actions and words and how they are delivered continued to paint the character of Pakhi besides expressing emotions.

coat

A missed opportunity for an actor to explore an ‘expressive object’ as an acting tool

However one tiny scene caught my attention but for the missed opportunity it portrayed. There is a point where Pakhi puts on Varun’s coat, wears his hat and holds a cigarette in her hand but as an actor Sonakshi did not make the props potent ‘expressive objects’ which could take the scene to another level and could be a memorable moment in the film. Of course this was not a scene set out in the film and maybe if it was given more screen time it could be worked on by all concerned. But it’s significant how an actor can infuse life into inanimate objects and how that object can become an extension or means of revealing feelings and character and this remains one of the areas I feel the film did not explore to a great extent. Successful popular instances are – the use of the kane by Charlie Chapman or Marlon Brandon’s use of a glove and other objects in the film “On the Waterfront”.

Pakhi heartbroken and devastated when Varun’s true identity of being a ‘Lootera’ (conman) is been revealed when he abandons their marriage and robs the valuable ancestral idol from the village, and runs away.

Among the few scenes in the film, I found this scene when Pakhi is told by her father about Varun’s betrayal as lacking in the scripting and execution and rather than an integral scene it seemed to be treated as a transition scene with less attention to detail and depth. The scene was essentially limited to two or three shots and the close up of the father and daughter being essential to the impact of the betrayal. However Sonakshi was limited in her impact and seemed to be given little space or directions to execute these shots to satisfaction. One close-up was sufficient with no dialogue but the emotion was not conveyed.

B) Varun Shrivastav – performed by Ranveer Singh

Varun’s introduction when Pakhi throws him off the road in a minor car incident

bikebike fall Ranveer

The first half of the film does not do justice to Varun or rather Varun does not do justice to the role in the first half. This is a shot that introduces the audience to his character and the beginning of his love story and meeting with Pakhi but the look on Ranveer’s face when the camera is capturing his character on screen is not effective to want you to identify with him, you rather feel there is no inner life happening when the camera is on him. Having said that making a film is a daunting task and achieving perfection in every scene is sometimes not a liberty for an actor or director who has deadlines and budget constraints and just has to move on.

Varun’s responding to Pakhi’s flirtations and losing a grip over his own feelings and falling in love

kiss

It seemed like the script did not develop the nuances for the character of Varun or is it that the actor Ranveer could not build a unique character strong enough to hold his ground against Sonakshi. Had the actor transformed into another character or was he playing a restricted part of himself. Ranveer in his interviews does share with us his director’s advice about not moving his hands too much as he normally does. Yes that did help make a shift to the role required but could something more in-depth be done as an artist to actually bring to life another human being. Ranveer does say that he was influenced by Sonakshi in being more spontaneous as an acting style rather than his more studied research based method to acting but a preparation that equips you for spontaneity according to me is the ideal way to proceed and spontaneity alone cannot equip an actor without a thorough grounding.

It seemed right for the camera to have Sonakshi in the frame for a close-up at significant moments because her face was more expressive and she seemed more effortless in her responses.

Can lighting help an actor and director convey dimensions of character? Pakhi comes to Varun’s room late at night to express her feelings for him. As Varun opens the door we see a deliberate shadow on his eyes keeping us in the dark about his emotions and intentions for a brief few moments. The scene does progress to show his eyes briefly which I felt broke the spell for the scene. However it’s mostly Pakhi who we see and rightly so, as if we ask the question from the point of view of the script – whose scene is it? it would be Pakhi who we identify with and she is the character moving the action forward in the scene. This similar lighting of deep shadow and concealing the eyes is played with in the scene when Varun is pressurized by his chacha to give up his love and return to work the next day. The similar lighting setup adds an interesting connect to the two scenes and could be thematically explored. If the whispers in the soundtrack in the earlier scene convey tenderness to the lovestory then the lighting in the scenes with shadow and specially concealing Varun’s eyes help bring out the dilemma that he faces in this love story

Varun’s dilemma as a conman and his profession which prevent him to have a relationship and a normal life and he finally chooses his duty over love

mirror Ranveer

The director Vikramaditya Motwane seen behind the scenes in ” The Making of Lootera”

There is a close-upjust before we see Varun leave the haveli, which could go past almost unnoticed where for a very brief moment we see Varun looking at the mirror with a tear rolling down his eye. Maybe its intentional to keep the mystery going for the second half of the film. But as a performance it remains a potent close-up not fully exploited by the director and actor and maybe here the editor plays an important role in choosing to shape the impact of the performance of the actor in that particular instance as very powerful performances are made and broken due to the impact of a few frames being present or absent. But in the service of the final impact of the film the shot being brief is a significant choice.

The film after the intermission does bring a greater focus to Varun as a character but does not leave Pakhi far behind and the second half belongs to both these characters and how they resolve their love story. The film now shifts from Manikpur to Dalhousie in the atmosphere of a cold winter.

“Lootera” Part Two

Pakhi Roy Chaudhary – performed by Sonakshi Sinha &Varun Shrivastav – performed by Ranveer Singh

Pakhi betrayed in love, traumatized by her father’s death and coping with her deteriorating asthma condition is trying to find solace in writing a book about her life experience and seems to be struggling to succeed.

Pakhi is introduced here with a bland look and ailing face which gives the illusion of no makeup but many a times there is more makeup required to give the ‘no makeup’ look convincingly on film and it is the makeup as a tool that plays a big role in aiding the actor here to make the audience believe that she is sick and has lost the vitality of life.

The scene finds Sonakshi in a typical situation like a writer’s block and innumerable scenes in films where a character tries to write but keeps scratching out the text and tears the paper and throws it on the floor. Here again the pen in the hands of Sonakshi could be used as an ‘expressive object’ in an interesting manner but it did not go beyond the mundane.

However the beauty of the scene emerges with a violent cut into a sensitive flashback in close-up that follows where we see Pakhi effortlessly writing and interrupted by her lover and with the flashback the scene is complete and gets a unique dimension.

mosquito net colour
A still from the documentary on the “Making of Lootera”

Here Sonakshi and Ranveer share one of their best chemistry in the film and feel really in love which seemed lacking in some parts of the film. The cinematography with the mosquito net that works as a veil over Sonakshi’s face creates a mesmerizing frame with beauty and softness and whispers on the soundtrack take over to elevate a simple trivial exchange to a romantic tenderness. But one point strikes me here is that maybe nuances of Pakhi’s literary world could be shared with the audience to shape a more realistic and complete persona which would help us identify with her intellectual space and thoughts.

Varun is hunted by the police and it is under these circumstances that he meets Pakhi again and takes refuge in her house in Dalhousie.

Ranveer gun

Ranveer returns into Pakhi’s life, this time not clean shaven and this reflects his slight shift in persona which aids him as an actor, seemingly now more macho and in control and the plot takes him to Paki’s doorstep, where he takes refuge in her home. Pakhi on seeing Varun is angry and sad as she feels he is responsible for her father’s death and exploited her and wants to hand him over to the police.
The scene in the film when Pakhi and Varun are confronted by each other seems to be treated with a commercial audience in mind rather than the artistic demands of the film. The scene starts with heavy asthmatic breathing and I felt if the soundtrack could have remained with that alone it could be very effective to create tension in a sensitive audience but the use of loud music in this scene submerges the soundtrack of breathing and the pain that it is so symbol of. The treatment of the scene is treated and acted both melodramatically which slightly robs it of its depth and realism.

However the second half of the scene is more sensitive and has an interesting Blocking of the actor Sonakshi which exploits her acting abilities and effectiveness of the character placement in the scene which is symbolic of the feelings towards each other at the same time gives the audience a pivotal point to observe the drama.

There is a beautiful use of the principle of ‘contrast’ put into play here where after the turbulence you now have calm which again gives way to turbulence but having a slightly differing quality to it. Pakhi faces her back to Varun and sits on a chair which faces the camera and the blocking is very symbolic yet cinematically exploited to get a brilliant view of Sonakshi slowly breaking into tears after Varun has exited the room and closed the door in the background. Its again the close up that allows this emotional moment to unfold so truthfully.

Varun then convinces Pakhi of his innocence and explains that he is a victim of circumstances and should not be held responsible for her father’s death. Varun and Pakhi’s love for each other is rekindled and Paki now wants to protect Varun from the Police.

In one of the acting highlights of Ranveer’s performance in this film is this scene where love is rekindled, where the emotional truth and effectiveness stand out. Also what makes the scene more challenging and thus memorable is the absence of dialogue and it is only through his moist eyes that the scene is conveyed. Ranveer mentions in his interviews that he attended acting workshops and for him the film was very challenging, one of the reasons being he had never as a character had to dig so deep into his emotions. The scene is poignant as its just after this scene that the plot reaches closer to its climax and we have the Police Inspector visit Pakhi and she now protects him from the Police rather than handing him over.

Varun confesses he loves Pakhi and Pakhi in turn is convinced of Varun’s love for her

couple

Another beautiful scene in the film follows between both the actors is where they meet for the last time before their eminent separation. The scene starts with an interesting touch of humour to an otherwise painful experience, which is used by great directors like Satyajit Ray and others who have observed life and know its workings. Varun asks Pakhi “ You know what my real name is – AtmaramTripathy”. And this brings a precious smile to Pakhi’s face.

Another minute detail which is captured in a mid-shot is the body language of the two actors. They are both seated together on the sofa and they both look like mirror images, I don’t know if it was intentional or by default but like it is said that couples resemble each other with their body language after many years their love seemed to fuse them together or rather put them into perfect sync with one another.

And the whispers return and in close-up Pakhi says “Did you ever love me” and Varun says “Everybody used me, but only you loved me”.

Varun discovers Pakhi’s ailing condition and death wish through her writings and this time sacrifices his freedom and life for the sake of his beloved and does a final act of love which gives a new life to Pakhi. Varun knowing fully well that he has lost his chance to escape and walks to surrender to the police, but threatened by his actions he is shot to death.

Sonakshi window

Pakhi at the window silently expressing her desire to die with the falling of the last leaf

viewing the tree

Varun who ensures that the last leaf will never fall

Even though scenes are not shot in continuation in a film it seems like after the scene of the rekindling of love Ranveer as an actor is gaining his ground and brings his role to a good finish.It’s in the final moments of the film where Varun literally walks into the arms of death with pause and care that makes you look forward to the next film of this actor who in his dying achieves a glimpse of truth through the camera close-up enough to remain alive in our memory.

Pakhi’s life of suffering and hopelessness is transformed with the power of love into a desire to live. This is proof of Varun’s deep love for Pakhi.

The film concludes with a close-up of Pakhi where she discovers the masterpiece on the tree and with quick cuts into a flashback prior to that reminds us of the innocent romantic moments that make the film come a full circle round. The intercutting of the leaf on the tree and Sonakshi’s face is what fills the frame and underlying it all is the emotions that the actor portrays through her face which through the medium of the closeup we get so close to her. Her tears of joy and hope, love and pain, the choreography of the action – a glance and then a pause, a gentle look downwards and then again she faces the tree and in those small gestures, those choices, those unspoken words, in her eyes is enveloped the magic and experience of cinema. No novel can describe, no theatre can reveal the intimate brilliance of the actor’s depth than the humble close-up in cinema. And all that the filmmaker wants to say and wants you to feel is culminated in this last close up.

Conclusion

And now let me leave you with some food for thought. Who is an actor. What is acting. The basic challenge for an actor is to emote truthfully and transform into different characters. Therefore what is the process of an actor.Is using your personal memories the only devise an actor can and should use to create emotions. How many times is an actor truly successful in going beyond his own personality and bringing a character to life.The actor being ‘the instrument and the player’ of his art from is he therefore vulnerable as an artist as the tools of his art are inevitably linked to his emotions and his very own identity. Acting as an art form can either drive you crazy or it can lead you to the path of self-discovery and help you evolve as a human being.

 

Lootera: When Time Stood Still

LOOTERA (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10.

Lootera-Ranveer with SonakshiWho knew that in this cinema of corrupt cops and even more corrupt villains, a filmmaker could still give us a poignant ode to the transience of love and actually make us care about two people we’ve never met before so much so that we don’t even notice two and a half hours whizz by? It’s almost unreal, like something from the movies. Continue reading “Lootera: When Time Stood Still”

Lootera: Timeless Love

When your debut film goes onto win universal acclaim and is one of the most loved films to have come out in recent times, expectations are sky high when you release your second film. Vikramaditya Motwane‘s first film, Udaan, is one of the most loved films to have come out in recent times and is pretty much assured of a place in the folklore of Indian cinema. In Udaan, he dealt with a teenage boy coming of age and the realistic portrayal won him and his crew many accolades. In Lootera, his sophomore film, Vikramaditya Motwane moves away from the modern setting, the boarding school and travels back in time to the early 1950s and has a doting father – daughter relationship and a love story to contend with. Continue reading “Lootera: Timeless Love”

Lootera Movie Review: Lootera was robbed off, of a lot of things

looteraIt’s a very, very fine art, drawing. Probably, finest of them all, even if it’s not as influential, or approachable as cinema is. It is cheaper, needs more imagination, and rarely has wide, mass appeal. It needs insistence, faith, dedication, hope, and a dozen other things. Yet, the end product is rarely visceral. It depends on what you are drawing, and who is receiving.Continue reading “Lootera Movie Review: Lootera was robbed off, of a lot of things”

Lootera Movie Review: Quality sans Entertainment

The winning poster designed by Manoj Nath
The winning poster designed by Manoj Nath

Sometime, the biggest quandary as a reviewer is to decide whether to judge the film solely on its objective or based on expectation as an audience member. In an age where movies are getting crisper and brisker to ensure they don’t lose grip over the viewers’ attention, “Lootera” is a leisurely paced film that definitely rises above the mundane as a film but seriously lacks the entertainment factor desired by many a moviegoer. Inspired by O. Henry’s “The Last Leaf”, Vikramaditya Motwane’s period drama “Lootera” narrates the tale of two star-crossed lovers – amalgamating romance with heartbreak, betrayal and redemption.

1953! In the autumn years of the zamindari regime, local landlord of Manikpur (West Bengal) – Roy Chowdhury (Barun Chanda) stays in his ancestral mansion along with his only daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha). Though afflicted by an apparent asthmatic problem, Pakhi is an impish, free-spirited girl who has basked in the glory of her family’s wealth and reputation. Enters a young, good-looking thief disguised as archaeologist – Varun (Ranveer Singh), along with his accomplice Devdas (Vikrant Massey), to steal the ancient idol in the temple grounds of the zamindar! Deceived by the suave Varun, the zamindar buys his spurious proposal to excavate the temple grounds in quest of ancient treasure, and permits the latter to set up his camp on the same. In fact, the zamindar even opens up a room in his house for the visitor. In the meanwhile, Pakhi who had met Varun through a street accident and whom she teaches how to paint, loses her heart to the young man. As Varun and Devdas move closer to their objective, Varun also finds himself gradually drawn to the beautiful yet vulnerable Pakhi. Torn between the pangs of his heart and the stealthy motive that brought him to Manikpur, Varun makes a decision that takes him away from the happy home he dreamt of. Sometime later, when Varun lands in Dalhousie for his next big heist, his fate brings him back in touch with Pakhi as their destinies collide to give their relation the closure it was bereft of, in their previous encounter. In the meanwhile, a local police inspector K N Singh (Adil Hussain) is tipped off about Varun’s arrival in Dalhousie, and the cop decides to eliminate the thief in order to stop him from plundering other families.

Vikramaditya Motwane enriches the film with a lot of aesthetics and, like his ex-mentor Sanjay Leela Bhansali, captures the film through painting like frames. Sufficient credit must be accorded to the cinematographer Mahendra Shetty for the brilliant use of colours – right from the warm tinge for rural Bengal to the steely blue for frosty Dalhousie. Some of the panorama shots of Dalhousie are breathtaking, though one wonders why some of the night sequences are so underlit that they look grainy on screen. Special mention to the way the significant tree and the shedding of leaves are captured. And I guess, this is where I must applause Aditya Kanwar’s production design which is truly impeccable. Whether it’s the tree in question, the palatial courtyard of the zamindar, the grounds on which Varun and Dev set up their purported archaeological camp, Kanwar doesn’t get a note wrong.

Amit Trivedi’s music adds a lot of depth to the film. And though the songs have already garnered quite a popularity, it’s an additional delight to see them on screen. The only song that seems out of place is Shikayaatein, and though the tune had rendered the trailer a special quality, it does not fit the proceedings of the film and seems a bit forced.

Unlike Motwane’s debut film ‘Udaan’ which was a low-key affair, ‘Lootera’ is a much bigger deal, and the filmmaker entrusted renowned faces to portray the vikrant masseyprotagonists. Given the fact that ‘Lootera’ is a love-story, it is of no surprise that the film belongs to the lead pair – the young and upcoming actors Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha. But before I come to their performance, let me mention the others who render support. Arif Zakaria is barely there. Divya Dutta plays a cameo, and one wonders why she took up a role as inconsequential as that. She is an absolute waste. Though the trailers and marketing campaign promoted Adil Hussein’s character as a major one, the role is pretty average and Hussein doesn’t do any wonder either. He is so monotonous in his diction and expressions that he makes you cringe after a point of time. His Sherlock Holmes costume in the climax is hilarious. However, the two other supporting characters leave sufficient impact – almost stealing a few scenes from the protagonists. Barun Chanda, as the pompous yet vulnerable zamindar who cannot accept the decadence of his control over his fiefdom, is astounding. In one of the previous reels and precious moments of the film, Chanda narrates a fable to his daughter and one cannot help but get drawn into the narration. In another scene, where he realises that he has been deceived by the man whom he had accepted as his daughter’s suitor, and the way he runs across the field to discover the tunnel of betrayal, he excels and just melts your heart. The other actor who leaves a solid impact is Vikrant Massey as Devdas – Varun’s accomplice and best friend. Though the culmination of the character is a tad contrived, the popular television actor breathes in amazing earnestness to his part – a guy with a noble heart but pragmatic decisiveness. Whether as the jocular sidekick, the prudent advisor or the silent observer, Massey brings in adequate depth to his role.lootera-2-march-15

Lootera is litmus test for Ranveer and Sonakshi. While he plays a much more toned down character than what he has played earlier or what he actually is, she has a meatier role than all her previous films combined. You can ascribe it to the period setting that Sonakshi, with her very classical beauty, rises up to the occasion while Ranveer struggles to find his foothold in a lot of scenes. Sonakshi’s ‘Pakhi’ is truly lovalootera-10-march-15ble in the earnestness of confessing her love and her frail health does make your heart go out for her. On the other hand, as the subdued suave thief falling in love, Ranveer looks sadly miscast in a few portions, but it’s the second half where he grips the character and proves that the rawness of emotions is his forte. The scene where he takes out the bullet or climbs the tree, he is brilliant.

Above all, Lootera is Vikramaditya’s film – and you need no proof that the man has put his heart and soul to the film. There are quite a few portions where he shows his skill as a filmmaker – especially the silent altercation sequence where Varun coerces Pakhi to inject the medicine bears the stamp of a filmmaker’s boldness and novelty. However, unlike Udaan, the novel moments are few and far between. Having said that, I must mention that the lack of novelty is not the biggest drawback of Lootera. Neither is the fact that for a discerning viewer, the movie is very predictable. ‘Lootera’ is more about the feeling of selfless love, the pangs of solitude and the nostalgia for the innocence. To be honest, the film does achieve fair bit of it.Vikramaditya-Motwane01

One must appreciate the fact that Motwane didn’t want to commercialise the film for the sake of it. Right from the simple opening titles, with white text on black background, he sets the mood of the film right and maintains the same throughout. The scenes are prolonged and there is adequate breathing space for every character. However, problem surfaces from two corners – a) the film gets painfully slow in places and you just want to move on to the next episode and the bigger problem b) it doesn’t make you (or at least me) feel as sorry for the protagonists as you would want to.

Majority of the classics are leisurely paced and rich in details – one cannot imagine a brisker version of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Schindler’s List’ or ‘Swades’ but these films had enough material in hand and details to highlight, which Lootera being a love-story obviously falls short of. While it may surely gain plaudits from the intelligentsia, the popcorn munching audience’s reaction remains dubious to me. On the whole, ‘Lootera’s is a good film with the director intending to paint his masterpiece (as the protagonist says in a couple of scenes) but falls short of being great.

My rating would be a generous 3.5 out of 5.

PS: The review is purely my opinion and though I tried to be as objective as possible, it’s bound to be coloured by my aesthetic sensibility.