22 July 2013 | suchismita_sengupta
Motwane captures "Love" in his canvas of lens & reflects the pure beauty through Silence of its characters..
In Genesis 37:9 the following statement is made: "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." Vikramaditya Motwane had stunned the critics with his poignant coming of age story 'Udaan'. He does that yet again in Lootera, justifying the feature length body to the soul of O Henry's petite plot. Loooera is like Van Gogh's "Starry Night" that is Picturesque and poignant at the same time. It takes a simple O Henry story – The Last Leaf, and adapts it to a period setting in Bengal and North East India. Somewhere the short story has decent potential for a short film. But Vikramaditya Motwane is one filmmaker who knows how to extract maximum gratification out of minimalism. It's a work of art - slow, deliberate and introspective. It's one of the best films you'll watch this year. It's a triumph of its director's vision, resulting in a win for the performances of its lead actors.
There's a sense of subliminal aesthetic familiarity when "Lootera" opens in the newly partitioned India of 1953. The unhurried ambiance of the olden days, the sureness of the camera's frame, the undiluted subtlety of the narrative – and decisively – the itching gut feel that it's not going to work out well in the end. The story is of an archaeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh) who comes for an excavation expedition on a piece of land that belongs to Pakhi's (Sonakshi Sinha) family. Love blooms over Dev Anand's enchanting songs and painting lessons where the teacher ends up turning into a student. The vintage Chevrolet cars, heritage haveli and fading royalty add to the aura. The chemistry between Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh is delicate, pristine yet searing.
Evidently Pakhi falls for the charming visitor only to face betrayal subsequently. Almost a year later, they chance upon each other and are stranded in a cottage amidst snowfall. Now Pakhi is taken over by mixed emotions towards the man while Varun seeks redemption. The director clearly strikes the right chord with the audience and the sublime and surreal shade that he imparts to the story gives it a fairy-tale touch. The tragic end is quite evident all through yet there is that ray of hope which clings on the last leaf.
Lootera uses silence and stillness wonderfully well. In such moments of repose, one can hear footsteps on a hilly pathway or a piece of paper being crumpled, and that is such a rarity in a Hindi film.
The two halves of Lootera are distinct chapters: the gold, russet and green of the Bengal landscape gives way to the pale, snowy, hilly heights of north India. Each is captured in muted hues by cinematographer Mahendra Shetty, whose contribution to the overall impact of the work is enormous.
Every actor in Lootera, irrespective of the footage he or she gets, makes an unmistakable presence. Coming to Sonakshi Sinha's performance, iIf you know her as the 100-crore girl who shakes and swings at the drop of a hat you're in for a surprise. Her nuanced act tugs at your tear glands. A good compliment to Sonakshi's anchoring performance is Ranveer Singh's underplay. He proves he's an actor to reckon with. And he does so despite having a character in shadow of Sonakshi's Pakhi. Supporting performances by Barun Chanda (playing Sonakshi's Zamindar father), Vikrant Massey (Ranveer's best friend) and Adil Hussain (the tough as nails cop) are all top notch too. Arif Zakaria, Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Shirin Guha make brief appearances but lasting impressions.
Lootera celebrates the past, mourns the demise of love, life and things of joy and beauty, but in the end affirms the primacy of the human spirit and the power of art to tide over the blows of fate.
Now the big question: why a film like Lootera is not working at the box office? The question is irrelevant. It wouldn't matter, at least from the critical point of view, even if it were to fail to get its point across to an audience captivated on Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore, Son of Sardar and suchlike. This is a "film". Appreciate it without the tags of commercialism (or lack of), or art, or new Bollywood. It's a beautiful poetry which is being recited, you either relive and resonate the spirit or, you don't.