Movie Review

Movie Review: Lootera

Lootera is poetry on screen. It starts from the Romantic era of English poetry and ends up being a lyric in the lost and found section.

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Based on The Last Leaf by O Henry
Music: Amit Trivedi
Actors: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Barun Chanda, Vikrant Massey, Adil Hussain, Arif Zakaria, Divya Dutta, Shirin Guha
Once upon a time, there was a powerful Bhil raja who could not be killed. The Britishers found that his life was trapped in a parrot. So, they sent a spy amidst the Bhils and the king fell in love with the spy. He married the spy who in turn found the right parrot and killed it. The mighty Bhil died.
Yes, O Henry’s short story is the base, but so is this tale, narrated by Sonakshi’s on-screen father to her, to explain that she is his life, his parrot. The lead characters are each other’s parrots, their weakness. Lootera is poetry on screen. It starts from the Romantic era of English poetry and ends up being a lyric in the lost and found section.
Varun Srivastava (Ranveer), an archaeologist, arrives at Zamindar Roy Chaudhari’s house (Chanda) in Manikpur for excavation work near their family temple. It is the 50’s Bengal and the laws are going against the Zamindars. But the Zamindar’s focus is on his daughter Pakhi (Sinha) who lives in a cocooned world. Slowly, Varun and Pakhi fall for each other. But before you say ‘Happy Endings’, Varun cheats the Roy Chaudharis and leaves them. He has his own reasons. But Varun and Pakhi meet again in Dalhousie, where she now lives with harsh memories, illness and lots more. The rest of the story is about whether they get back or not.
It is credible that a film like Lootera is executed the way it was. It has all the trappings of an arty movie but is, in many ways, a very commercial film. Actors, look, music, promotion and so on. Yet you know it is this poetry in motion. Kudos to director Vikramaditya Motwane on this attempt, especially after churning out the brilliant Udaan. He rises to the occasion, though not totally. He gets the soul of the story right but the long-drawn second half should have been tweaked for a better watching experience.
A lot was spoken about casting Ranveer and Sonakshi together. But you feel that no other actors could have been Varun and Pakhi. In fact, Sonakshi is the trump card here. She was the Rs 100 crore heroine before Lootera. (She happened to star in movies that garnered huge success, she was NOT paid that much for any movie.) This flick presents “Sonakshi the actress”. Her portrayal of Pakhi is intelligent yet innocent, someone who seems sensitive but has fire in her eyes to burn down a forest. Now, we can say Sonakshi has finally arrived. Ranveer tries to match with Sonakshi but somewhere he comes out tame. Worry not, his underplaying the role is a good attempt. Barun Chanda as Sonakshi’s father is perfect. You love him and feel bad for him too as he tries to find his daughter her piece of happiness but fails. Vikrant Massey does leave an impact as Varun’s friend and inner voice. But Divya Dutta, Arif Zakaria and Adil Hussain are wasted in miniscule roles. A note of amusement is of naming Hussain’s character after yesteryear’s suave villain KN Singh. Neither the role was villainous nor does Hussain remind you of the deep-voiced villain.
The image of poetry in motion becomes perfect, thanks to the gorgeous cinematography by Mahendra Shetty. He creates the warmth of love in the first half while the dreary life of the characters appears stark. Every frame speaks for itself, with or without a dialogue. A big chunk of praise should pass on to the costume designer Subarna Ray Chaudhari for recreating the era through the costumes. A lot has already been said in praise of the music by Amit Trivedi and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The only regret is the length of the film which if shortened, could have retained the charm more.
Lootera is not for the yuppies who think a good (hit) film is all about a big star, 100-crore club tag and heavy duty promotion. It can also mean a mature love saga which depicts that sometimes falling in love is not easy and taking harsh decisions comes at a cost. Watch it if you can handle a real love story.
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