Lootera – Film Review
Zamindaran of a performance from Sonakshi Sinha
Producer: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap (Phantom)
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Adil Hussain, Vikrant Massey, Shirin Guha.
Music: Amit Trivedi.
First and foremost when you go with a preconceived mindset that the film may have lot of plus factors and than you sit through the film and wonder as why anybody should be given such a huge footage and that too, to a filmmaker whose only name to fame is his formative years as an associate of a maverick filmmaker and his one film wonder “Udaan”, which was able to garner lots of critical acclaim at the festival circuit and so be it. There is no second say that the director of “Lootera” Vikramaditya Motwane is far ahead of his so called contemporaries who are part of 80% of the films which are nothing more than duds at all level. Here on the tragedy of the director lies in overconfidence. You won’t believe, once the film starts, you do get transported to the 50’s of post Independence Bharat (India) and the hinterlands, and the existing Zamindar dominated villages and farmlands.
To his credit and the art department you do get the feel of those period with costumes, hairdo’s and wherewithal’s all in place, vintage cars, huge haveli’s which had the haunted look, all courtesy its vast area and paltry few inhabitants. With an enterprise surprisingly well begun how can a director who has the faculty of studied seriousness go wrong in holding the subject to its conclusive end? Something which appeared natural flow, suddenly started loosing the steam and virtually going haywire.
Perfect casting I would say. Sonakshi Sinha (Pakhi), Shantiniketan educated, well fed and looking wholesome, looks gorgeous and graceful in Bengali Silk wears and Sarees, looking every inch a Zamindaran to say the least. Sonakshi tries to imbibe the character to the maximum and gives a near superlative performance. You could see it and virtually feel it. In comparison Ranveer Singh as (Varun), looks quite convincing in the first half of the film, but somewhere along the line seems lost and is not able to leave that impact. Barun Chanda as the Zamindar is perfect. The same cant be said about Pakhi’s friend and Varun’s friend played by Vikrant Massey. They have done their bit as was the need, and did not have much to do as well. Divya Dutta is seen in a cameo and wasted.
The film could not sustain the interest because everyone’s in hurry and things happen too soon too fast. Barun Chanda a Bengali Zamindar is happy in his own kingdom and his only worry and care is for his only child, daughter who is suffering from Asthama. She is his only Jewel in his whole empire. In comes Varun from an Archeological department with his friend, to do some excavation work around the Zamindar’s property which is treasuring some historical monuments. Zamindarsaheb without verifying the credentials of Varunbabu gives them the status of guests and accommodates them in his grand haveli as well. He even wines and dines with Varun as his own family. Pakhi not being exposed to the world outside, falls in to the innocent charm of Varun, and virtually gets hooked to the extent that her father voluntarily agrees to her getting engaged and married to Varun, without again verifying his background and just going by his submission that he has no parents and was brought by his uncle Vajpayee (Arif Zakaria).
The marriage never happens. Bridegroom disappears with the booty and there is betrayal of trust, faith and hope. An element of doom, shock and despair looms large and engulfs Pakhi and her helpless father who succumbs to the sudden turn of the events.
Cut straightaway to the holiday home in Dalhousie, whose mention was done earlier? Pakhi is being queried by the Police Officer to give any information as regards the culprits, but she lets it go by. She was in love so stays truthful; trying to pen a book and forget those bitter memories Varun had left behind. Now where is the love story? Nowhere in the narrative Varun is shown repenting for his act. On the contrary he has forgotten his so called short term fling with Pakhi and is already working on his next heist which incidentally has to happen in Dalhousie. Obviously! So as to carry the narrative further. And how? He conveniently lands up in the whole of Dalhousie nowhere but at Pakhi’s guesthouse only. So lets say it’s sheer coincidence which again brings Varun to Pakhi. And mind well now too there is no remorse or regret, but seeing the sorry state and the plight he has put Pakhi in, wakes up the human in him and starts compensating for the same. To add to her problem the cold, windy and snowy climate has worsened her Asthama and she develops signs of Tuberculosis.
Now lets see some funny and clearly distracting sequences in the second half where we see Police Officer chasing Varun and his buddy through the streets and by lanes of Dalhousie, and can you believe there is not a single soul to be seen around and whole area seems to be totally silent and deserted which is amazing because coming to think of it even in a military curfew you could hear some noise, sound or spot someone or other peeking from their house or window or whatever. Appears quite phony. And than there is this sequence where Varun tries to inject Pakhi when she gets Asthama attack and the way she retaliates and the scuffle which ensues makes it comical rather than serious, given the situation and her weak condition, when it has to be injected in the veins and with utmost care. Funniest of it is Pakhi in her attempt to get up from the bed and peek from the window to check out the leave on the tree, wipes the glass pane which is already crystal clean in the snowy weather outside, and repeats this act 3-4 times later, making it appear mechanical and silly. And finally the title Lootera which is a big give away. You are already ahead of what is going to happen next, thereby leaving no scope of anxiety.
Great love stories do not survive on such inconsistencies. As a saving grace the film has three main pillars, superb photography, very competent art direction and Zamindaran of a performance from Sonakshi Sinha. Had the director worked up to the expectation, the fourth pillar would have found its place.