Lootera Review

Madhurima Mukhopadhyay
  • 4/5
Delicate. Rich. Poignant.

The short stories by O Henry have always amused us and they are specially lauded for their unexpected endings. One of the most renowned short stories on the theme of life and living, 'The Last Leaf' has been translated on screen by 'Udaan'-maker Vikramaditya Motwane. The basic plot has been changed to focus on the active character and based on his actions the film has been titled,'Lootera'. Severely slammed for being slow and unappealing,Lootera is a beautiful movie once you consider the shots and sensations that has been captured in the limited screen-time.

The story is set in Bengal of late 1950s,while the Zamindari system was gradually receding into oblivion. Pakhi(Sonakshi) is the daughter of a Zamindar who is distraught at the sudden loss of possessions with the act of abolishment of Zamindari system. Pakhi is well educated and a modern woman who is not shy to drive a car or have tea with strangers. Sonakshi pulls the role off with confidence and elan. It is surprising how beautifully convincing she appears,playing a bengali woman . Pakhi suffers from frequent asthma attacks.And once while tremendous suffering,she finds her love,Varun(Ranveer). Varun Shrivasta enters their village,disguised as an archaeologist with hidden intentions. Romance brews between the young people. But Varun,due to the illicit nature of his job cannot afford to settle down and flees on the day of their wedding,after stealing the family possessions. Ranveer makes us go spellbound with his serious act. It is hard to imagine Ranveer expressing himself with just a twitch of few facial muscles and scanty dialogues. But he performs it perfectly. Without a doubt,he will be seen as a powerful actor henceforth.

The story takes a major leap post the treachery, and we find Pakhi as a lonely woman,suffering from Tuberculosis,residing in Dalhousie where Varun happens to reach on a purpose. The police is after Varun and he seeks refuge in Pakhi's property. The chase becomes a dangerous one and Pakhi is torn between her love and her duty. She tells Varun how she is going to die and she has invested all her remaining breaths on the few remaining leaves of a tree beside the window. The most complex emotional turbulence occurs when Pakhi refuses to inform the police about Varun and then they confront each-other and talk about the past. Without letting too much melodrama dilute the narrative,the emotions on their faces do the talking and how! One of the most brilliant scenes recently filmed in Bollywood! The camerawork,the minimum usage of dialogues and capturing every little flutter of the eye and flaring of the nostrils,the film tells it all through emotions and expressions. The pace is slow,but definitely engaging. The simple background score,the pale palette of colors,the sound of respiration and the dominance of silence makes it a different kind of movie-watching experience. Vikramaditya wows us in his second venture.