Did you ever anticipate Vikramaditya Motwane to put together a period film with mainstream actors, after attempting the brilliant slice-of-life drama UDAAN? Nope, not me at least… But maverick film-makers, by and large, tend to drop a bombshell by opting for a contrasting theme in their ensuing movie. The question is, will Motwane ship yet another dazzling nugget in his subsequent outing? Let’s find out…
LOOTERA is inspired by American author O. Henry’s short story ‘The Last Leaf’. Let’s set the record straight by stating that Motwane hasn’t adapted the story in its entirety. He has made modifications, of course… the most vital one being injecting the protagonist’s character [Ranveer Singh] in the plot, which did not exist in the story. For those not acquainted with the story, it’s about this dying girl who watches the leaves fall from a plant outside the windowpane and believes that the day the last leaf falls, she too would pass away.
LOOTERA is a captivating tale that reverberates with emotions and passion and encapsulates the highs and lows of a stormy relationship magnificently. Penned with utmost sensitivity and crafted delicately and thoughtfully, the film is akin to a beautiful painting on celluloid!
1953. West Bengal. Varun [Ranveer Singh] arrives in Manikpur. He impresses the zamindar and his family, especially his daughter Pakhi [Sonakshi Sinha], who finds herself drawn towards him.
Soon, Varun and Pakhi are involved in a passionate relationship, but Varun does a volte face and disappears. When truth dawns upon Pakhi’s father, he suffers a stroke and passes away. Pakhi decides to move on, determined to forget Varun. She arrives in Dalhousie, but as destiny would have it, Varun walks into her life again…
The premise of LOOTERA may bring back memories of several films. But it’s the mood, the ambience, the treatment that lures you into the world of Varun and Pakhi. The old world charm of Bengal and Dalhousie only enhances the impact, while the varied twists in the tale catch you absolutely unaware, especially when one is guessing about what course the storyline would take after a major twist during the interval point.
LOOTERA bears the look of a classic. The visuals, the shade palette, the objet d’art, the milieu, the apparel… even the way the characters communicate at an unhurried, easygoing pace and share emotions takes you back to the bygone era.
UDAAN gestured the initiation of an accomplished storyteller’s journey and LOOTERA cements it. In years to come, Motwane may emerge as the frontrunner thanks to the plot/s he chooses to narrate and most significantly, the brilliance with which he narrates it. The sparkling chemistry between the actors, the atmospherics, the storytelling… LOOTERA is a demanding film to make, but the director warrants colossal admiration for jubilantly narrating a tale that settles in your heart… and moistens your eyes at varied junctures.
Of course, the narrative unravels at an unhurried pace, but let’s not forget that this one has an old-world charm that cannot be rushed. The moments and pauses are to be enjoyed in a film like this!
Every frame of LOOTERA exudes sensuality, partly because the chemistry between the on-screen lovers — Ranveer and Sonakshi — is scorching. The fervor and passion the two actors emanate on screen, while living those characters, leaves you awe-struck. LOOTERA is further embellished with dialogue that corresponds so delightfully with the premise. The lines are dreamy, romantic and acidic, as per the situation. The contribution by the DoP is equally pertinent, with the frames appearing to be a painting in motion.
The evaluation would be imperfect without highlighting Amit Trivedi’s contribution to the motion picture. The soundtrack is seeped in melody and mirrors the era that the director illustrates on celluloid. True to the concept, Trivedi takes you back to the long-gone period with his melodies.
While Ranveer and Sonakshi anchor the movie with supreme performances, even the ones in supporting parts leave an ineradicable impact. Ranveer has been entrusted with a complicated character so early in his career. Besides playing an intense lover, he plays a reticent and brooding character, something he hasn’t explored in his earlier films. And Ranveer makes the most of it by making the character come alive. The character has disconcerting shades and it is imperative that he uses his eyes to leave a mark, which he does so at a variety of stages. He’s simply fantastic!
Like Ranveer, Sonakshi too gets the most demanding role of her career thus far and what makes it even more complicated for the youngster is the fact that she has to shoulder the responsibility of hauling the film on her shoulders when Ranveer makes a brief exit, only to re-emerge after a point. Sonakshi is a revelation in LOOTERA; her performance is, beyond doubt, top notch. She glides into her part with such effortlessness that it catches you by complete surprise. She’s magnificent!
Divya Dutta is super in a cameo. Vikrant Massey is first-rate. Shirin Guha is appropriate. Arif Zakaria is tremendous. Adil Hussain delivers a punch-packed performance. Barun Chanda, as Sonakshi’s father, is brilliant.
On the whole, LOOTERA is an intrinsically earnest and profoundly heartwarming story that stays in your heart. An absolute must for those who love romantic films or are romantic at heart. This one’s a cinematic gem!