Part 1 – The Setup
I’m listening to Lootera’s soundtrack right now, while writing this review.
As I consume each musical note with the thirst of a dehydrated desert nomad, a multitude of thoughts float my mind.
Let me begin, though, with a story I’d read in English class almost 12 years ago.
The Last Leaf by O. Henry is one of my most favourite English short stories of all time.
I’ve read a lot of short stories in school, but this is one of the few that has stayed with me till today. It is a very simple story of two artists staying together, trying to fight the oppressive winter in a village along with an eccentric artist. I won’t reveal anything further to avoid spoilers.
Lootera is like that – it will stay with you for a very, very long time. Just like Vikramaditya Motwane’s first feature film, Udaan. However, Motwane has added a few layers of complexity to a simple story to craft a brilliant, lucid plot. It’s almost as if he’s telling us, “That’s how you adapt short stories into films.”
If you’ve already read The Last Leaf, chances are you can predict the movie’s end.
What you will be pleasantly surprised with, though, is the journey – and how Motwane takes you through it. You think you know what he’s going to do, but you still experience all the emotions as they are meant to be experienced.
That’s when you know you have a winner.
This movie is about love and the phases of love – when it’s all hunky-dory, when the tide turns, and eventually when you realise that it was all worth it. I’m not a romantic, and I don’t watch too many love stories, but this one really put a lump in my throat.
Part 2 – The Characters
The Lootera: Ranveer Singh plays the mature and smooth Varun Srivastav – a young archaeologist who comes to Manikpur in 1953 to search for buried treasure. Or that’s what he wants everyone to think. Ranveer gives a wonderfully understated performance that makes you feel he’s been in films for years. Yes, this is the same Ranveer that tried to be too cool in Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl and fell flat on his face. While some credit should go to Motwane, you can’t take anything away from Ranveer. This is his crowning achievement in his 3-film-young career.
The Lootera’s Best Friend: Vikrant Massey plays the adorable rogue Devdas Mukherjee. It is ironic, for the Devdas in Lootera is anything but a drunken alcoholic with a loser attitude. He brings the fresh, new-age perspective to the old world charm of Manikpur. He also doubles up as Varun’s ‘conscience’, whenever he strays off their goal.
The Lootera’s Boss: Arif Zakaria plays Varun’s scheming uncle and mentor. You can see the years of theatre acting and experience that makes him such a fine actor. Very little screen time, but that doesn’t take away from his part, which he plays to perfection.
The Supporting Lootera: Dibyendu Bhattacharya (Chunni Lal from Dev.D, remember him?) has a tiny role as one of Varun’s gang. He plays a very convincing ‘treasury officer’, mind you.
Pakhi: Sonakshi Sinha, welcome. We’ve been waiting. Hopefully, with this performance, she won’t be remembered as ‘that girl from Dabangg’ or ‘Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter’. This is her tour-de-force performance, one that should catapult her into the real spotlight – not the ‘100 crore’ madness we see these days. The way she handles a variety of emotions, right from the first frame of the film till the very end, makes it seem as if she’s a seasoned pro (like Ranveer, see). Quite effortlessly she transitions, from the lively, vivacious Pakhi in the golden hues of Manikpur to the sick, disgruntled Pakhi in cold, cold Dalhousie.
Zamindar Babu: Barun Chanda – I have a feeling I’ve seen him before. He plays the proud Zamindar, one who lives in a bygone era, and who doesn’t have the slightest inkling of what’s going to happen to him. He genuinely loves Pakhi, and even trusts Varun blindly – the old, good-natured father figure.
The Law: Adil Hussain plays the stern, no-nonsense police officer KN Singh (which, funnily, happens to be the name of a very famous yesteryear Hindi film villain). He has one objective – to capture the Lootera, dead or alive. He pursues that with zeal, and there is even an exchange between Pakhi and him that will make you shudder, even if it is just a little bit. According to me, this man should be cast in more Bollywood movies (he was one of the bright spots in an otherwise utterly disappointing Agent Vinod).
Divya Dutta makes a special appearance as the housekeeper in Pakhi’s Dalhousie abode. She adds a sliver of humour to the second half in her exchanges with Varun.
Part 3 – The Music
After Kai Po Che, I had dubbed Amit Trivedi as the AR Rahman of this generation. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark.
Every single note in this movie feels like a soft feather on one’s cheeks. Not just the songs, even the background score – this is one of those rare movies where the background score actually adds to the story and even takes it forward.
I won’t go into each song in detail. My favourite (of course) is Ankahee. It gives me the vibes of a beautiful RD Burman composition from Masoom – Do Naina, Ek Kahani… Thoda sa baadal, Thoda sa paani… aur ek Kahani…
I know one thing for sure – the music can be counted as one of the cast members. Bravo, Amit Trivedi. I can’t choose between Udaan and Lootera now.
Part 4 – The Score
Ah. I have to give this movie a 9.5/10. I wanted to give it a perfect 10, but I can’t. Still, not bad eh? Motwane’s made 2 movies and for Udaan I gave him a 10/10, for Lootera a 9.5.
Safe to say, he’s a bright student of films, one of the very few, and I hope he stays that way.