Actors Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh are at their best, but the old world charm of Lootera works only to an extent
A glimpse of Vikramaditya Motwane's love story Lootera's first look itself made a good impression in an average movie buff's mind, and there was an eagerness to know what the film would be like. In the promos and posters, hottie Ranveer Singh and classic beauty Sonakshi Sinha looked like they were made for each other. But their romance in the film is not that perfect - in fact, far from it. There's young love, heartbreak, longing and closure.
The story of Lootera is set in 1950s Manikpur in West Bengal. Pakhi (Sonakshi), a graceful yet playful zamindar's (Barun Chanda) daughter who is deprived of romance. Varun (Ranveer), an archaeologist who wants to dig up her family's property and uses that as an excuse to stay with them. Pakhi falls for Varun's quiet charm, and love blossoms amidst the couple's silences and painting lessons. But it seems too good to be true, and Varun's real identity devastates Pakhi and her father. The lovers separate, only to reunite by chance in Dalhousie. And this time, Varun does not want to turn his back on Pakhi, even if that means risking his life.
Sonakshi is very convincing as Pakhi, the beautiful, mischievous child woman who falls hopelessly in love with a handsome man she knocks down with her car. Her character is dignified but has child-like emotional intelligence. And yet, when her world turns upside down, an ailing Pakhi takes it in her stride, concentrating instead on finishing her book - and waiting for 'the last leaf' to fall from the tree, so she could be at peace.
Ranveer makes for a very pretty frame. He expresses through his eyes and is also good in the action sequences. But acting-wise, one feels he just followed the director's orders and didn't push the envelope.
The lead pair's chemistry is unique in its love-hate nature. But one feels let down by the lack of more romance in the film. Pakhi must've felt the same way when Varun deserted her, maybe? Since Varun is not back for Pakhi, but just happens to be with her again, rekindling of passion probably takes time. Still, scenes like the one where Varun forces an injection down Pakhi - with orgasmic effect - turns out well and shows more chemistry between Ranveer and Sonakshi than their much publicised 'intimate' scene.
Motwane takes inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore, and O Henry's The Last Leaf for the story. For filmmaking inputs, it's Guru Dutt and Satyajit Ray. It's obvious how much Motwane enjoyed making this movie, using old-world cinematic language to bring home the point. No frame is wasted.
Poetic cinematography by Mahendra Shetty makes even the bland sequences in the movie stand out. Among the supporting cast, TV actor Vikrant Massey as Varun's friend Deb is a discovery. Arif Zakaria, Adil Hussain, Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Barun Chanda perform well, but a talented Divya Dutta seems to be wasted.
The songs of Lootera blend with the story, and thankfully there's no running around trees in the snow-clad Dalhousie. The background score works well and gives you the feeling that you are watching a Hollywood classic. The set design, costumes and production are near-perfect. So what goes wrong?
The movie might be set in the '50s but giving the pace of that era to the story might not work with the younger audience, who will be yawning, and yearning for speed to the proceedings. Also, (spoiler ahead) people are now getting tired of seeing a 'hatke' end to every movie they watch these days. Time for some 'And they lived happily ever after' films to make a comeback.
Lootera will stay with you if you like to see classic, slow romances that take time to unfold and invariably have some tragic element. If you don't like such films and prefer the gloss and glamour of say, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, then skip this one.
3 out of 5
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