What happens when a filmmaker who cites Emir Kusturica’s Underground (1995) as one of his favorite films decides to make a film inspired and partially based on O Henry’s short story `The Last Leaf? He then decides to give the story a personal touch and weaves altogether a new tale of love, longing and essential drama around it. The result is a film like Lootera. On a primary note if there is anything this movie stands for, it is perhaps the typical embodiment of how a movie should play before an audience like a classic piece of music or to be more precise, Opera. The whole film is seamlessly woven with music making it an integral part of the film narration. The story of the film has all the right elements in its place, craftily-woven around a short-piece of English literature. Where it scores is the fact that the result is a unique one. This is certain. Keenly understood are the demands of the story, hence the setting is the 1950s.
Period romance it is, yes, but much more it longs to be and this sincere longing is the strength of Lootera. Here is the ideal raw material for a love story where a rich woman falls in love with a guy who is struggling between love and his predestined fate. The energy of this romance gone wrong inherently is derived from here only. The scale of the movie constantly unfolds over a period of time encompassing tragedy, self-fulfillment and eternal hope in the picture. Elements of a classic? Although the director deserves respect having attempted this movie on a unique creative note, still with all the longing and poetic beauty it exudes, the movie falters on the grounds of flow in narration in classical movie-going tradition. The use of silence is novel in the film although does not do much to drive the story in an organic fashion. Instead it aims to freeze those particular moments of intimacy and chemistry between lovers which would go down well with those who have the appetite for Arthouse movies and/or want to see something fresh. There is nothing wrong with that approach as some of the greatest movies employ it in their own style. But with Lootera, a movie with a heavy under current of nostalgia and romance, it somehow misses bringing this across. The use of music is simply brilliant and Amit Trivedi (Music Director) emerges as an auteur in his art. In this case frequently referencing the classical music; deviant from his signature style. The photography is top-notch and is responsible for recreating the scenic period beauty. Although a little excess on aesthetic grounds, that it sometimes takes away the attention from the film itself. Still it is masterfully done. Acting is really good. Ranveer has acted with all honesty and heart although it will take him some more time to seamlessly don these character roles. Sonakshi Sinha has given an effortless performance; this is one of the highlights of her career. Remarkable is the character of Adil Hussain as police officer as his is the character which simultaneously reveals a lot about authority and human nature on a deeper analysis.
Once Nietzsche said "one who fights the monster must take take that he himself does not become a monster". Perhaps this explains him the best as somewhere his duty becomes a personal agenda for him and revenge steps in the picture, hence he falters on human grounds. Groundbreaking point made here. When the film ends, one can say with assurance that Indian cinema is currently going through one of its interesting and exciting phases and films like Lootera will continue to explore the vast possibilities it continues to offer. Before signing off I would like to cite a line from Iranian Filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami from one of his interviews, "There are some movies which have flaws in it and while watching the film one is also aware of that". Later when you come out of the theater, you feel the honesty of the movie and it stays with you. Lootera is, indeed, that kind of movie.