Verdict: Ritesh Batra lets the silence speak in this unique story.
Already screened internationally at Sundance and Berlin film festivals, Photograph is a movie we have been keenly waiting for. Directed by Ritesh Batra who is also the guy behind Lunchbox, this film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra in the lead. Talking about an unlikely romance in classic Ritesh Batra style, this film appeared charming from its trailer. But does Photograph have the same magic as Lunchbox did? Let’s analyze.
What’s Photograph About:
Rafi (Nawazuddin) is one of those typical photographers at the Gateway of India. He lives in a one-room slum with other migrant workers just like him. Taking his name pretty seriously, Rafi is poetic in his approach to photography. He sells it to potential customers stating that everything else will fade away with time but their photograph will be the sole reminder of all that they see and feel right now. Rafi meets Miloni (Sanya), a middle-class girl from a Gujarati family at the Gateway of India and asks to click her picture in a similar manner. Miloni is not any regular young lady. She is a CA topping, soft-spoken, timid, yes-mummy-yes-papa kind of girl. She has no opinion of her own or would rather not be asked for an opinion. Miloni does what her parents tell her to do. Rafi, who is troubled by his dadi’s (Farrukh Jaffer) constant demand for his marriage, sends her Miloni’s picture and passes her off as his lover named Noori to get her off his back. Dadi lands up in Mumbai to meet Noori, which forces Rafi to now track down Miloni. He requests Miloni to be his pretend girlfriend and she agrees. What transpires between the two people coming from starkly contrasting economic and social backgrounds is what the film deals with.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui does what he does in almost every other movie – perform very well. But that is expected from a fine actor such as him anyway. Sanya Malhotra as a soft-spoken Miloni does complete justice to her character. However, the actor who steals the show in Photograph is Farrukh Jaffer. She is outstanding as the dadi and her comic timing is incredible. Cheers to Nawazuddin for having handled his scenes with Farrukh so effortlessly. One scene that stays in your mind is when Farrukh cuts through what is supposedly Nawazuddin’s line in the BEST bus and he smilingly lets her. The emotions flow so naturally here and that’s what makes Nawazuddin stand apart from the other crop of actors. The camerawork by Ben Kutchins and Tim Gillis is also commendable. Be it capturing the slum lanes, the Mumbai streets, or the comfy home of Miloni, they do a good job at keeping you hooked with his visuals and the way they are captured. One scene, in particular, is noteworthy here when they focus on Miloni and her family on the dining table right from the kitchen stove where the maid is busy cooking. This shot is pure treat.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Director Ritesh Batra’s story is novel but it felt incomplete at times, like the film relies a lot on the actors emoting intricately, with only a few dialogues. Had the film been a bit faster, it’d have been more gripping. A little more details about the characters would’ve definitely helped the audience understand what makes two people from such different backgrounds grow so close to each other. Jim Sarbh was cast in a less significant role which is odd for an actor of his caliber.
Why You Should Watch:
Photograph has some of the finest performances you’ll ever see. The film is for those who are not looking for masala movies. It’ll make you wonder and leave you with a smile at the end.