Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
If there is one thing to be said about Vikramaditya Motwane’s craft, it is that he makes melancholy look beautiful. In his debut film “Udaan”, and now in “Lootera”, the filmmaker depicts angst-ridden and tormented characters and creates the perfect environment for them. The lighting is muted, the setting is an isolated house, the music is haunting and you cannot help but feel as tormented as the characters in the film.
Motwane is undoubtedly one of the few Indian directors who has mastery over the craft of filmmaking. Everything in “Lootera”, the detailing, sound design and pretty much every aspect is picture perfect. From a small village in the Bengali countryside in the first half to the quaint hill station of Dalhousie for the more sombre part of the movie, Motwane chooses his locations well.
But “Lootera” is one of those films where the way the story is told is given more importance than the story itself. An adaptation of O Henry’s “The Last Leaf”, Motwane and co-writer Bhavani Iyer build on it and the film is set in an upper-class Bengali household in the 1950s.
Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) is the pampered and privileged daughter of a wealthy landowner in a Bengal village. She spends her days dressing up, learning to drive and bossing around her servants. Enter Varun (Ranveer Singh), a young man who says he’s an archaeologist and wants to excavate part of her father’s land in the hope of discovering the remains of an ancient civilisation.
Based on a short story, Aparna Sen’s “The Japanese Wife” is an evocative but slightly stretched tale of an unusual marriage between two seemingly everyday people.
The key words here are “short story” and “stretched”. While Sen does manage to draw an evocative picture of main characters Snehomoy (Rahul Bose) and Miyagi (Chigusa Takaku) the narrative feels a little drawn out at times and it does feel like a short story which has been stretched into a two-hour film.