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ApunKaChoice » Article » Movie Review: 'Lootera' is a flawed masterpiece

Movie Review: 'Lootera' is a flawed masterpiece

Watch 'Lootera' for Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh
By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Fri, Jul 05, 2013 13:25:35 GMT

The ApunKaChoice movie review of Lootera. The great American author O Henry was often slammed for relying a touch too much on “coincidence and contrived circumstance” in his stories. It’s that bent for contriving situations for the suitability of a fable that the talented director Vikramaditya Motwane could stand accused of in his adaptation of the American raconteur’s famous short story ‘The Last Leaf’.

For one, O Henry’s moving story doesn’t fully blend in with the tale of love, deception, betrayal and redemption that Motwane sets out so passionately to tell in Lootera. It looks foisted, forced in, lending itself only superficially to the film’s tragic love that could have done well without the autumnal tree with its perpetually shedding leaves, and a frail, shriveled, love-damned damsel equating her failing breath with every leaf that flutters and falls. The result being a denouement that not just lacks the surprise of the original story, but also the lump-in-the-throat frisson that the revelation of a life sacrificed to save another evokes.

In a nutshell, Lootera is doubtlessly an eminently watchable film with brilliant performances. But it’s not nigh a masterpiece. And it doesn’t do justice to the humourous Henry’s tale.

In the village Manikpur in Bengal of 1953, Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha), daughter of a zamindar (Barun Chanda), is a sweet, mischievous, pampered girl. She falls for a visiting archeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh) who seems to be digging for more than he lets on. He falls for her too, and love blossoms during the painting lessons he takes from her. “I’ll paint a masterpiece, someday,” he boasts to his friend (Vikrant Massey), staring at a blank canvas.

But Pakhi and Varun’s love is doomed from the start. Just when it needs commitment, he disappears, with her riches to boot. Her world is shattered. A year later, “contrived circumstance” brings them both under the same roof again. This time in a snowed in Dalhousie where our hero earns for himself the ultimate redemption.

To his credit, Vikramaditya Motwane does a swell job with the material at hand. The little details he pays attention to in recreating the household of a zamindar in a Bengal village of 1953 go to show the director’s punctiliousness. He adds his own deft touches with an ancient folklore, and a Baba Nagarjun poem about a famine. Where he falters (apart from the story) is in complementing the visuals with apt background score. The score in the scene when Pakhi’s father narrates the lore of a powerful, invincible king whose life lay in a parrot stands out like a sore thumb.

Lootera works primarily because of the sterling performances by Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh. Sonakshi cruises her character curve from a chirpy, mildly-manipulative, madly-in-love girl to a devastated woman counting her last breaths, with a breathtaking conviction. Note her in the scene when a jilted Pakhi confronts Varun at his archeological site. Ranveer Singh, on his part, is mellowed almost to the point of sounding effeminate, and there’s as much unmistakable guile in his eye as honest love. On the sidelines, Vikrant Massey as Ranveer’s sidekick and Adil Hussain as an Inspector on Ranveer’s trail, are simply superb. So is Barun Chanda as the genial, gullible, somewhat naïve zamindar.

Cinematographer Mahendra J Shetty’s visuals and music composer Amit Trivedi’s songs are two more assets of Lootera.

Lootera isn’t a bad film. It’s poetic, lyrical, sedate, and a lot more. But it’s surely not the masterpiece it’s cracked up to be.

Worth a Watch

Rating: ***
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