Vikramaditya Motwane made the fantastic ‘Udaan’ in 2010 and showed his class with his very first film. Even though the film failed to do very well commercially, it became somewhat a cult classic after the DVD release. Now, Udaan is taught at film schools around the world. So when Vikramaditya decided to make a film like Lootera as his second film, it made everyone stand up and take notice. He cast commercial actors like Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha and had a hefty budget to work with. Balaji co-produced the film and going by the fact that there have been no title changes (like Lootera transforming into Looyteira and so on), this clearly is more of a passion film than a money-minting project.
Story: The makers have credit O Henry’s classic long story ‘The Last Leaf’ as their inspiration for making this film. But the writers (Bhavani Iyer and Motwane himself) have added a lot more layers, and amped up the thriller narrative a bit. The story is initially set in 1950s era Bengal when the Zamindari era was being brought down. Varun (Ranveer Singh) and his accomplice visit the rural village of Manikpur and pose as archeologists to loot a Zamindar’s treasures. After arriving in Manikpur, he meets Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) and through a series of sequences – stolen glimpses, playful conversations they fall in love. Pakhi accepts her love but Varun doesn’t. The story then moves forward in this tangent with the added incentive of an investigator (Adil Hussain) loose on the track of Varun. It will be best to discover the brilliant second half by yourself.
Direction and Miscellaneous: Vikramaditya Motwane accomplishes the impossible. His Lootera is a throwback to the 50s era Bollywood films immortalized by the style of Dev Anand. There are subtle homages laden throughout the film. He effuses the screenplay with his apt detailing and his direction splatters all that detailing into living, breathing, moving characters. The film does not move as quickly as the normal Hindi film viewer is accustomed to. I didn’t mind the pace because a film like Lootera is all about absorbing the mood. The silence, the dim-lit frames, the moody music all make up the ethereal mood of the film. Lootera almost plays out like it is a film straight out of the Italian neorealist films of the 60s.
Lootera Movie Review
Most of the credit for the glum atmosphere goes to Vikramaditya Motwane for rallying his troops and making his crew members understand his vision. Melancholia rules the roost in Lootera just like it did in Udaan thanks to the emotional cinematography by Mahendra Shetty. The editing is not obtrusive because the editor (Dipika Kalra) lets the shots play out like they are meant to. The editing is particularly impressive in the startling chase sequence.
Music: Amit Trivedi’s despondent music helped enormously by Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics, lend the film the mood it was aspiring to capture. The songs aren’t meant to be catchy, they aren’t meant to be sung at reality shows – they perform dual tasks. The songs help set the mood as I have already mentioned, and they also move forward the story in ways which aren’t perceptible very plainly.
Acting: Vikramaditya Motwane has brought out the actor in Sonakshi Sinha in Lootera. Playing the ailing, failed in love Pakhi she oozes her pain and love through her eyes and coughs. Her stare will stay with you (as it did with me) for a long time. She is a revelation in the truest sense of the word and will manage to win over her detractors with this performance of hers. Ranveer Singh is also a revelation in the sense that he is so muted here; his acting and his dialogue delivery are so subtle. His eyes carry the pathos of his past and never for a moment did I feel that he was trying too hard. Ranveer Singh may come across as an impetuous guy in real life, but he is a darn good actor and Lootera sets that in stone. The other actors Adil Hussain, Vikrant Massey and Barun Chanda are all perfectly cast.
Conclusion: Lootera is a terrific film to say the least. Vikramaditya Motwane has gotten almost everything right – the casting, the screenplay, the music, the sets, the production design, and the costume design. His assured direction made it all happen. Motwane is an auteur and he has the potential to end up as one of the greatest directors India has ever produced. Lootera is an intense love story that stays with you long after the film has been seen, and for that and that only it deserves huge credit.
Box Office Potential: Lootera must have been a very difficult film to sell for Balaji considering it is a period film, with no commercial music, no Superstars of any kind, with a very serious intense story. The opening is not likely to be of gigantic proportions. I expect the film to have great critical acclaim but not much commercial success because Lootera is not for everyone. I am not sure the Hindi film viewer has matured enough to like and appreciate a film like this. It may turn out to be the Swades of this decade. But having said all that, every bone and nerve in my body will be hoping that Lootera becomes a huge commercial success. The Barfi path will be a good path to follow and replicate for Lootera.
- The assured direction
- The detailing of the period it is set in
- The Production design
- The atmospheric music and songs
- Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh’s acting
- The mood it creates in the theater
- The oblique pace may turn-off a few