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Lootera Movie Review: Lootera was robbed off, of a lot of things

looteraIt’s a very, very fine art, drawing. Probably, finest of them all, even if it’s not as influential, or approachable as cinema is. It is cheaper, needs more imagination, and rarely has wide, mass appeal. It needs insistence, faith, dedication, hope, and a dozen other things. Yet, the end product is rarely visceral. It depends on what you are drawing, and who is receiving. For example, a portrait can be more visceral than a scenery, a surreal painting with a dozen of eyes patterned randomly could be scarier than a portrait of a devil. So, it basically depends, on what one is drawing, and what one is seeing. Now if someone is minimal about it, if he is in no mood to use colors… he/she simply wants to sketch, then its whole effect depends upon the finesse of the lines… The texture of the shadows he’s going to draw, its pencil work; like lines in a man’s eyebrows, sharp edges on a woman’s face line, for instance. In some cases, the small add-on, a little mole, does the thing. The whole craftsmanship, its imagination, lies in it. That one small dot, right above the lip of a woman, and that’s it. That’s the finish, and that’s the craftsmanship.

And that finish, sadly, is missing in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera. In a scene, in a more commonly accepted second half of the film, Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) is sleeping. Her hands holding Varun (Ranvir Singh)’s hand. He draws his hand out, slowly the hand moves out of her clench. Slowly, the moment of separation, as it comes, the hand is moving out, out, and cut to Singh’s face. Wait, the hand was moving out of her clasp, what happened to it? That minute mistiming jarred. Had the hand moved out, relaxed for some time, and then I’d get to see their faces, the film wouldn’t lose much. Honestly, I didn’t want to feel the seams the way I did in the film.

Or let’s consider another shot, Sonakshi pays him a visit (first half), at night in his room, he is staying in their place as a visitor… both have feelings, and much of the first they keep staring at each other, he opens the door… he is sad, so it will show up in his eyes… and I am expecting some sort of expression, and… his eyes are frustratingly hidden, by the shadows. Now, the light effect is brilliant, you see, where shadows are highlighted, and I am all for it… for it raises the romance to the next level, but I wanted to see his eyes! Come on, where majority of the feelings live. If they are not in words but in glances, where are they, those glances? The sequence suddenly loses its magnificence. And it is not so, that the movie is about cheekiness, no. It is about warmth, most of the scenes involve (or ask for) chemistry, but before you could hear a gasp, a sigh, or you could see the longing, the scene cuts. Also, I think I would be more interested in the listener’s face than the speaker’s. Before characters could have their hearts beat, and we could listen, there is a gimmick, or a prop to deflect us.

There is something astoundingly romantic about the warm coat. And I, for one, believe that, that one sequence, in movies, where the hero wraps his heroine in his warm coat is an undefeatable shot. One which just doesn’t get old. Here, it is used to highlight the external cold rather than its internal warmth.  The coat just didn’t matter the way it should! This is a film where the blue hue of the night is more important than its silence, where action shots are longer than the romantic one’s.  The film is ridiculously Nolan-ish, when it comes to cutting a movie. Sonakshi is writing on a sheet of paper, with a magnificent fountain pen, and suddenly there’s a cut, and a sudden flashback, and then again a cut. Background Score more often than not sounds like Inception, and even The Dark Knight at times. Now people may take this assertion jokingly, but I wanted to write this, and I am not kidding, really. There is nothing wrong about Nolan-ish treatment, but the problem is, the trick is there, but the magic is missing. And the mystery, and success of the magic lies in between the scenes, one whose experience is complete when we add our own 2 bits to it. I can’t remember another show where tricks are there, audience is there, magician is there, yet the mystery, and the surprise of his alchemy was outside the theatre.

As I was talking about drawings, earlier, adding it to the context of the film, it seems Motwane wants to draw a portrait, he tries to draw a scenery, and unfortunately he doesn’t use a proper brush. When we paint, or so I have seen, artists at times use cotton plugs… because that comes in handy when you paint a sky, or a sea… it speeds up the painting process, and the wetness of the color it retains, it’s unusually random, and natural, and beautiful… The problem is, artists still use a paint brush, albeit a fine one when they really give their images a meaning, when they attempt to draw what they want to. Motwaane here, uses that “cotton plugs” kind of heavy-handedness to craft the whole film. It robbed off the gravity of the movie. Where Motwaane might have wanted to sketch, or even attempt a Mona-Lisa, he gave us postcards.

Love stories, on screen, are organic equations, of space, and time. How time passes by, how space shrinks, how it increases, how characters respond to each other. How a hand is pulled out from a grasp of another two, how space between those two hands changes, how the pulled hand will feel once it’s out of the grasp. How he would come close to her, how, like a magnet with opposite polarity, she will not get far off from him, and won’t come close either, or how two will come close, and repel, and come close, and again repel, and over and over again. When from the rooftop, through the grill, heroine sees the hero, and she joltingly squirms out of shyness… Pointless talking about it, all that just doesn’t happen when it should, and where. And no one can complain it couldn’t, or shouldn’t.

There is one rare, great thing about Lootera. This is one film where I could hear the director talk to me. When he communicates to us, via Pakhi that he wants to write, and write, and write by the drizzling lake. Or, via Varun, that one day he will deliver a masterpiece, and the whole world will be awestruck. For the love of movies, and for 100 years of Indian cinema, Vikram, I’ll wait.

By: Salil Shankar
Posted: July 6, 2013, 8:30 am


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