Friday, July 12, 2013

Lootera: When Art Truly Mesmerises

Lootera, the movie, is like a poem by John Keats. It was written to give life to art. It was made to mesmerize the audience. It does that so ably that I exclaim after I come out of the cinema hall- ‘This is how a movie should be!’ What is the primary purpose of cinema, I ask? For me, it is an art that kindles by telling what else in life I can be. It is an attempt to showcase the myriad world in a defined time frame. And that is very difficult. Many cinema makers falter in this crucial test. The audience unconditionally trusts the director to take them to an imaginary world but still demands it to be worthy of real life. 

Film making is a difficult art and we wanted to make that into a money spinning business. We created an industry and named it Bollywood and thought we will make money and nevertheless good cinema. What happened next is anybody’s guess. That is why when films like Lootera get made, we the amateur art lovers, professionals, artists, movie critics everyone does their job to blow their horns in support of good cinema. I personally believe, it is done for the joy that a brilliant movie brings to a person who watches it. Everybody blows their vuvuzellas loud when they are happy. We are animals, after all. 

The cast of Lootera is carefully chosen. I don’t know if anybody else could have done more justice to the film than Sonakshi Sinha and Ranvir Singh. With movies like Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore, I had never ever thought Sonakshi Sinha can be considered as an “actress”. To me an actress is Nargis in Mother India, Madhuri Dikshit in Devdas or a Vidya Balan in Kahaani. But Sonkashi Sinha surprises everyone with her acting skills in Lootera. There are no attempts by Vikramaditya Motwane, the brilliant director, to hide her unusually large forehead. He lets it to be a complement to her Bengali personality in the movie. Ranvir plays a con to perfection, almost. I say almost because I felt he could have worked on his facial expressions a little more. But that is not an impediment at all to see him in the character. 

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Lootera derives its screenplay from O Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf”. It is set in post-independence Bengal. Bengal of the 1950’s was a politically turbulent state. The Zamindars had formed their fiefdom and ruled the hamlets. But the times were changing fast. Democracy had given a new and unknown strength to the faceless. Barun Chanda, the Bengali actor, plays the character of a Zamindar who is Sonakshi Sinha’s father. He has a gracious presence on screen and portrays a vulnerable Zamindar who is afraid of losing all his wealth by the abolition of the Zamindari system by the government. Ranvir Singh is a handsome young man who knows nothing else other than to con people of their wealth. What happens in the movie afterwards is not so difficult to guess. But what really mesmerizes you is the cinematography. Set in rural Bengal and Dalhousie, the picturesque beauty of the location perfectly blends in with the screen play and the characters. 

The love between the lead actors is delicate and never too brash, though their personalities are poles apart. Amit Trivedi, the music director has come as blessing in disguise to the music lovers of Hindi cinema. I am of a strong opinion that he understands the script better than the actors themselves. When Swanand Kirkire sings, “Kaagaz ke do pankh leke / Uda chala jaaye re / Jahaan nahin jaana tha ye / Wahin chala haye re /” it succinctly captures the mood of the hero. The music never tries to outdo the movie at any point in time. It stays with the flow and is aides like pleasant breeze to the kite flying against an infinite sky. 

A movie which commands a precious 3 hours of the audience should do justice to its valuable time. It should add to the audience’s art, its outlook, its thought process and leave it richer for the money spent. In a world of mediocre trash and Friday collections, films like Lootera stand out distinctly head and shoulders above all others. The first movie of Vikramaditya Motwane was Udaan. I had read rave reviews about that too. But I couldn’t watch it. I regret it now. I’ll make that amends and watch Udaan and you must definitely go watch Lootera to soak into its honey dew like aura, if you have not already.

I would love to hear about your views on the movie in the comments section below.

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