Lootera (2013) *HQ*

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A Bengal zamindar’s daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) is immediately drawn to the handsome and mysterious archaeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh), who has come to the feudal Manikpur to dig and search for an ancient civilisation. The determined Pakhi goes out of her way to know him and woo him, and a time comes when both seem to fall in love with each other.

However, Varun is not there to hunt for an ancient civilisation at all and when his ‘mission’ gets in the way of love, Varun walks out on Pankhi, leaving her shattered.But life often gives second chances and by a twist of fate, Varun comes into Pakhi’s life again, paving the way for love, regret and redemption.

Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane doesn’t abide by the regular formulas of filmmaking which usually follows a set pattern of highs and lows. He instead lets his character and story breathe and grow gradually on people with his own soulful treatment. But while it worked impressively in Udaan, in Lootera it misses the spark.

The two hours 22 minutes long film treads majorly on O. Henry’s one pager short story The Last Leaf and hence ends up being stretched enormously. Moreover, it’s the forced emphasis on the short story that ticks you off. Pakhi’s identification with the last leaf is repeatedly shown as if reinforcing a certain point to which the film leads as if you were a child and wouldn’t get the relevance otherwise.

There are scenes which barely hold relevance to the plot and are only placed to accentuate the feel of the film but it works against the filmmaker’s plans for it only ends up testing the audience’s patience.

Although the heart of a film, if you leave aside the faulty story, Lootera is breathtakingly stunning visually. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that each frame is poetic and Mahendra Shetty to be credited for the picturesque cinematography. The two worlds both pre and post interval are beautifully captured by the cinematographer. While the first half based in Bengal is rich in colours romanticizing the nature to the hilt and clearly complementing the blooming love track in the film, the second matches up with the sombre turn of events as you are taken to the dead, cold and melancholic winters of Dalhousie.

Those who have seen Ranveer Singh as the bratty lad in both of his previous films Band Baaja Baaraat and Ladies V/S Ricky Bahl, will be pleasantly surprised to see his restrained avatar. With his slick backed hair, brooding persona and a rakish air, Singh will remind you of the heroes from the 50s era (It is quite easy to imagine Varun in a trenchcoat and a fedora with a cigarette dangling loosely from his lips).

On her part, Sonakshi, after playing the ‘masala’ heroine in most of her films, plays a vulnerable but graceful character and does justice to her role of a pampered zamindar’s daughter, who hasn’t seen life beyond the walls of her mansion, as Varun points out accusingly at one point. Vikrant Massey, who plays Varun’s sidekick, provides laughter in the right places with his Dev Anand imitation when things get too heavy. The other characters in the film (Adil Hussain, Divya Dutta, Arif Zakaria and others) too perform decently.

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