BY RASHI LOHAAN
The 2013 romance and drama film, Lootera, is perhaps one of the finest examples of rare gems found in the over-the-top flashy and grotesque world of Bollywood. With each frame, a painting, the director, cinematographer and the music producers and of course, the actors, came together to create something so beautiful that they can now die in peace with the knowledge that they’ve given the world a masterpiece to admire, for ages to come.
Lootera is a love story but it’s not for everyone; it explores a world beyond the Bollywood version where boy meets girl and they overcome all obstacles to flee together on a train. The story of Pakhi and Varun enraptures you, tortures you and then liberates you.
A story that starts in the 1950s era of Zamindari and its abolition makes one travel a dark and deep web of lies and cheating along with the struggles of love, is just a small glimpse of what this film offers. Based on O Henry’s The Last Leaf, Lootera presents its viewer with a roller coaster ride of betrayal, illness, love and death.
Varun/Vijay/Atmanand Tripathi or should I call him Nandu the melancholic thief, is the role played by the boyishly charming Ranveer Singh. Anupama Chopra in her review wrote, “Ranveer Singh was a revelation. At a time when he almost ran the risk of being typecast as the Dilli-Haryanvi loudmouthed boy-next-door, he gave his character such a credible potency.”
Varun, in his course of life across the movie, addresses the audience’s perpetual dilemma of what a person’s heart demands v/s what their duty demands of them. Despite being completely smitten by the lively and jovial girl that is Pakhi, he chooses to leave her to fulfil his duty. Only to come back years later, just to have another chance to love her wholeheartedly and give her feeble hope of life, while all she saw was death. Even though Sonakshi Sinha didn’t receive the limelight she was so clearly deserving of, she completely enwrapped the character of Pakhi in her and her eyes spoke of the emotional ride Pakhi went through. Sarita Tanwar notes , “the star of the film is undoubtedly Sonakshi Sinha [who gives] a mature and refined performance. She lives the character body and soul”. From red and pink sarees in Manikpur, the ever happy and childlike personality of Pakhi was someone the audience couldn’t help but fall in love with. With grace and caution, she carries the love she built to the later stage of the movie when she becomes a shell of her previous personality with black and grey sarees, trapped in a bungalow in Dalhousie. I believe that both Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha gave the best performances of their respective careers in this movie.
The 35mm film camera of Mahendra Shetty along with Vikramaditya Motwane and his brilliant skills of directing and writing brought to screen a masterpiece, much like Varun’s leaf. The ability to bring seemingly ordinary dialogues like “dekha jata hai jab jo jota hai” or “duniya badal rahi hai Babu” to life and with such deep meaning is a skill that takes people years to master, but Motwane gave us the gift of his talents through this movie.
“Lootera has been an emotional journey for all those involved with it. It is the perseverance and determination of the crew that made sure this movie got made,” said Vikramaditya in his interview post-release. He also mentioned the hardships his crew went through while shooting this film, like the harsh winters of Dalhousie and back injuries. But if I may be so bold as to say, it was all worth it.
And then, everything about this movie reached another level with the music given by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya, who I believe reached their magnum opus with Lootera. Because even after years of rewatches, one simply needs to play ‘Manmarziyaan’ or ‘Monta Re’ to teleport themselves into the vibrant background of Bengal and see Pakhi and Varun fall in love, all over again. Or to play Zinda and simply find one’s way of life.
What makes Lootera unique is the simplicity which it carries and yet somehow gives the deepest and most meaningful experience of one’s life. Lootera teaches its audience the importance of an idea or to find one’s dhara of life. It doesn’t have to be very complex, just simple things, like you live for living but you die for love.