Any film that tests your patience and doesn’t deliver anything worthwhile is a bad film. The unreasonably long saga of love and deceit, Lootera, does not fall into that category. Unfortunately, it is far worse. Despite a clear plot that makes you think that the film is nearing its end at many points, it is an anthology of pointless sequences collectively termed as a film. It is unfortunate, that a film, with such a compelling first half, can make you regret sitting through the rest of it.
Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, and partly based on author O Henry’s book The Last Leaf, Lootera is a period film based in the ’50s. The film is about a happy-go-lucky landlord who lived with his daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha), until an archeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh) comes to initiate an excavation around one of the temples owned by the landlord. As fate might have it in a clichéd setting, the handsome boy and the pretty girl start talking and the boy steals the girl’s heart. With Pakhi’s father’s blessings, the two eventually agree on getting married. However, Varun never makes it to the marriage, and what follows is a sharp turn in the story which you are likely to have figured out already through the title of film. The title perhaps plays the biggest role in revealing the main storyline. If it remains at the back of your mind then you’ll easily predict what the rest of the film is all about. A different title or rather a more subjective one could have been way more suitable for the film.
Although Ranveer’s character is rather flat and composed, it somehow manages to save the mystery from being blatantly revealed at the very beginning. While Varun is a handsome young man with perfectly made hair, you can hardly feel the presence of his character. This is the reason why it takes you some time to absorb the beginning of the film because apart from clichéd moments like Pakhi accidentally pouring tea on the boy’s hand or dressing up like him in his absence, it has nothing much to offer. Supporting characters like Varun’s friend played by Vikrant Massey, and his uncle played by Arif Zakaria, help building up the story. The script isn’t bad but a better actor, probably Abhay Deol, would have made the much-needed impact.
Sinha, surprisingly, suited the role to perfection and you will be able to see a more unidirectional, focused and evolved version of the character she played in Dabangg. For a change, her character as Pakhi actually develops with time, and her physical presence accompanied by a natural stubbornness in her dialogue delivery makes her the ideal sari clad girl of the ’50s. Unfortunately, for all those who were happy about Sinha getting rid of her nose ring in the film should know that she gets it back in the second half — sigh!
After an immaculate film like Udaan, Motwane disappoints us with Lootera because it seems that he was way too occupied in having an ideal and complete ending to the film (which was not really needed) that he ended up losing the real gist of the story half way through.
Regrettably, Lootera falls victim to a common tragedy — a director making a mess out of a well-plotted story by relying on a typical Bollywood technique of ‘more, not less, is more.’ Other than the never-ending story, this film is no more than the director’s infatuation with crisp Urdu/Hindi dialogue delivery and vintage looks. We have seen much better period films from Bollywood such as Zubeidaa and Parineeta.
Verdict: Although we do not recommend it as a must-watch, if you are so amazed by the trailers then go ahead but don’t hesitate to leave only 10 minutes after the interval because from there on it’s just a mere waste of time. Our pick for the week remains to be Ghanchakkar!
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2013.
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