Lootera

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Barun Chanda, Adil Hussain; Music: Amit Trivedi; Direction: Vikramaditya Motwane

 

There are a few scenes in Lootera where the guy and girl simply look at each other.  They are not lovers. They are on the verge of falling in love, so there’s a romantic tension between them. They don’t say anything. He looks at her, with a mild mischievousness peppered through his thin lip smile. She looks at him with obvious sexual energy. She is openly in love with him although he is not sure. They look at each other for a long time. Really long. And in the end, they don’t say anything. The scene ends.

These, and other such scenes in the film, are the ones that repose your faith in the craft called cinema. The film is a medium where emotions and subtlety can be conveyed through visuals. Words are a burden. Music is a burden. Music amplifies moods, which is an anti-thesis of subtlety. And words always ruin them. Words are also often the resort of a lazy writer, and an ineffectual actor.

In Lootera, Vikramaditya Motwane takes less than three people and tells a sweet and heart-breaking love story. He doesn’t rely on sweeping visuals or grandiose music. Although Amit Trivedi makes abortive Wagnerian attempts in some early scenes, Motwane mercifully calms him down later in the film. Except these jarring aberrations, and a few sweet and beautiful montage songs, the music department thankfully remains quiet.

So it’s left to these three or four people to carry the film, which is not a crown in today’s standards. To compensate Motwane also uses mise en scène, a technique where the lights, sets and other natural elements are used to define or carry forward the story. We get close up, waist-up scenes and sepia lighting that carry the period feel. The girl’s bright sarees transmit the seductive energy, eagerness and longing whilst the guy’s muted colours relay the reluctance and the hidden mystery. Rains play havoc in their moods. In the second half, where their lives have been twisted, snow resembles the stark barrenness. The weather is so closely and ardently filmed that we feel the cold when snow is seen in the frames. With his skilfully crafted visuals, Motwane attempts to transcend the mediocrity of the story and its transparent plot. And he is ably assisted by Sonakshi Sinha who adds flesh and blood to Pakhi with her deep, subtle and seductive performance and Barun Chanda who makes us ache for the hapless zamindar.

Above all else, it is Motwane’s vision that makes us arrested in our seats. We admire his care for delicate craftsmanship, his faith in mise en scène and his reckless attitude towards lengthy scenes where nothing really happens. And his ability to make the guy and the girl look at each other for long durations. There is one instance where I actually clocked; 12 seconds for the guy and 5 seconds for the girl. Some of today’s filmmakers like Hari would have edited in 25 frames in that duration. Vikramadiya Motwane gives you just two frames in 17 seconds. And you are not bored.