Photograph – An Incomplete Poem

With the return of Ritesh Batra to Indian cinema, a lot of us would have been expecting another Lunchbox. This seems apt when we look at the poster in particular. But where Photograph becomes different is that the city of Mumbai is as much a character as the two leads. Whereas in The Lunchbox, the focus was very much on the personal journey of two characters, here it is a little different. We see these two people through the scope of the city. The framing makes us feel that we are observing them from a distance even when there are close-ups.

This approach works better here and it ultimately makes the film a richer experience. So, why am I calling the film incomplete and is it a bad thing? Well, to be clear, it is not really a bad thing because before the end, we get enough moments that make us feel something. Photograph also reminded me of  a quote that Radhika Apte’s character says in Andhadhun: “Some things are better because they are incomplete.” A film like this is completely dependent on the performances more than anything else and my word they are brilliant.

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This level of brilliance is something that we have come to expect from Nawazuddin Siddiqui and there are shades of his Lunchbox character here. But he is able to make Rafi a different person from Shaikh. More than anyone, the soul of the film belongs to Sanya Malhotra’s wonderful portrayal of Miloni.

The way she speaks, it almost feels like she is scared to say anything. A scene where she meets a prospective groom is a particular highlight for her changing emotions and her coming to terms with it. A special mention has to be made about the show-stealer of Photograph, Farrukh Jaffar who plays Rafi’s grandmother. She has some of the best lines and the way she delivers them is a sheer delight to watch.

In the end, Photograph is the poem that you do not finish but keep going back to. Not because you want to make it complete but seeing it unleashes a cocktail of feelings that take you to a different zone. Not every work of art needs to be finished for it to be good and that is the case here. Also, can we please start a petition for more Campa Cola? (+10 if you understood that reference).

Until next time, bye.

 

 

A Satisfying Meal

As far as debuts go, there are few that are as impressive as that of Ritesh Batra. With The Lunchbox he created one of the best films of 2013. In fact, it is definitely one of the best to come out of this decade. There are a few reasons why I feel this way about the film. First, the performances of Nimrat Kaur, Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. While the latter has a much smaller role in comparison, he leaves a mark on the viewer. Then comes the writing. Using a lunchbox, Batra is able to tell us so much about relationships, love etc. Even though the protagonists never meet each other, the connection between them is visible to us. It makes us care about these people.

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When all these elements come together, the meal (pun intended) is bound to be satisfying. Though the characters shown here are much older than me, I could really connect with their feelings. When Nimrat Kaur yearns for some affection from her cheating husband or when Irrfan Khan is forced to contemplate the fact that he’s ageing, these are examples of how real and universal these emotions are. We have all wanted love and attention from a particular person or have looked in the mirror and been taken aback by how older we look. This isn’t a film that works only for the Indian audience but is something that people will relate to, regardless of where they are from. That may be the film’s real triumph.

Until next time, bye.