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Picture perfect

 
 

Lootera

Rating: 4

July 05, 2013

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Barun Chanda, Vikrant Massey, Adil Hussain, Divya Dutta

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane

Like Udaan, his feature debut from 2010, Lootera, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, is exquisitely crafted. While Udaan was the coming of age tale of a small-town teenager going head to head with his despotic father, Lootera is steeped in old-fashioned romance. At the heart of this film is a young couple faced with insurmountable odds.

And yet, it isn’t so much the film’s story, but in its telling that Motwane woos you. Skillfully combining the key tools of cinema – pictures, sound, and music – he delivers a transcendent experience that’s hard to describe in words.

Lootera opens in 1950s West Bengal, where a new democracy is changing archaic laws and reclaiming princely estates. Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) is the indulged daughter of an old zamindar (Barun Chanda) from Manekpur. She lives in a sheltered world, but you can see her straining for independence as she secretly drives the family car when she’s out of her father’s sight. Her world collides with that of archaeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh), who is invited to stay as a houseguest when he’s on an assignment to excavate a site on her father’s property. Varun and Pakhi are inexorably drawn to each other, even though he knows in his heart that he must leave her someday. The film’s plot is inspired partly by O Henry’s famous short story The Last Leaf, yet Motwane gives it a romantic, even thrilling twist.

There is a lyrical quality to the couple’s exchanges in Lootera. Varun and Pakhi communicate with their eyes at the start, then their relationship deepens over shared dreams and long conversations. Pakhi confesses that she wants to be a writer, spinning stories in her Dalhousie home. Varun, in turn, has the soul of an artist and wishes to paint a masterpiece someday. The director establishes a leisurely pace that matches the period, and a picnic scene in particular, where the couple is gently teased by their friends, feels straight out of a Merchant-Ivory drama. In the second half, Motwane opts for muted colours and sticks with those interminably long silences as the couple is reunited under very different circumstances.

There is attention to the smallest details in Lootera, like the art direction, the lighting, and particularly Mahendra Shetty’s intuitive camera that knows just how to capture the lovely landscapes as well as the somber mood of later scenes. Amit Trivedi’s beautiful songs and background score add another layer of feeling to the aching love story here. Yet it’s hard to resign yourself to some convenient coincidences in the plot, or even the naivete that filters in towards the end. In a film so close to perfection, the small lapses are hard to hide.

What you can’t find fault in are the pitch-perfect performances. Barun Chanda deftly marries a father’s vulnerability with the arrogance of a zamindar who believes he is entitled. Vikrant Massey, playing Varun’s Dev Anand-obsessed friend, is cheeky and unyielding in equal measure, while Adil Hussain does a good job as a hard-nosed cop on the heels of a criminal.

Yet Lootera belongs to its two leads, Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha, who do their best work here. Shifting seamlessly from feisty to fragile to bitter, Sonakshi delivers a deeply heartfelt performance that feels mature beyond her years. Ranveer, for his part, brings a quiet sensitivity to Varun, and occasionally a smoldering intensity. Offering a finely internalized performance, he leaves a lasting impression.

Moving without resorting to melodrama, Lootera is bittersweet in the end. Formerly an assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Motwane reveals the same command over technique, and a similar love for sweeping visuals. But unlike Bhansali’s recent films, Motwane never distracts you with his tapestry.

I’m going with four of five for Lootera. Drop whatever else you’re doing, and soak in this love saga.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

42 Responses to “Picture perfect”

  1. Maya says:

    Great review. Cannot wait to watch it. And agree about the visual comparison with SLB. SLB can be too extravagent at times and those lavish sets begin to be a distraction. For me, they even start to look a little tacky because there is just so much going on and the beauty is lost, leaving clutter. From what I’ve seen in the promos, Motwane hasn’t done that to Lootera, so another reason to go and watch.

  2. deepankar says:

    I watched the movie today and agree with you the performances by everyone was nice.Especially by Sonakshi who played the part as well as looked it i.e. of a much indulged sheltered child of a rich family . To be honest I had not seen a single movie of hers till date (that means both the dabangs , RR etc) and contrary to what everyone says about her acting or her weight she was a revalation in this movie.
    Also the cinematography is really good. On the whole the movie gives an international feel and look unlike our normal Bollywood flicks.
    There were lapses here and there but on the whole i didnt feel like i wasted my 200 bucks

  3. AMIT says:

    gr8 one guys one the best movies ths year may be best hats off to mr Motwane

  4. Mohit says:

    Thanks for review

  5. Very well said. People need to realize that it is a movie set in the 1950’s. So they should not complain about it being slow. There was beauty in the silence of the movie. And Vikramaditya has proved again that he is truly class apart.

  6. vipul says:

    Awesome Movie.. Here is my review..

    Quite antithetical to their characters in previous movies, the lead cast dons an entirely different roles this time. Sonakshi is no longer our loud mouthed and pelvic thrusting blubbery lady and Ranveer is the poignant soul exercising restraint in all
    his mannerisms. Amidst all this, the two come out with flying colours in their performances and on-screen chemistry.

    Read my full review at http://www.vjmoviews.com/2013/07/lootera-movie-review.html

  7. Diksha says:

    Thank you for this. After watching the movie you are truly at a loss of words to describe this beautifully poetic old-school romance that you just experienced. But you were able to convey the images, performances and depth of the movie in close to perfect words.

    I was sorely disappointed with your earlier reviews of ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani’ and ‘Ranjhana’ but this time you hit the nail. I re-read this review multiple times just to be able to experience some of the beauty of the movie again..

  8. Narender says:

    Superb review matching movie like a poetry!!!!!!!

  9. kairav says:

    Brilliant film. Takes time to establish story but worth the time

  10. sashwat says:

    Amazing..Awesome..Amusing..Heartwarming..But not for typical hindi movie lovers.If you expect go-shout-in-the-theater stuffs,you should better stay away from this.This one is slow and silent,yet a masterpiece meant to be felt and enjoyed.

  11. Pratik says:

    Your rating should also be rated on the scale of may be some five stars.

  12. cyberguru says:

    Nice adaptation of Fanaa(Aamir Khan) movie, the only difference is a Terrorist in Fanaa & Thief in Lootera…story line is 80% same…nice romantic moments in first half…boring second half…

  13. Amol I says:

    Seeing 3+ review for a Hindi film from you after a long time. Movie must be good, no doubt, when 4 comes from you. Thanks

  14. abhishek says:

    4 out of 5 from you.. I guess I know what I’m going to be doing Sunday evening..

  15. Sonika says:

    how much they paid you for giving 4 stars to this boring and lame movie, grow-up man show some dignity don’t sell your credibility because you have lost my respect here.

  16. Arshad says:

    My fav moment was when he revealed his true name !

  17. Ranga says:

    Lootera is slow moving, the Director tries so hard to make a screenplay and a movie out of it ! (so sad) , The LOVE between the pair does not exist even on the screen let alone if there were any gossip about them off screen, I think the Director had too many instances in his head and probably choose the wrong incidents on screen to depict the love chemistry sorry did not work . Ranveer tries too hard in the first half to give a innocent lover boy look with a very feeble voice. I would give 1 out of 5 for this movie ( I would have preferred giving none but that might also be take as the film not being reviewed ) .
    P.S : The guy next to me who was with his girlfriend had to leave the theater without her half way through , PLEASE give this movie a miss. Instead I would like to have some landscape or portrait of the movie scenes in a museum for people to see.

  18. vaibhav says:

    no one is saying this but for me, it looked like a very poor cousin of Fanaa…
    In Fanaa also this guy betrays her trust and turns out to be this bomber. He comes back to her and she is blind enough to notice that..He is the reason for her father ‘s death and finally has the police behind him. Kajol shoots him and we go home

    In Lootera, this guy betrays her trust and turns out to be a robber. He comes back to her again and she is sick enough to raise a hue and cry. He is the reason for her father’s and finally has the police behind him. The police shoots him, and we go home

  19. Sameer ali khan says:

    as like always i went to Watch Looter after your review .. and as i read in your revie …. it reminded me ‘The Last Leaf ‘ , the story which i read whn i was in 10th standard which left strong emotional impact on me with its climax .. now i see a film based on it .. which again was so interesting , beautifully shot .. amazing screenplay .. i like period which moves with a smooth pace .. acting. location. music everything is good . but wht i felt being in theater that this movie is not for all as few were getting bored and few left theater… though i like it 🙂

  20. rahul gautam says:

    Never expected this from you…Rajeev.
    4 out of 5 for this movie….huh
    2 out of 5 is enough.

  21. gururaj says:

    Why comparing this to Fanna , guys? This one is 100 times better than that.This one required the slowness it has.This is definetely one of the best cinemas of bollywood.I totally agree with the fact that somebody mentioned that this one is to experience.After seeing you just remember the visuals and how it made u feel.And nothing else.This is like a film which ought to be.

  22. Om says:

    it is not worth to watch. very very slow …. it should be 2 out of 5 ..

  23. Vineet mishra says:

    Its amazing about amit trivedi`s music n background score,,it doesn`t sound that appealing on the audio,but once you listen with the visuals in theatres it just blows you off. Same happened when I watched Dev D.
    Woudn`t bother to say anything about the movie,I think Rajeev Masand said most of them n i almost agree with them..

    Although irrelevant,Chennai Express promo was not needed here,and about the Bhansali`s tapestry comment LOLZZZZ..

  24. prashant says:

    great review, i expect from u, what is amazing that people are coming to see the movie, houseful, thank god bollywood is coming out of the hangover of chopra’s and johar’s. i thanked the people who made this movie, hats off to their guts. i always heard bollywood people saying “people wants this type of movie so we make this type” who cares what people wants to see. always scaling at commercial success. nice to watch.

  25. Bishakha says:

    Lootera is simply a movie that has lavish sets, beautiful landscapes, beautiful play of light and shade,balanced colour portrayal, excellent acting of Barun Chand (the Zamindar) and a badly handled, loosely tied story, with efforts to bring back Varun aka Ranbeer Singh in Pakhi Sonakshi Singh’s arms. The first part has a good twist coming in though it was predictable the moment the co-lootera warns Varun to stay away from Pakhi.
    The second part is awfully slow ,without any development in the story except the dark under eye circles and coughs and room being littered with papers when she is apparently already a writer (as specified by the doctor for audience information).
    The ending is simply ridiculous -Ranveer climbs up the top most branch and then slips and doesnt fall then again ties and ultimately falls on his back smilingly and doesnt break his spine and walks comfortably and heroically to meet the police and his death.Pakhi comes out of her cottage smiling dumbly at realising about the leaf .

    Lots being said about Sona’s acting which I dont see why. All along she only had to peep through window curtains and wait for Ranveer bedecked to give/take painting lessons. Her emotions didnt play on realising that Ranveer has conned the family and not going to turn up for the engagement while the Barun Chand had only a split second tosay ot all through his eyes and expression…She couldnt even gasp for breathe properly.The intimate scene that was so celebrated by the media was not at all there.There were some nose touchings in irritating manner .In the movie she is shown fighting shy in kissing yet almost happily goes to bed with Ranveer..I cant give thumbs up for her acting skills though she might have improved from her previous performances.
    In toto I cant see why the movie should deserve anything more than 3 in a scale of 10.

  26. srd says:

    Outstanding movie, Great direction, Acting , cinematography, music, screenplay !!!
    WOW, a must watch , It is a poetic movie far away from commercial masala.
    Should go for this year’s Oscar entry from India , 5 Stars !!!!!

  27. kush says:

    truly enjoyable, great work gives test of golden era.. worth it must watch it guys

  28. Shekhil says:

    Really 4 out of 5??! I went and saw this movie after your review, 4 out of 5 for a Bollywood movie from you had put me on air. But what worst can happen! Movie never reached my expectation.. I agree on Cinematography and the performance from actors,pitch perfect! But, don’t you think the second half was dragging? It couldn’t reach the class what we got in the first half of the movie. If you would have rated 2.5 to 3!! I would have never written this comment! @RajeevMasand lootera is over rated and please maintain the grade of review you used to do. 🙁

  29. Aruna says:

    I enjoy your reviews and agree with you most times! I loved Lootera too in terms of the craft involved and that lingering sense of nostalgia that the visuals, music, and the languid unhurried pace of the movie creates. The only thing I disagree with is Ranvir Singh. He just didnt cut it in terms of this being an improbable love story where as an audience, you want to root for the two all the same. He underplayed his role to the extent that he appeared charmless and hard to identify with. Needed a more mature actor to off set Sonakshi’s wilful and earthy charm. Abhay Deol would have been perfect….

  30. vidgun says:

    Yeah, they acted well….but the movie was soooooooooooo sloooooowwwww n boringgggggg!!

    I should have left in the interval..and I wouldn’t have missed a thing.

    My Rating: 2/5 – 1 Star for acting & 1 for creating a nice old world charm…that’s all!

  31. Bugs says:

    after giving this ridiculous ratings to third class movie of the era “” LOOTERA “” i think Mr. Rajeev should take his retirement ……. It was the world’s worst movie i have ever seen in my life. Mr. Shatrugna must have financed for this film to promote his daughter – in fact a girl who looks like Aunty …….. I suggest Mr. Rajeev should maintain his dignity as to criticism of the movies and rating……… I need my money back from the pockets of Ms. Sonakshi …..

    I personally advise that Mr. Sonakshi should leave acting and she may enter into other field of Movie making and art. Please leave us alone from your Horrible acting and such third class movies ……..

  32. Nikhil says:

    worst movie ever……

  33. Sagar Gandhi says:

    2out 5 is real rating for this boring movie

  34. himanshu says:

    I totally disagree with your comment on this movie. This movie don’t deserve more than 2.5. Boring no excitement. I usually follow your ratings. But this time you disappointed us. 4 points seriously. You given 3.5 to 3 idiots. And you rating this boring movie 4. How could you?

  35. Gc says:

    I have seen many negative reviews and most of them have been because of slow pace of film. I agree the movie moves slowly and people have different prespective about different things. I just want people who are criticising this movie for being bad watch satyajit ray’s apu trilogy,charulatta or any terrence mallick film. You will understand why some stories require slow narrative and they shouldn’t be huried.

  36. Anand J says:

    “Shakhon se toote har patte, ummeed ka aakhiri patta hi rah jaata hai
    Barf ki in wadiyaon pe ab tarik, salib, aur jard chaand nazar aata hai”

    An autumn tree with falling leaves survived by the last leaf painted as masterpiece, and a girl who is assailed by thoughts of dying, finally sails over fate to confirm supremacy, essence, and beauty of life. ‘Lootera’ movie is inspired from O’Henry’s story ‘The Last Leaf’ that narrates an ordeal of lost trust and betrayal. Ironically the film is slow,doesn’t sparkle but is alive in the beauty of its silences and affirms the primacy of human spirit with profound joy of life.

  37. jatin khandelwal says:

    I enjoy your reviews and agree with you most times! I loved Lootera too in terms of the craft involved and that lingering sense of nostalgia that the visuals, music, and the languid unhurried pace of the movie creates. The only thing I disagree with is Ranvir Singh. He just didnt cut it in terms of this being an improbable love story where as an audience, you want to root for the two all the same. He underplayed his role to the extent that he appeared charmless and hard to identify with. Needed a more mature actor to off set Sonakshi’s wilful and earthy charm. Abhay Deol would have been perfect….

  38. Bishes says:

    After a long long time since rang De Basanti .A movie which touched the soul,Awesome cinematography n brilliant frame capture. Bestest Directors would be jealous to see this masterpiece. This fellow Motwane is a horse of a long long race(Hindi depiction). The best thing about the movie is all the best scenes r still like picture infront of u everytime you think of it. For instance Ranbeer tying the leaf on the tree. So so live and cant be wept out at all. Pictures of these days never gets remembered once u are out of the hall. This flick remains in ur mind n ur soul for qt a while. Here’s d success of a director. Hats Off Motwane and of Course Sonakshi i am a fan of urs. U have no idea what u have to done to this film. Wise choice of the movies will definitely make u a super super star. Ranbeer’s Down to earth acting was also an asset to the movie. Thank you for presenting such an amazing movie after a long long time. Thank You and proud of Bollywood. Balaji and all people behind the scenes should take a bow.

  39. shravani says:

    Rajeev, I am a fan of most of your reviews (sometimes they are better than movies themselves)!
    For Lootera too, I agree with your review, though only in parts! Sonkashi’s performance is really good! A surprising betterment over all her previous films! And, Amit Trivedi’s music is just excellent! Can’t stop humming it!
    But! There could have been a better replacement for ranveer’s character, for its a lead charachter! you could see Ranveer in the movie than ‘varun’ ! even though the movie is slow, its hard to get involved in the story entirely! its basically this reason i find it difficult to rate a 4/5, for I have seen other slow (even slower) movies within hindi cinema which are more engaging (which I kept thinking over several days)! I personally like Motwane’s udaan more than this one!

  40. naresh says:

    hi rajeev masand, its a love saga which stirs our heart, thanks for saying picture perfect. lootera crew, if you’re listening you believed in your dream, and today world is happy that we saw your dream. keep looting hearts.

  41. Kundan Kumar says:

    Lootera-wht a gud movie must watch, if u like a different kind of story nd a intense nd excellent performance by Sonakshi.

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