A touching and haunting romance!

By Meena Yeggina

*ring: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha; Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane; Produced by: Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl; Music by: Amit Trivedi; Genre:Romance; Rate: ***/5

The movie Lootera is tragic and forlorn but definitely worth a watch. Although the film is clear of any violence or dialogues which are vulgar or insulting, kids would get bored to death by the film, unless they are teenage girls who like tragic and cultured romances set in a brilliant locale (like my daughter who thought the movie is excellent compared to Yeh Jawani Hain Deewani and "Student of the Year," which to her are pure "male chauvinist piggish romances with no brainers"). However, both of the aforementioned movies made tons of money at the box office while Lootera might lose out, in spite of its tremendous artistic and exquisite performance value.

What Lootera lacks is entertainment in Bollywood style.

Based on writer O.Henry's book, "The Last Leaf," Lootera takes you back to the 1950s of West Bengal. The story revolves around a rich girl, Pakhi Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha) and conman Varun Shrivastav (Ranveer Singh). The two youngsters fall in love with each other when Varun (acting as an archaeologist) plans to con Pakhi's father, an affluent zamindar in the Minapur area of West Bengal. After the father dies of shock, Pakhi moves to a house in Dalhousie to start fresh, the lovers meet again under extremely different circumstances.

Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane of Udaan fame, the movie is breathtakingly well-researched, with painting-like scenes and an appropriate star cast. The zamindar captured my attention with his exquisite flare, polished behavior and British accent. He reminded me of my grandfather who had the same pride, education, yet dedication towards his family. This zamindar is not the rowdy-ish, plundering and conniving looter of the poor and downtrodden, but a cultured, blueblooded, trusting and cultured gentleman with such immense love for his daughter that your heart aches more for him than for her being cheated. Veteran Barun Chanda (who uses words like umartaraaz with near-Utpal Dutt gravitas) as the unassuming zamindar who refuses to believe that times is changing is simply superb.

The very best moments in Lootera are the entirely wordless ones. Shifting seamlessly from feisty to fragile to bitter, Sonakshi delivers a deeply heartfelt performance that feels mature beyond her years. As an indulged daughter, her confusion to the rejection of her love is well-played. Her continual sickness in the movie gives her the look of a suffering Meena Kumari or an ageless tragic character.

The film enhances its quality largely due to the remarkable craft shown by cinematographer Mahendra J Shetty, who has composed a film where every frame melts into the other with a most lyrical ebb and flow.

While Lootera is aesthetically made with wonderful performance by Sonakshi Sinha, Ranveer Singh's performance lacks the depth of emotional quality that Sonakshi has. He does excellent in some scenes though, such as the climax.

The highlights of Lootera, primarily the reasons you may choose to watch this film, lie in the technical departments. There is a sense of chastity in Mahendra Shetty's cinematography, a resonance in Kunal Sharma's sound design, which is reminiscent of watching older films in a time before 1950s. And finally, Aditya Kanwar's art direction is a startling recreation of period with incredible attention to detail! Lootera superbly uses technique to immerse you in the period. I also loved the haunting quality of the music by Amit Trivedi. Grab a DVD, as soon it is releases. This is a movie to watch in a leisurely pace, munching every scene in delicious detail.