When was the last time that within the first 15 minutes of the film you thought to yourself, “This is a great movie”? If you don’t recall any such memory in your recent past, Ritesh Batra’s “Photograph” will give you just that moment. On the conceptual level, “Photograph” is a simple story of two lonely people in a crowded city of Mumbai falling in love. But beneath the layer, it’s the story of loneliness itself. The feeling of isolation even in a densely populated metropolitan is unnerving and it’s the emotion shared by millions in our country everyday. And that’s what the “Lunchbox” director has done with his latest work.
“Photograph” is the story of two people belonging to different strata of society who come together thanks to unusual circumstances. Rafiq (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a photographer at the Gateway of India, Mumbai. He stays in a slum. Rafiq’s grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar), based in his village in Uttar Pradesh, is old and is distressed by Rafiq’s refusal to get married. She hence stops taking her medicine as a sign of protest. To pacify his grandmother, Rafiq lies to her that he is in a relationship with a girl named Noorie. He even sends her a picture of a girl he claims is Noorie. The picture, however, is that of Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), a scholar from a Gujarati family. The grandmother is delighted and expresses her wish to meet Noorie. What follows is Rafiq’s endeavour to convince Miloni to meet his grandmother as Noorie and the love that slowly, gently blossoms between the two.
If you’re into fast-paced, flashy, dreamy love stories, take a break and check this one out. For this slow burn of a film soothingly makes your heart melt without going over the top. During the 1 hour 50 minute runtime of the film, you might sometime feel that it’s being stretched unnecessarily. But be patient and stay with it because the end rewards are fruitful. The dialogues seem real and the emotions portrayed by the characters do not feel overdone.
Expectations were quite high with Ritesh Batra considering his last film “The Lunchbox”. And sadly, often artists are stereotyped with their initial works. But in spite of this, Batra brought in a fresh take on a love story often told keeping the sweetness and simplicity that such a story requires. The screenplay, though shaky in a very few places, manages to keep the audience engaged. The raw and realistic cinematography by Ben Kutchins and Timothy Gillis has shown the aforementioned loneliness inside the Mumbaikars even after living among each other in close proximity. The city is overcrowded with isolated strangers.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a prime example of constantly being stereotyped as the foul-mouthed gangster. But he is also constantly breaking typecasting and setting new benchmarks for himself. Rafiq feels like just another struggling younger in a big city who has no big hopes for his future yet keeps going for the sake of his folks. The sheer brilliance with which Nawaz has played said character, you will laugh and cry along with Rafiq. Sanya Malhotra has stolen the show all the way. Her simplistic and charming portrayal of Miloni will not only let you relate with the character’s life but also her loneliness. Her chemistry with Nawaz during those tender scenes seem charmingly innocent. Farrukh Jaffar has done complete justice to her role and has played Rafiq’s grandmother effortlessly.
On the whole, it’s a rare and true cinematic experience. Here’s giving it 3 out of 5 stars. Movies like these need immense support from us as the audience, not only for the sake of this particular film but future films like these and future filmmakers like Ritesh Batra who are willing to do the unconventional. For this might lead a way for movies of better quality and meaningful content. Add this movie to your plans this weekend and you won’t regret it.
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