Director- Ritesh Batra
Cast- Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, , Farrukh Jaffar, Ramesh Deo, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Sachin Khedekar, Vijay Raaz, Jim sarbh, Denzil smith
It’s amazing how some film makers create art out of simplicity, rhythm out of routine and magic out of mundane.
Ritesh Batra is a film maker who has created a niche after his highly acclaimed and much loved” Lunchbox “six years back.
In a very similar format ,he brings to us yet another beautiful and subtle story about how two strangers from very different backgrounds develop an unusual bonding.
Miloni( Sanya Malhotra) belongs to a middle class family of Mumbai. She is a CA foundation topper studying for CA inter.She is docile and quiet to the extent of being almost comatose, just going about her life mechanically.
Rafi( Nawaz) is a struggling photographer working in Mumbai, lives in a one room shanty shared with few friends , is trying hard to clear his family debts and cope up with his grandma’s pressure to get married.
A chance encounter and a clicked photograph leads to an unusual situation with Miloni posing as Rafi’s fiancé to meet his grandmother ( Farukhh Jaffar).
These meetings show them developing an unusual bond and attraction . Unusual because of their social, economic and religious differences. Unusual because words and emotions were never shared.
What sets Batra’s movies apart is his unique format in which he uses the silences more than words.The brief exchanges say much more than long dialogues and each frame has so much to convey.
He uses different means to explain his well etched characters and often leaves you to your own interpretations about “whys”and in the end “what now”.
For example,a dialogue by Miloni says a lot. In her own photograph she saw a girl who was happier and more beautiful than her. Perhaps after her routine and boring life and seemingly imposing and unempathetic family , a different social setting had a charm as a whiff of fresh air to her. Village life seemed more appealing to her than the monotonous city life. Seems romanticised and immature but thats how she probably felt.
An absolutely superb cinematography by Tim Gillins and Ben Kutchins was in perfect sync with the director’s style.
The way his camera focuses and lingers ensures that you absorb the wonderful little nuances like Miloni’s fidgeting, or Nawaz ‘s million dollar expressions or the detailing of the sets, the real life locations and a realistic picture of bustling Mumbai life in a pleasant and lively manner.
Nawazuddin is an actor who has mastered his craft to the extent that he portrays every character effortlessly. Rafi’s compromise with life, his subdued longing and hesitant emotions were conveyed very well.
Sanya had a challenge standing up to Nawaz with a role that had negligible dialogues. She stands up well as the quiet and hesitant Miloni.
Farukhh Jaffar ( the veteran actor also seen in Secret Superstar and Sultan) plays loving and doting grandmother. She was terrific as the outspoken dadi.
Geetanjali Kulkarni as Mioni’s house help was striking . Her brief exchanges with Miloni stood out beautifully.
The small bunch of Rafi’s friends were noticeably good in their small roles.
This piece of art is from a different niche just like Lunchbox was. Admittedly, it might not be aromatic and flavoured like the yummy Lunchbox but it has a soothing pace and subtle charm of its own. The simplicity of characters and portrayal by the actors is visual treat.
It’s a must watch for Nawaz fans and for those who have a palate for slow and artful cinema that gives you a lot to absorb and interpret.
Score 8 on 10