At first glance Lootera comes across as a pretty good film; not a brilliant film, but an acceptable entertainer that tries to do something different. I must also confess that I was a little exited about Lootera because Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan still remains one of the very few movies that I recommend everyone to watch.
The problem with Lootera arises as soon as you start to look beyond the nostalgic 1950s it portrays rather beautifully. The more you think about the film, the more you realize that it lacks originality and there really isn’t much to keep your attention during the two and half hour running time.
The story which takes place over two years is about the blossoming love between a conman named Varun Srivastav played by a demure Ranveer Singh and Pakhi Roychoudhary, played by Sonakshi Sinha, the only daughter of one of the last few remaining landlords in independent India. How certain circumstances and events make the two lovers fall apart and reunite later is what forms the crux of the film.
In a nutshell the film doesn’t sound that bad at all, but unfortunately by the end of it the only thing Lootera manages to steal is your time and hard earned money, and here is why;
The Romantic Couple – One of the most unfortunate aspects of the film is that the chemistry between Ranveer and Sonakshi is lacklustre. While they are modern enough to sleep with each other before marriage, there just never really is any passion between the two even till the very end. It’s almost like the director wants to show some form of pure love that defies logic, but doesn’t really go all the way to showcase it in its full grandeur. Okay he does in his final “copied” act, but to me even that didn’t have any real tenacity.
Varun Shrivastav – I had a major problem with the main character of the film. It isn’t really about the acting, as Ranveer performed fairly well, but in the way the character went about with his work. Here is a master conman who should have the charisma and panache to really take over the room and control any situation, but Ranveer’s Varun is someone who stands back and just lets things happen around him. He just doesn’t come across as the cocksure trickster that he is supposed to be.
Wasted Talent - This is where the film falters once again. It fails to make the most of the excellent supporting cast. So much talent is there supporting the film that most of the time I was looking at everyone by the two main characters that are meant to be the primary attraction. Adil Hussain as the police officer after Varun, Vikrant Massey playing Varun’s trusted friend Devdas, Divya Dutta who has a tiny non-essential role in the second half, and Barun Chanda as Zamindar S. Roychowdhry are all a pleasure to watch, but at the same time from the viewpoint of the film are wasted opportunity because all of them have very little screen time and are just bystanders in the plot.
Background Score – Nothing’s wrong with the score and it works well with the film, but technically, watching the DVD, in the first half of the film the background music is so loud at times that the dialogue ends up becoming a mumbling conversation between the characters that is hard to understand. This could possibly be a fault with the DVD, I’m not sure, but it does break away from the flow of the film. FYI, my sound system was working fine.
No Mystery – I hate it when film makers find it necessary to spoon feed every single thing to the audience. Take the fact that our main protagonist is a conman; it doesn’t take five minutes before we are bombarded with hints-a-plenty that any person with half a brain can deduce. I wish that directors would challenge the audience and take that extra step to keep the mystery of a film under wraps for as long as possible.
The Plot – Remember when I said the plot seems original at first glance? Well, it isn’t. When you look at the entirety of the film it comes across as a remake of another Hindi film called Fanaa. Similar to Fanaa, we have a young girl with a disability, blind in Fanaa whereas in Lootera Pakhi has Asthamatic attacks, falling in love with a “stanger” only to find out at half point the true identity of the person. The second half gets even more eerily similar where in both cases the girl recluses herself to a house in a cold and snowy region to have their respective lovers return while on the run from the police. Look deeper and you will find more similarities and while both films are different as well, it is hard for me to imagine that Lootera was not at least inspired from Fanaa.
Bastardising a Classic – So, the big “twist” of the film would work nicely for you if reading classics isn’t your thing. The Last Leaf by O Henry (thankfully credited by the makers) is one of the most celebrated short stories ever. Since the story is one of my favourites, the film plot became nothing but a dragging, boring, passionless, over melodramatic, predictable torture in the second half. My dislike for the film, for bastardising the story, reached new heights when in the very last act once again the director felt it necessary to spoon-feed us every minute details of the final act-of-love performed by the hero garlanded with added drama (the falling off the tree bit) that is just beyond filmy.
Yes, the film starts on a high note, but by the end is nothing but soggy story-telling the just fails to kindle any emotion in the audience.