Lootera Movie Review by Taran Adarsh

Did you ever anticipate Vikramaditya Motwane to put together a period film with mainstream actors, after attempting the brilliant slice-of-life drama UDAAN? Nope, not me at least… But maverick film-makers, by and large, tend to drop a bombshell by opting for a contrasting theme in their ensuing movie. The question is, will Motwane ship yet another dazzling nugget in his subsequent outing? Let’s find out…

LOOTERA is inspired by American author O. Henry’s short story ‘The Last Leaf’. Let’s set the record straight by stating that Motwane hasn’t adapted the story in its entirety. He has made modifications, of course… the most vital one being injecting the protagonist’s character [Ranveer Singh] in the plot, which did not exist in the story. For those not acquainted with the story, it’s about this dying girl who watches the leaves fall from a plant outside the windowpane and believes that the day the last leaf falls, she too would pass away.

LOOTERA is a captivating tale that reverberates with emotions and passion and encapsulates the highs and lows of a stormy relationship magnificently. Penned with utmost sensitivity and crafted delicately and thoughtfully, the film is akin to a beautiful painting on celluloid!

1953. West Bengal. Varun [Ranveer Singh] arrives in Manikpur. He impresses the zamindar and his family, especially his daughter Pakhi [Sonakshi Sinha], who finds herself drawn towards him.

Soon, Varun and Pakhi are involved in a passionate relationship, but Varun does a volte face and disappears. When truth dawns upon Pakhi’s father, he suffers a stroke and passes away. Pakhi decides to move on, determined to forget Varun. She arrives in Dalhousie, but as destiny would have it, Varun walks into her life again…

The premise of LOOTERA may bring back memories of several films. But it’s the mood, the ambience, the treatment that lures you into the world of Varun and Pakhi. The old world charm of Bengal and Dalhousie only enhances the impact, while the varied twists in the tale catch you absolutely unaware, especially when one is guessing about what course the storyline would take after a major twist during the interval point.

LOOTERA bears the look of a classic. The visuals, the shade palette, the objet d’art, the milieu, the apparel… even the way the characters communicate at an unhurried, easygoing pace and share emotions takes you back to the bygone era.

UDAAN gestured the initiation of an accomplished storyteller’s journey and LOOTERA cements it. In years to come, Motwane may emerge as the frontrunner thanks to the plot/s he chooses to narrate and most significantly, the brilliance with which he narrates it. The sparkling chemistry between the actors, the atmospherics, the storytelling… LOOTERA is a demanding film to make, but the director warrants colossal admiration for jubilantly narrating a tale that settles in your heart… and moistens your eyes at varied junctures.

Of course, the narrative unravels at an unhurried pace, but let’s not forget that this one has an old-world charm that cannot be rushed. The moments and pauses are to be enjoyed in a film like this!

Every frame of LOOTERA exudes sensuality, partly because the chemistry between the on-screen lovers — Ranveer and Sonakshi — is scorching. The fervor and passion the two actors emanate on screen, while living those characters, leaves you awe-struck. LOOTERA is further embellished with dialogue that corresponds so delightfully with the premise. The lines are dreamy, romantic and acidic, as per the situation. The contribution by the DoP is equally pertinent, with the frames appearing to be a painting in motion.

The evaluation would be imperfect without highlighting Amit Trivedi’s contribution to the motion picture. The soundtrack is seeped in melody and mirrors the era that the director illustrates on celluloid. True to the concept, Trivedi takes you back to the long-gone period with his melodies.

While Ranveer and Sonakshi anchor the movie with supreme performances, even the ones in supporting parts leave an ineradicable impact. Ranveer has been entrusted with a complicated character so early in his career. Besides playing an intense lover, he plays a reticent and brooding character, something he hasn’t explored in his earlier films. And Ranveer makes the most of it by making the character come alive. The character has disconcerting shades and it is imperative that he uses his eyes to leave a mark, which he does so at a variety of stages. He’s simply fantastic!

Like Ranveer, Sonakshi too gets the most demanding role of her career thus far and what makes it even more complicated for the youngster is the fact that she has to shoulder the responsibility of hauling the film on her shoulders when Ranveer makes a brief exit, only to re-emerge after a point. Sonakshi is a revelation in LOOTERA; her performance is, beyond doubt, top notch. She glides into her part with such effortlessness that it catches you by complete surprise. She’s magnificent!

Divya Dutta is super in a cameo. Vikrant Massey is first-rate. Shirin Guha is appropriate. Arif Zakaria is tremendous. Adil Hussain delivers a punch-packed performance. Barun Chanda, as Sonakshi’s father, is brilliant.

On the whole, LOOTERA is an intrinsically earnest and profoundly heartwarming story that stays in your heart. An absolute must for those who love romantic films or are romantic at heart. This one’s a cinematic gem!

Rating: Four Stars.


  1. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Lootera Movie Review by Rajasen

    Lootera is a gorgeous, gorgeous film, one that uses its period setting affectionately, with loving detail, and not exploitatively, as our cinema is wont to do, writes Raja Sen.

    “Once upon a time.”

    Those are four magic words, four words that promise us the world, adventure and romance and fantasy and drama. The starter’s pistol to any fairytale, they offer up immediate escape: “a time” is never now, you see, and we’re instantly whisked away from the humdrum of our everyday.

    Our imagination, like a suddenly alert hound, perks up its ears and begins to underscore even ordinary narratives with flourishes the narrator never spells out. With those four words in place, anything can follow.

    Vikramaditya Motwane understands this well, which is why his masterful adaptation of a classic O Henry story, nearly a hundred years old, begins with a father caressing a daughter with far older folklore.

    As the ailing daughter listens, the story snaps a character’s neck, and the bassline in her head begins to thrum. Lootera makes it crystal clear right from the start that it is an old-world tale — one involving buried treasure, no less, and rhymes about lizards and rats — and then, with its sleeves rolled up, begins to enchant.

    The film opens gently, with a cough. The girl is a writer, the daughter of a Bengali zamindar — naturally she’d have studied at Shantiniketan? That’s what the boy rightly assumes, popping into her path as an archaeologist, but now shoehorned into her service as an art teacher. He pretends, she indulges, and one thing leads inevitably to another until we come thudding across to that heartbreaking finale we inaccurately thought we’d braced ourselves for.

    An exquisite but hard-to-translate word in Bengali called “aadikheta” means, in my clumsy approximation, an appetite for being pampered (worded as if pampering were a sweetmeat), and I can think of no better word for Motwane’s heroine, Pakhi. A feisty girl who has largely been bred on affection by her doting father, her intelligence doesn’t get in the way of her wondering, during the abolition of zamindari in the early 1950s, just what the government will do by seizing their gardens. So used is she to having her way that when a man thwarts her overtures, the feeling of rejection is too unfamiliar to register. Instead, she is merely confounded.
    Click here!

    Her fellow, Varun, is a more street-smart sort, one who might not watch a film as soon as it releases but knows enough to cheekily make a reference to it later. When we first meet him, he’s calm, unhurried and mostly unflappable — playing an art-teacher might be a stretch for him, however. Nevertheless, he gamely calls drawing leaves easy, and confidently daubs at the canvas with green paint. The contrast between the two characters is delightful, and the actors conjure up a fierce, throbbing chemistry.

    Sonakshi Sinha plays Pakhi beautifully, creating a character who is immaculately wide-eyed and possesses casual, yet unmistakable, grace. It is a performance that starts off dreamily soft and turns harder, and she does well-etched dialogue justice like few actresses can. There’s a discernible vulnerability to Pakhi throughout the film, and Sinha brings out this fragility perfectly without ever overplaying it.

    Ranveer Singh matches her step for step, using his lower lip to marvelous effect. He curls it when angry, juts it out when thoughtful and lets it hang loose (and, finally, frostbitten) when he has nothing to say. And again, he plays it close to the chest, never straying from the pitch of the film: when he stammers on the word “landscape”, he lightly labours the L instead of actually repeating it. He looks good as a quiet pinup, a vintage hero in high-waisted trousers, but it is when he bedraggedly lets his seams show that Singh is at his best. He even snarls like Heathcliff.

    And despite all this proficiency with dialogue — which extends to the other great performers in the film, the veteran Barun Chanda (who uses words like “umartaraaz” with near-Utpal Dutt gravitas) and the very likable Vikrant Massey, who throws in a Devsaab impression — the very best moments in Lootera are the entirely wordless ones.

    This is 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.

    Lootera is a gorgeous, gorgeous film, one that uses its period setting affectionately, with loving detail, and not exploitatively, as our cinema is wont to do. Shetty pores over it all — from the lace curtains to the mosquito nets, from the checkerboard floors of the old mansion to the frozen-over remnants of a roadside shrine to a dashboard light surrounded by open-air darkness — but the way he frames his actors’ faces may be the greatest masterclass on offer.

    Both Sinha and Singh have distinctive noses, and rather than divert attention away from them the film embraces the contrast, highlighting it by a profile shot of the two in the same frame.

    Before we encounter Sonakshi’s nose we see that of a Durga effigy, and the uniqueness of the actress’ nose is thrown automatically into sharp relief.

    Later, when Sinha’s angry, the lens is positioned to make her nose look like a menhir; it’s always intentional, and it’s always captivating. Singh’s is a more angular nose, one that looks pointy as sweat drips off it during a dimly lit-scene, and the first time the two kiss, it is preceded by an eskimo-style rubbing of the noses. Many cinematographers can conjure up moody shadows and beautiful frames, but what is on show here — as Sinha looks through a big magnifying glass to make her eyes appear huge, as the Bengali-girl stereotype dictates — is so much more special, and Shetty is clearly a wizard.

    All this while Motwane plays The Thieving Magpie. And I don’t just mean the Rossellini overture that automatically reminds me of The Castafiore Emerald.

    Lootera deftly pays tribute to Guru Dutt’s first film by way of song and name of the villain, and borrows a disease from Ritwik Ghatak’s heartwrenching Meghe Dhaka Tara. All this while genius composer Amit Trivedi uncharacteristically steals his main theme from a bad English film, as if some pickpocketry was the price of entry. In light of what the titular protagonist does, perhaps this adaptation could be titled The Last Thief.

    Either way, this is a film worth the grandest of larceny. Motwane’s direction is so assured and confident that this scarcely feels like his second feature. The script is clearly one he believes in, and the film is resultantly free of false-notes. Even the few moments that feel like narrative missteps turn out to be masterstrokes. And, as exemplified by a breathtaking chase sequence that could result in any number of outcomes, Motwane sides with his story, not with any one of his characters.

    A film, then, about life, love and leaves. And in the end it comes down to the sort of snow-surrounded tree that you can draw even if you’ve always had trouble drawing leaves. Magnificent.

    Rating: Five Stars


  2. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    I am in shock First Taran Adarsh given his rating as 4 stars in his review and now Rajasen has given Five Stars rating now I am waiting for Rajeev Masand Rating may be tomorrow I will go to Theater.

  3. Serenzy 8 years ago

    Wooh… 5-Stars by Raja Sen!

    Hope LOOTERA is better than Rnjhana(2.5/5) and YJHD(3/5) for me personally(Yet to see A2).

    Had Loved Barfi!(4/5)… Wouldn’t mind something on the same lines.

  4. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Lootera Movie Review by Aseem Chhabra

    Lootera reminds us why we like to watch films, writes Aseem Chhabra.
    Click here!

    How do two people fall in love? When do they first realize it is love and not just infatuation or physical attraction?

    In life we often wonder if it is real love that we feel for another person or an emotion with another name. So we seek wisdom of wiser people — writers, musicians and even filmmakers to guide us through that sense, since real life results in more confusion.

    In Vikramaditya Motwane’s sophomore project Lootera, the sense of love happens the first time his protagonists — Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha), the daughter of a landlord and Varun (Ranveer Singh), an archeologist with a mysterious agenda, are involved in a road accident.

    Pakhi is learning to drive a car on a small rural road and as she looks away she hits a very James Dean-like (although he also reminded me of Gael Garcia Bernal’s Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries) Varun, on a motorcycle.

    Motwane’s protagonists fall in love in a very quiet way. The director textures into his narrative many parting glances, slight conversations and playful flirtations — often aided by Amit Trivedi’s seductive score.

    For Pakhi this is clearly love. It may be her first, but she knows it. But Varun struggles with the ghosts of his past and is driven by the grey shades of his character.

    When Pakhi confronts Varun, and begs him to acknowledge that he also loves her, he keeps quiet. Love is not easy for him. There is too much holding him back and he cannot say yes even if it is just to please Pakhi, who is clearly hurting.

    That is such a heartbreakingly beautiful moment in Lootera — a rare experience in Bollywood films, where love is usually tossed loudly at the audience with a Khulam Khulla Pyar Karenge attitude. In Lootera, Pakhi’s pain at that moment is no less than that of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata when she realizes that her love for Amal will never be fully realised.

    Motwane’s Lootera (a very fine follow-up to his outstanding Udaan) is lovely film, a blessing for fans of Bollywood who seek real, relatable characters, a meaningful story, a narrative that takes them on a romantic journey, filled with a lot of joy and balanced with some much needed sense of heartache.

    It is a mature film, but it is also very entertaining — if that is the sole criteria that drive many of the audiences to thetares to watch Hindi films.

    Lootera is inspired by O Henry’s slim, 2,500-word long, Greenwich Village-based short story, The Last Leaf. Motwane and his co-writer Bhavani Iyer weave a more detailed and complex narrative around the short story, finely etching out a romance and lace it with a crime that will test the film’s overriding theme of love.

    There is one peculiar and hard to believe coincidence in the second half of Lootera, but by then I was too much in love with the film to really worry about it.

    Just two films old, Motwane shows the experience of a filmmaker who could have been making films for many years. Lootera is a period piece — first half set in rural Bengal in the early 1950s and the second in a cold, grey and snowy Dalhousie.

    Motwane’s investment in the details — the cars, the furniture and other artifacts in a Bengali landlord’s house, the costumes and the look of his characters becomes a part of his narrative. His players — especially Sinha and Singh look like people from that era, very comfortable with their appearances and their surroundings.

    Singh gives a controlled performance, acting with his smile, eyes, using a low voice and remarkably subduing the tremendous energy the actor has portrayed in his first two films and also displays in his public appearances.

    Sinha is the real surprise in the film, giving such a fine nuanced performance. As Pakhi she is a young, naïve dreamer whose heart is first stolen and later broken by a mysterious man. How does the 26-year-old who has appeared in films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore become the utterly charming Pakhi in Lootera? Definitely director Motwane has a lot do with that.

    The songs with Amit Trivedi’s compositions set to Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are playful (Sawaar Loon) and tragic (the soul of the film Ankahee), and they stay with you long after the film is over.

    Trivedi is one of the few musicians in Hindi cinema who really knows how to create a meaningful background score — not in your face loud deafening sounds, but music that eases the audience through the film’s romantic journey.

    Lootera is a gift, wrapped beautifully in a box, with enough rewards that remind us why we like films in the first place.

    Rating: Four and Half Stars


  5. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Lootera Movie Review by Gaurav Malani/TOI

    Lootera: will steal your heart!

    Lootera is based on a century-old short story ‘The Last Leaf’ by American writer O Henry. Somewhere the short story has decent potential for a short film. But Vikramaditya Motwane is one filmmaker who knows how to extract maximum gratification out of minimalism. He proved that in his debut film Udaan and he does that again in Lootera, justifying the feature length body to the soul of O Henry’s petite plot.

    Set in 1953, the story is of an archeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh) who comes for an excavation expedition on a piece of land that belongs to Pakhi’s (Sonakshi Sinha) family. Evidently Pakhi falls for the charming visitor only to face betrayal subsequently. Almost a year later, they chance upon each other and are stranded in a cottage amidst snowfall. Now Pakhi is taken over by mixed emotions towards the man while Varun seeks redemption.

    Blame it to the giveaway title, but Lootera is a love story set on the backdrop of robbery. Nevertheless, romance always remains the mainstay with a subdued shade of mystery arising out of the burglary background. There isn’t any conscious attempt to conceal the hints of an impending conspiracy in the first half, because somewhere the writers have set their genre priorities right. And thereby the screenplay substantiates the blooming romance with sparkling freshness.

    The period setting not only lends the requisite chastity to O Henry’s classic tale; it also essentially adds an old world charm to the romance. So love blooms over Dev Anand’s enchanting songs and painting lessons where the teacher ends up turning into a student. The vintage Chevrolet cars, heritage haveli and fading royalty add to the aura. The chemistry between Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh is delicate, pristine yet searing.

    Early in the second half, there seems to be a slight disconnection with the transition that comes in the plot. Also amidst chor-police chase sequences, the love story somewhere seems to go astray. Until the couple is marooned inside a log cabin under extreme weather conditions and in this confinement the love story opens up again. Under fear that the movie might get one-dimensional hereon, Motwane, on the contrary, brings out the core essence of romance in these penultimate portions.

    The director clearly strikes the right chord with the audience and the sublime and surreal shade that he imparts to the story gives it a fairy-tale touch. The warmth he brings to the romance is directly proportional to the heavy snowfall in the midst of which the climax is set. The betrayal in first half and reunion of the duo in second half are clearly reminiscent of Kunal Kohli’s Fanaa. The snowcapped settings just add to the recall value. Nonetheless, the coherence and simplicity that Vikramaditya Motwane brings to his film makes it more palatable. And thanks to the sensitivity in his direction, you overlook the shallowness in the story. The tragic end is quite evident all through yet there is that ray of hope which clings on the last leaf.

    Technically too the film is a quality product. Amit Trivedi is one music director who almost always gets the regional nuances in his compositions correct. Even the background score is resourcefully expressive. Mahendra Shetty beautifully captures the scenic and snowcapped locations and the grainy texture added to the frames amplifies the period effect.

    The film largely revolves around the lead pair and both are exceptionally good in their acts. Ranveer Singh underplays in the first half and is self-assured in the second. Sonakshi Sinha rises above her comfort zone, in a character that demands more than plain charm, and comes up with a fine act. Barun Chanda as Pakhi’s authoritative yet affectionate father leaves as much impact as his heavy-base vocal chords. Vikrant Massey as Ranveer’s friend makes a confident big screen debut.

    While it has a lot of its own, Lootera will steal your heart too!
    Verdict: Good


  6. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Lootera Movie Review by Rachit Gupta/Filmfare

    Lootera is like a Monet landscape. Picturesque and poignant at the same time. It takes a simple O Henry story – The Last Leaf, and adapts it to a period setting in Bengal and North East India. It’s a work of art. Slow, deliberate and introspective. It’s one of the best films you’ll watch this year. It’s a triumph of its director’s vision. And a win for the performances of its lead actors.

    The best literary works are essentially simple stories. What makes them great, memorable or unique is innovative wordplay. Great cinema is no different. Sometimes the way you tell the story makes all the difference and in case of Lootera, director Vikramaditya Motwane pulls all the right cinematic punches. Whether it’s his intentional hark back to Guru Dutt’s Baazi (1951) or the scene where Sonakshi Sinha plays with the bulb switch, this film looks like a perfect homage to the golden age of Indian cinema. Dutt would’ve been proud. A large part of the credit should also go to the cinematographer Mahendra Shetty and the art direction team. Not only have they got the period feel right, they’ve captured the mood of O Henry’s imagery just the way it should’ve been. Full marks to Amit Trivedi’s lyrical music that adds a great old school charm to the film.

    The simple story deals with a thug named Varun (Ranveer Singh) who arrives on the estate of a ’50s zamindar with the intentions of ripping him off. He falls in love with the zamindar’s daughter and things snow ball from there into a bevy of emotions. The beauty of Lootera lies in the fact that it intertwines tragedy and irony with wit and humour. It’s has moments of genuine humour and it has moments that wrench your heart’s vessels. All of this happens because it explores its characters relationships with a new perspective. Hindi films have taught us that lovers can run around trees. But Lootera shows you their lives can be as grim and grey as snowy evenings. And that life itself can be as frail as autumn leaves. The allegories working in Lootera are subliminal. Satyajit Ray would’ve been proud.

    There’s one minor rough edge though. The ending is a bit of a misfit. Revealing any details would be giving away spoilers but the final cut at the end leaves you with an unrequited set of emotions. The reality would be a lot more inconvenient.

    Having said that, everything about this dark love story seems right thanks to Sonakshi Sinha’s performance. If you know her as the 100-crore girl who shakes and swings at the drop of a hat you’re in for a surprise. Her nuanced act tugs at your tear glands. A good compliment to Sonakshi’s anchoring performance is Ranveer Singh’s underplay. He proves he’s an actor to reckon with. And he does so despite having a character in shadow of Sonakshi’s Pakhi. Supporting performances by Barun Chanda (playing Sonakshi’s Zamindar father), Vikrant Massey (Ranveer’s best friend) and Adil Hussain (the tough as nails cop) are all top notch too.

    Lootera is a must watch. It’s cinematic art. We should make more movies like this.


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