Review By : Movie Run Time : 1 hour 50 minutes Censor Rating : U

Production: Poetic License Motion Pictures, RSVP Movies Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra Direction: Ritesh Batra Screenplay: Ritesh Batra Story: Ritesh Batra Music: Peter Raeburn Background score: Peter Raeburn Cinematography: Ben Kutchins, Tim Gillis Dialogues: Ritesh Batra

Ritesh Batra's Photograph is one of those rare films that find beauty in a busy and bustling city like Mumbai through the prism of seclusion and lack of noise, creating an atmosphere that is completely contrary to the overcrowded ambiance. Within that space, we see a friendship brewing between a man and a woman, who are poles apart in terms of wealth and ambition but still feel like mirror images of each other.

Photograph is a film about a financially struggling street photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who tries to convince a recluse Miloni (played by Sanya Malhotra) to pretend to be his fiancee so that his grandmother doesn't try to set him up with an alliance. The premise feels familiar and has the makings of a comedy of errors. But the writing in the initial portions doesn't let us into that path. For instance, Miloni used to be a good actor, whose dreams are eventually killed for the billionth time by her parents. This buried aspect within her never leads to errors and confusion, it leads to restained moments of sweetness, particularly between Miloni and Rafi's Grandmother. Rafi is a loner by choice whereas Miloni's loneliness is due to the boredom caused by her goals or to be more precise, her parents' goals.

Photograph never dramatizes Rafi and Miloni's struggles and does not create a big deal out of it. Their hopes and dreams are expressed through seemingly throwaway lines. The initial portions have some real crowd-pleasing moments, particularly the ones involving Rafi's grandmother, a character who is less uptight than Miloni's city-bred parents. Her snarky comebacks for Rafi's words are an absolute delight. The initial portions work mainly because of the film's less hurried pace, letting us be a part of the proceedings without any interruptions.

But it is the latter portions, with the ones involving a dead tenant's spirit and the really unwanted moment between Miloni and her creepy teacher (played by Jim Sarbh). Miloni's parents feel very one note in terms of characterization. It really deviates from the life-like tone set by the film's first half. But still, the second half does not entirely lose track and regains itself through a subplot involving a now-defunct soft drink brand.

Photograph is a nuanced look at urban loneliness, particularly amongst youth trapped in peer pressure, highlighted by, very reduced sound design and framing that embraces the dead space of the Miloni's surroundings and the shallow-focus that isolates Rafi from the busiest of lanes in the Maximum city. Sanya Malhotra performance carries the muted sadness of Miloni with so much effortlessness (the lack of make-up complements the character very well). The writers explore the rich heritage a migrant discards, only to pursue a menial job in the cities. Photograph is a nostalgia trip that celebrates the slowness of life (and the visual medium) and man's ability to reminisce and celebrate memories, but leaves us with a lot more to be desired.

Verdict: Photograph is a leisurely paced story of friendship with lots of nostalgic elements.


2.75 5 ( 2.75 / 5.0 )





Photograph (aka) Photo-graph

Photograph (aka) Photo-graph is a Hindi movie. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra are part of the cast of Photograph (aka) Photo-graph. The movie is directed by Ritesh Batra. Music is by Peter Raeburn. Production by Poetic License Motion Pictures, RSVP Movies, cinematography by Ben Kutchins, Tim Gillis.