I almost did not watch this movie. I am not a great fan of Ranveer Singh, and the trailers themselves were so uninspiring. This makes one remember how important are promos for a film, particularly in how they are supposed to give you the flavors and more importantly, the strengths of the actual movie. Here they did not. I went to the theater expecting a love story with some gun shots at the end against the backdrop of Bengal with the picnic scenes ripped off from Chokher Bali (unless it was typical of the Bengalis of the yore to picnic in their tree gardens and exchange glances). It all was there, but there was much more this movie, had to offer, was all about.
For starters, the makers chose Bengal. There is something about the place which imparts gravity to any work which is based there. Bengal, I think, still stands for culture, its natural beauty, its adorable language and its utter stubbornness to change. The movie makes great use of all of this. It is beautiful to look at. But that is not a lot to say, is it? A beautiful movie has got to be backed up by performances. It is.
It was really sincere, the movie. It did not overtly try to be a period drama, or a bengali film, or a heist movie, or a love story or anything for that matter, and in the process became all of it. It just told its story, if I might add, on the shoulders of Sonakshi Sinha, who is in such top effortless form that it was an absolute pleasure to watch her. Right from the scene where she takes her hands off the car wheels and takes for granted her driver would take the blame, to spilling coffee on the cocky guest, to setting up the art classes to regularly meet the guy and ends up teaching (the whole leaf drawing episode was hilariously sweet), to expressing her sadness and then the anger, particularly the anger, upon realizing that her love might be lost. She is amazing and here it only helps that she speaks with a little Bhojpuri touch. And she was so in character though in through. I could point out at least three occasions when she was not in focus and still carried the same intensity. The first half was so amazingly flawless that I was wondering how are they going to keep up in the second, or were they going to mess it up.
Another character who made an unassuming but sure mark was the gentle Zamindar, played by Mr Barun Chanda. I had never seen him before and he was absolutely a treat to watch. He was calm in his portrayal of a man of means, trusting and warm and you could feel for him when he was betrayed. I wish we see him more often.
The background score (especially just before the intermission) was another aptly placed winner of the movie. It was spot on. The songs are good too. And they were not sung, on screen, thankfully.
Ranveer SIngh. I thought he was miscast, before I saw the movie. And he just barely made his grade. He was not bad, of course. I think, he is an extremely hard working guy but his fusion with Anushka Sharma has left such an indelible (north Indian, quick speaking) mark on him that it must be hard for him to speak like a man from Darbhanga. So the director just said “Speak as flat as you can, Ranveer.” And he did just that. There is one more character, played by Vikrant Massey, who is Ranveer’s friend and accomplice, a position so almost absolutely reserved for Aditya Roy Kapur, that I actually saw Kapur when the character walked in. LOL
And lastly the curious case of The Last Leaf. I realized it about halfway through the second half when SInha writes about it. It was kind of nice to remember a story you read (Read for Pleasure, I think) in school all of a sudden. I could not remember the author of course and promptly tried to spoil the suspense for my partner who was watching the movie with me. But looking back, it was a little funny how the filmmakers actually accommodated the inspiration from the short story, starting from the Art Class episode of the first half and the totally random desire by the protagonist to someday draw a masterpiece.
But you know what, I loved the movie. And I strongly urge you to pay a visit. I fought my desire to write a review for almost two days, and it still got the better of me. The movie is that good.
PS: I almost forgot one of the things which made me smile. The use of third person between the girl and the guy while they talk about themselves in matters of love. Absolutely masterclass !!