Once upon a time
I must admit that Lootera was approached with ample hesitation for primarily two reasons. Ranveer and Sonakshi.
While Ranveer Singh has more often than not been type-cast as the smart aleck off the streets (Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Band Baaja Baraat) who sweeps women off their feet, ‘call him a flirt but don’t tag him’ (sic); Sonakshi Sinha pretty much floats through Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore, Joker without really having to act. Putting these two together isn't exactly a dream come true - histrionically of course.
But this is where Vikramaditya Motwane deserves a pat on his back or a standing ovation because he makes Sonakshi and Ranveer look great on screen and the whole movie wraps you like a light cashmere blanket.
Lootera, the name gives the plot away, is about a con-man (Varun - Ranveer) who robs an aging zamindar (Barun Chanda) off all his treasures, his family heirloom and leaves his daughter (Pakhi - Sonakshi) heartbroken. After a year, Pakhi and Varun come face to face and the tussle ensues - to recover from the heartbreak and live or to let it all go.
Based loosely on O Henry’s The Last Leaf, Lootera takes a step ahead merging a simple story with some classic romance, stunning visuals and some brilliant music. Though at moments the story seems to stretch but Motwane makes it all look so beautiful that it is difficult to take your eyes off the screen. Be it the sprawling haveli in Manikpur or the snowed over chalet in Dalhousie or the insides of (what looks completely like) Peter Cat restaurant in Kolkata - Lootera is like a sublime painting. Smoothed over, soft to the eyes, easy contours and so dreamy.
Motwane’s eye for details must be lauded. He has aced the period perfectly. Though romance lies at the core of Lootera, it would be wrong to simplify the movie as a period romance. In ways more than one, Lootera is a testimony of sorts to history - the story of the end of Zamindari in India, the fading legacy of feudalism.
Old zamindar Roy Choudhury, with his immaculate white kurtas and scotch in crystal glasses, is the face that haunts you the most. The man loses his gait and delightful charm as acres of his land are taken away from him, as his heirlooms disappear and then when his daughter breaks her heart - he knows he has nothing left to lose.
The love story hurtles towards a predictable end but visually it is sheer poetry. The chemistry between the actors seem to have been taken out off the pages of a Bronte romance. The restraint, the ease and the resolution and yet, the ache lingers.
Ranveer in his high waisted pants and his wayfarers and Sonakshi in her stunning saris settle right into the 1950s, the roles work for them excellently. However, Barun Chanda, Adil Hussain, Divya Dutt and Vikrant Massey make their own places in your mind and are as much a part of the dreamy weave as the lovers are.
We give it a star less from perfection only because the plot lies too simple and seems contrived at moments, but a more complicated plot would have taken away the magic of Lootera. No win there.
I wanted to watch Lone Ranger and Despicable Me 2 with much more than I wanted to watch Lootera. But now that I have - it would be have been a mistake to have missed it.