New Delhi: They say love is a universal emotion. That it is timeless and holds as much relevance in present times as it did in the past. And yet, Vikramaditya Motwane chose the year 1953 to narrate a love story in his latest film 'Lootera'. While critics are showering laurels over this vintage love story, one wonders why there was a need to set the story in the post partition Bengal.
Would the film have worked if it was set in 2013? On the face of it, it would perhaps, considering the premise of the film is a love story. But when one dwells a bit deeper into the story and the characters, one realises that Motwane's story works only because the era is 1953.
There are spoilers ahead. In case you haven't watched the film, please come back to the article later.
1. Set in Manikpur, Bengal, the film opens to a shot of a Zamindar and his people enjoying Jatra(Bengali folk theatre) in his palatial residence during the annual Durga Puja festival. His daughter, Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) giggles and lauds the performance with her constant companion cum best friend. Sonakshi, an asthma patient has grown up in the comforts of luxury, studied in Shantiniketan,a college for the elite at that point of time and aspires to be a writer. With no career in sight, Sonakshi spends most of her time peeping through windows, driving around her father's estate with her companion or scribbling words in a diary. Such things in present day are considered luxury even for educated, rich women.
2. Like a true blue royal blood, Pakhi's father, the Zamindar of Manikpur (Barun Chanda), indulges his guest and lives a life of aplomb. The Zamindar is kind hearted and welcomes a stranger (Ranveer Singh) to his house to stay who is the village on the pretext of excavating the ground near the family's temple. No background check, no verification about their actual identity, the Zamindar allows two strangers to excavate land near the temple which consists family heirloom worth lakhs of rupees.
3. Varun and Pakhi fall in love in a span of a month. Love, perhaps was easier at that point of time and supposed to be eternal. Because after spending a night together, Varun who actually had come to rob off the family, seeks permission from the father of the girl he has made love to the previous night to get married. Because in those days love led to marriage. Things are strikingly different now where you may fall in love with someone but not really end up with them in life and its okay to do that.
4. After being betrayed and robbed off by Varun, Pakhi's father passes away. Instead of taking up a job or managing her father's estate, Pakhi shifts to the family's summer home in Dalhousie where she writes and watches the world pass by. No source of income, yet Pakhi manages to employ a housekeeper who looks after her and takes care of her house.
5. Motwane's 'Lootera' celebrates love of the eternal kinds. The hero leaves the heroine at the altar and she loathes him for whatever he did to her and her father. But when a year later he comes back to her life, and seeks refuge at her home while the police is looking for him, she doesn't turn him to the police and is even scared that the police will kill him. While the emotion remains the same even now, but love in its entirety has changed. In an age of instant food, love is more out of convenience and no one has really got the time to sit and mope about a failed relationship.
While the film has certain loose ends, nothing can take away the brilliant screenplay of the film. In spite of certain glitches, the film manages to stun you with its canvas. The film has the perfect old world charm and perhaps, if the characters were based in a story of present times, the beauty of the film would have been lost.