Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farukh Jafar, Sachin Khedekar, Jim Sarbh, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Akash Sinha
Director: Ritesh Batra
Rating: * * * ½
‘Photograph’ is another concept driven film from Ritesh Batra – with what seems like a similar theme as in his much lauded break-out film, ‘Lunchbox.’ The film is about two lonely souls finding comfort in an unlikely kinship that allows each to override their individually repressed personalities and be more than what they were before.
Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) is a CA foundation topper who does nothing but study and live-up to her dominant parents’ expectations while Rafiq (Nawazuddin) is a struggling, impoverished portrait photographer peddling his skills at the Gateway of India. The unlikely pair meet. She is persuaded to get her photograph clicked but doesn’t collect – thus leaving open some room for further contact. But it’s not the way you might think.
Rafiq gets into a bind when his ageing grandmother refuses to take her medicines unless he agrees to wed. Instead of acquiescing to the emotional blackmail, Rafiq decides to use Miloni’s photograph as a means to keep his carping Grandmother at bay. A whole slew of complications follow forth from that lie.
Ritesh Batra, as is his forte, assembles a series of eloquently evocative moments both humorous and sad, drawn from the tight-reined expressiveness of Sanya and Nawaz, contrasting minimal dialogue and robust enthusiasm from a rather apt supporting cast, to convey the acute pain of loneliness and the need for some form of release.
There is a strong vein of sadness that runs through the film and you feel it reflected in the manner in which the relationship pans out eventually. Their meeting may have been coincidental but as the mismatched couple continue to find reasons to meet, we see them slowly evolving out of their defensive shells. But this is not a relationship drawn from passion or intense romance.
Miloni and Rafiq are basically tortured souls searching for that silver lining that will take them out of the drudgery of their respective pursuits – at least for a brief interlude. Together they exist in that special Ritesh Batra designed bubble which could burst anytime. And probably that’s all their fleeting meetings might amount to. Working well within his niche, Batra designs that impossible romance that suddenly appears to have opened up to fresh possibilities. This is nuanced cinema that opens up your mind to a wider range of content than what mainstream Bollywood has to offer!