To begin with, do not go for October expecting a Piku or a Vicky Donor. For the film completely abandons plot and robust characters a la the earlier two outings of the writer-director duo, Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar. It, instead, waits for life to gradually unfold with all its myriad hues. And it has to be said that the two largely succeed in this endeavor. October is a muted look at love, pathos, tragedy and most importantly, dignity.
Banita Sandhu (Shiuli) and Varun Dhawan (Dan for Danish) are hotel management trainees at a suburban five star hotel in Delhi. The two are more colleagues, than friends. While Shiuli comes across as a balanced youngster, it is Dan who is all over the place. He is clumsy, irresponsible and mean with adjustment issues. A terrible accident changes their lives forever as Shiuli and Dan form an inexplicable bond in the face of tragedy.
What unfolds thereafter is a slow brewing of love, and a keen observation of how strangers bond and new relationships form in the face of trying circumstances. The hospital corridors become a melting pot of subdued warmth, compassion and humor between family and friends. Kudos to Juhi who can make us smile and laugh even when she wants us to negotiate inevitable, harsh realities of life.
Banita Sandhu chooses a difficult role and a brave film for her debut and deserves all the praise for it and her performance as well. It is not an easy role to essay and yet, she makes it her own. A big thumbs up to Varun Dhawan for choosing a film like October and trying really hard to stretch himself. The flip side is that though sincere, he is still ‘trying’.
The real big plus in the performances is another debutant. Gitanjali Rao, the animation filmmaker turned actor. As Dr Vidya Iyer, an IIT professor and Shiuli’s mother, Gitanjali is a picture of grace and quite dignity. Watch her in the scene where the doctor is telling her about the prognosis or when she tells Dan to go away. Her still face speaks volumes. Vidya’s bond with Dan is deep because it develops over a period of time and never ever crosses the boundary of subtlity. Rao will haunt you even after you have walked out of the auditorium. The remaining supporting cast, too, is more than competent.
However, there is a little chink in the armor as well. We are not quite told as to what brings about a sudden change in Dan? Why does he respond to Shiuli the way he does once she is frozen in time? The slight drag in the first half could well have been replaced by giving the audience a bit more insight into him. But these are minor glitches in an otherwise well-written film.
Director Shoojit Sircar, along with his cinematographer Avik Mukherjee, carressingly captures the atmosphere of pathos and love. Avik’s camera beautifully focusses on a solitary flower or a squirrel, nonchalantly reminding us that life carries on no matter what. Editor Chandrashekhar Prajapati infuses much soul in the languid pace of the film, never in a hurry to interrupt the flow of time. And Shantanu Moitra’s backgorund score is unobtrusive yet effective, just the way it should be.
Shoojit Sircar’s bold effort is truly not a love story but a heartfelt film about LOVE!
Hindi, Drama, Color