Reviews - Photograph
Reviewed By Vaughan Ames
We joined Rafi touting for photographs from tourists outside Mumbai's Gateway Monument. He is barely scraping a living whilst sending much of what he does earn back to his home village to pay off a debt left by his father. One of India's many poor people, then, with no real prospects.
We also meet Miloni, a beautiful young woman who is studying to be Chartered Accountant, pressurised by her family. We gradually get the impression that she would rather be an actress (impressions are very important in this film; little is ever actually said we just have to take in the signals and work it out for ourselves). She is soon walking past the Gateway where Rafi's offer to take her picture stops her. As for most of the film, she really doesn't speak, just agrees with a shake of her head.
With some wonderful scenes of hustle and bustle at roadside stalls, we are shown that Rafi is known to everyone in the area - specifically that everyone knows about his Grandmother pressuring him to find a bride. Under all this pressure, especially when he is told his Grandmother is refusing to take her medicines until he produces a fiancée, he sends her the picture of Miloni and pretends they are together. He seems shocked even if no-one else is, that Dadi (his Gran) decides to come to see her!
Tracking Miloni down by a series of lucky breaks, he gets her to agree to pretend to be his girlfriend. She meets Dadi, who likes her and starts to give her presents. Through all this, Rafi and Miloni rarely speak either to each other or to us, but we can just feel them getting closer and closer as they start to meet up without Dadi even there...
The ending we all know is coming; they will become lovers and get married; BUT the film has a surprise for us. It ends abruptly with the two would-be lovers leaving a film early. Rafi tells Miloni the plot even though he hasn't seen it - 'all films are the same these days': Ritesh Batra, the director, has finished the film which is basically a love story by telling us that it is, well... a love story: you know what will happen now.
Why I said it had a magical difference – at least for me – was the way it just left the audience to gather impressions all the while, with no real facts to grasp. The actors were superb at showing their feelings just by their actions. That was my view; many in the audience agreed, but many others thought it was just slow! Like the ending, you could take your pick...
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