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October  : Season Of Love & Growing Up
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Friday, April 13, 2018
Romance
Shoojit Sircar
Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu

If you’re looking for entertainment with an underlying layer of warm familial ties like Piku, set that thought aside. If you think you’re in for a hard-hitting Pink kind of experience, banish that too, although director Shoojit Sircar once again quietly showsthe strength of a woman without sledge-hammering it.

 

Writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sircar who collaborated so delightfully in Vicky Donor and Piku, go down a totally different route this time.It actually has the sentimentality of the Eric Segal novel Love Story that was a runaway hit both as a book and as a movie in 1970.

 

Closer home and in more modern times, we’ve seen Ventilator, a successful Marathi film with black humour that revolved around a patient on life support. There was also the interesting Naseeruddin Shah-Kalki Koechlin film Waiting which touched upon the sensitive situation of pulling the plug on a dear one who’s on the ventilator.

 

Shoojit goes into the same territory with a different story to tell but the delicate trauma is familiar and identifiable. His hero Dan, a flawed hotel employee, is also someone most have encountered at the workplace. Telling off a regular customer or slacking off and being caught on camera are his regular shenanigans.

 

October is a world peopled by those you meet every day. Imperfect but not bad. There are friends who pragmatically go about their work with little time for hospital duty but they have their soft side. We’ve all seen colleagues like Dan who’re impractical andimpetuous, have anger issues, don’t manage their finances well and drive you up the hotel wall until they grow up. But Shoojit’s hero has a heart that sometimes ticks for the right reasons and even those who’re bugged with him can see it, sense it. A boss named Asthana has to do his daily duty of pulling up the errant worker but he’s no villain of the place.

 

One day when something really awful happens at the hotel, Dan’s not around. Shoojit brings up his absence a few times but never really answers it. But the incident draws the hero closer to the patient on the ventilator. It makes him more of a slacker at his workplace but more caring, more responsible at the hospital where even the staff is drawn to him.   

 

Strength comes from Vidya Iyer, the patient’s mother, who goes through the expected gamut of situations, emotional and financial, with an unspoken dignity that never wavers even when in doubt.

 

With lyrical photography by Avik Mukhopadhyay that lingers on the loveliness of nature, the seasons change even as the condition of Shiuli Iyer, the girl on the ventilator, brings hope and despair in turns. It’s bitter-sweet as Dan also transforms from the unreliable brat to the pillar in the patient’s family. And before you go home, Shoojit does tell you why his heroine is called Shiuli which in turn explains the title of the film. 

 

Leisurely made, this is not the cinema of frantic gyrations and Judwaa-kind of comedy that Varun Dhawan specialises in and will perhaps endear itself to the elitist, multiplex audience. That’s if they have the patience to watch what unfolds unhurriedly. Banita Sandhu is acceptable as Shiuli but it’s Geetanjali Rao playing her mother who’s a picture of restraint even as you know she’s breaking and grieving.  

 

Verdict:Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi make a foray into new territory, telling a mushy love story without melodrama.

 

For a film that looks at a multiplex audience and awards committees, October gets a 3* rating.

Direction: 4/5

Screenplay: 3/5

Story: 3/5

Dialogues: 3/5

Music: 3/5

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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