BY ANUJ RADIA

Shoojit Sircar’s October, a film which is presented to be a story about love, promises to be quite a poignant and profound venture.

Not only does the movie aim to showcase a different variation to Varun Dhawan’s calibre as an actor, but through Banita Sandhu from Wales, Sircar once again launches a new talent in Bollywood.

Despite the unique appeal and impressive premise, how good is the final product? Here, is our review.

The movie narrates the story of Danish Walia aka Dan (Varun Dhawan) an intern at a five-star hotel, he is a carefree young chap.

Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu) is another intern who often bears the brunt of Dan’s audaciousness and the two know each other from College.

Post a sudden and unfortunate turn of events, things drastically change, resulting in Dan and Shiuli’s lives intertwined with each other.

A transformation happens and a special bond develops between the two. But unlike any other ‘love’, this is more of a deeper connection.

As prominently mentioned by Shoojit Da and the crew in the media, the movie truly turns out to be a story about love.

It is interesting to see how a mere acquaintance like Dan becomes a really close friend to Shiuli and that too under such serious circumstances.

The film doesn’t fall for the formulaic Bollywood style of love, where a hero/heroine realises how much they are attached to an individual following a ‘Lambi Judai’ (dramatic separation). October highlights a different and more complex shade to love, which is not unconditional, but a pure selfless love.

What I particularly like in this film, is Sircar’s method of transition. At one point, flowers and the changing season are the main focus.

This almost becomes symbolic of how nature continues its course and so does Shiuli-Dan’s lives in a slow and steady manner.

As such, this portrayal about love is dynamic and unexpected. There are a few sequences which completely catch the audience off-guard and pull the heartstrings in a very precise way.

Sircar, unlike any other Bollywood filmmaker, does not focus too much on a plot’s sentimentality and that is the beauty of October.

I also like the character development, especially that of Dan. Initially, he comes across as quite a rebellious, carefree guy – almost childlike and this itself is represented through his small idiosyncrasies like stepping on washed bed-sheets.

However, after the tragic events, we get to see a more compassionate, caring and protective side to Dan, even though those quirky traits are consistent throughout.

One must, at least, give credit to Juhi Chaturvedi for penning characters which are well-developed. Intrinsically, the vivid writing smoothly translates into excellent performances by the main cast.

Varun Dhawan, to begin with, brings Dan to life. To portray such an abstract character – that too in proportion is not easy. Even during the emotional outbreaks, Varun does not overdo his part.

His performance is subtle, yet effective. I think this could be considered to be one of his best performances till date. Mr Sircar has definitely mentored him well!

Whilst October marks Banita Sandhu’s debut in Bollywood, I actually felt as though I was watching a seasoned actress.

Despite having minimal dialogue, Sandhu conveys everything through her expressions and body language. She seems so in tune with her role. Honestly, I think she can work wonders in Bollywood and beyond.

Gitanjali Rao plays Professor Vidya Iyer – Shiuli’s mother and she is a perfect asset to this talented cast lineup. In my opinion, this is one of the most realistic portrayals of a Bollywood mother. Her expressions and reactions are so natural and seem very convincing. In fact, She reminds me of Deepti Naval!

In addition to several positive aspects, there are a few downsides to October. Primarily, a negative point is that the movie progresses at a snail’s pace. It feels as though the film’s progression gets stuck, especially during the second-half.

Also, there seems to be a lack of atmosphere. Many of Shoojit’s previous ventures, regardless of how serious a film’s concept or how slow it is, there is usually an oomph which maintains the audience’s attention throughout the movie.

Here, the zest seems to be lacking, despite the fact that the emotions do strike a chord with the audience.

If we reflect back on Sircar’s filmography traits, all of his films/productions either seek to break taboos (Piku, Vicky Donor) or challenge society’s regressive mentality (Pink). Even with October, he challenges the stereotypical depiction of love in Hindi cinema. For this endeavour, I must congratulate him.

Overall, Juhi’s writing combined with Varun and Banita’s superlative performances makes this venture a decent watch, although patience is strongly required!

*** (3/5 stars)

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