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It is hard to say whether Lootera has a happy or a sad ending and perhaps, that is exactly what the makers of the film aimed for.
Lootera (2013) is a film that gave us an unusual love story between two characters from completely different worlds and social classes. While doing so, it might not have broken any box office records, but it certainly shaped the careers of the two lead actors, Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh.
As the film turns ten, let’s look at five reasons that have made it unforgettable.
While most people believe Lootera to be an adaptation of O. Henry’s short story, The Last Leaf (1905), it is just the second half of the film which is actually based on that work. The first half, on the other hand, is an indirect commentary on West Bengal’s Zamindari System during the colonial times.
There are numerous questions that the initial one and half hours of Lootera compel us to ponder over: Should we be sympathising with the Zamindars who had to give up on their elitist lifestyles after the Indian government decided to put an end to the privileges they had been receiving for centuries? Were the Zamindars as exploitative as the colonisers or were they supportive towards the Indian masses? Was it fair for the Indian government to seize the heirlooms that had remained in the families of these Zamindars for generations, but had been handed to them by the British?
There aren’t many Bollywood films that allow their characters to remain imperfect without attempting to paint them as either completely flawless or entirely immoral. That way, Lootera was one such film that neither had protagonists we, as viewers, were expected to look up to nor antagonists deserving condemnation.
Varun (Ranveer Singh) can be seen as an antihero, but he is still not the villain of the film whatsoever. At the same time, the character of Inspector K.N. Singh (Adil Hussain) is important for the climax scene of Lootera. However, even if he comes in the way of the romantic reunion of the two protagonists, his role is seen as professional and ethical.
Right from when we are introduced to Zamindar Soumitra Roy Chaudhary (Barun Chanda) and his daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha), the incredible bond and mutual codependency between the two adds poignance to the narrative. Furthermore, the folktale about a king’s soul entering a parrot which is narrated by the Zamindar to his daughter in one of the initial scenes creates a symbolic metaphor for the viewer which they carry with them till the last scene — he refers to Pakhi as his “tota” (parrot) for being his soul and later on, Pakhi starts viewing a tree visible from her window as her parrot and, in her mind, ties her life to its last leaf.
Alongside the father-daughter duo, even Pakhi and Varun’s love story is gradually developed for the viewer to gain an understanding of how the two actually fall in love. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Sinha and Singh share great chemistry in the film.
Lootera fleshes out Pakhi’s character in an extremely authentic and nuanced manner. While we are made aware of her deteriorating physical health, we also know that she is, nonetheless, an upper-class, upper-caste girl from an affluent family.
In one scene, her entitled conduct in front of her driver infuriates us and in another, we empathise with her for the heartbreak she has had to endure. Even after all of this, we know that there is so much more to her than her bright and colourful, yet subtle cotton sarees. She might have been schooled at Shantiniketan, but isn’t culturally elitist in a patronising manner.
It is hard to say whether Lootera has a happy or a sad ending and perhaps, that is exactly what the makers of the film aimed for. Even though a lot of important characters die throughout and the ending too includes one such death, the ultimate message given to the viewer is about how one’s hope can keep them alive.
Bollywood might release films every Friday, but not everything created by it over the past one decade has had the charm and magic of Lootera. After all these years, let’s bring in some hope into our own lives about the power of OTT platforms in giving us more films like this one even if the big screens fail to do so.
A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...
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