Rising Sun Films’ “October”

Produced by: Ronnie Lahiri & Sheel Kumar

Directed by: Shoojit Sorcar

Written by: Juhi Chaturvedi

Music: Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy & Abhishek Arora

Starring: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu, Gitanjali Rao, Ashish Ghosh, Sahil Vedoliyaa, Prateek Kapur & others

MUMBAI— Danish Walia (Varun Dhawan) is a trainee in a Delhi five-star. His colleagues included Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu), who is his junior, Manjeet (Sahil Vedoliyaa) and another girl (good actress, missed her name). Their immediate boss (Prateek Kapur) is rather fond of Dan, as Danish is called, despite the latter’s immature idiosyncrasies, over-smart nature, and general bratty tendencies.

On New Year’s Eve, at an employee’s celebration, Shiuli happens to fall from a 30 feet terrace and goes into coma. Dan is absent when it happens, and when Manjeet casually tells him that she was asking “Where is Dan?” just before she fell, it makes Dan feel that he was special to her. He starts visiting her more and more, to the extent of neglecting his work as a trainee.

Shiuli’s mother (Gitanjali Rao) and siblings (both talented artists, missed their names as well) find him a great pillar of support. Finally, Dan helps in the partial cure of Shiuli. He has been fired from his job but does not neglect the girl, who also responds to him. What happens next?

It is the answer to this question that sinks “October” into a quagmire from which it cannot escape. The worst things about such movies is that we can never term them bad in the sense of the crappy mainstream and pretentious cinema we get in hordes, as they have warm lines spoken and good human beings shown, each with their special minor foibles and strengths. The gradual development of a friendship between Dan and the ward nurse and his relation with Manjeet, the other girl, and his boss are superbly depicted. So is the family bonding between Shiuli and her family members, heightened by the cynical uncle’s callousness. And of course, Dan’s possibly one-sided romance is a poetic form of love.

However, a viewer who goes to watch a Shoojit Sircar film post- “Vicky Donor” and “Piku” needs to be engrossed along with the substance. Sircar himself is known to weirdly good alternate films and disappointing ones (“Yahaan” followed by “Vicky Donor” followed by the arty “Madras Café” followed by “Piku” – and we do not count “Pink” which he only co-produced and co-wrote) and lives up to this reputation.

“October” (even the title has almost a poetic explanation that provides for the climax) is decidedly an arthouse film, and value-for-money entertainment (of the substantial variety) is missing. Even the brightness in the dialogues (Dhawan’s lines especially) cannot compensate for the super-sluggish pace and the needlessly pointless end.

Indian cinema, I have always maintained, is less about an evolved art form and more about a family pastime, which can range from “Bahubali” to a “Hichki,” but something like this is a decided no-no. Juhi Chaturvedi scores in the dialogues but messes up the screenplay to something that drags, without any sensible aim. Sircar’s direction lacks the finesse of his two good films, and the cuts and fades are too quick and abrupt from beginning to end.

The technical side is trendily (for such films) dark and even gloomy, and the film uses no songs (except in the end-credits). But the background score is a disaster with monotonous riffs and pieces, one of the frequently-repeated ones sounding like a twisted rework of “Doe A Deer A Female Deer” from “The Sound Of Music.”

Varun Dhawan has made a gutsy choice by signing this film and straddles it like a pro, cementing the happenings and characters together. It is a performance of immense sobriety and maturity from someone who has been around only for less than six years. What and how he speaks is what makes the biggest impact. At the same time, we wonder why he has been given third billing in the credits after both debutant Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao as Mrs. Iyer, who plays Shiuli’s mother!

Banita Sandhu’s make-up artist needs an award, but she herself hardly has anything to do. However, she impresses in the latter parts of the film. Gitanjali Rao is generally excellent, as are the other young actors we mentioned. But Prateek Kapur as the boss stands out even among them with his natural and effortless turn.

Watch this film only if you want to see GenY’s most popular hero dazzle differently. Otherwise, stay away from what is decidedly like a boring arthouse movie, despite its few good points.

Rating: **

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