Achingly heartwarming

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Apr 2018 10:49:57


By Aasawari Shenolikar


Shoojit Sircar is someone who is as intensely passionate about football as he is about narrating stories. His vision, brought alive on the screen by able actors, has traversed across many genres. While Madras Cafe was intense, Piku was simply delightful and Pink powerpacked. His latest offering October with Varun Dhawan and newbie Banita Sandhu tackles hope and love. 

October is an emotional journey about two individuals both working in a five star hotel. Danish aka Dan (Varun Dhawan) is not happy with his vocation and is forever cribbing about work schedules. His friends call him an ‘irritated soul’. Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu), his co-worker and member of the same friend gang is staid and serene. The life of these two diametrically opposite individuals gets entwined over a tragic event that changes Dan’s perception towards life and love. As their relationship evolves, the viewer, through the eyes of these two very talented actors, is taken on a sentimental journey that bring the lumps in the throat as well as the smiles.

October is about unconditional love, love that rises above the mere utterals of ‘I love you’s’ to ‘having coffee sessions together’ or ‘partying’ or ‘whispering sweet nothings’ in your lover’s ears. It’s about being there, no matter what. The protagonists are not your regular girlfriend - boyfriend; not once do they even state ‘till death do us apart’ to each other. Dan is there for Shiuli, in her hour of need because ‘he cannot remain unaffected by what has happened to her.’ October is about hope and life. When the camera constantly flits between the ICU of a hospital and the frenetic activity of the hotel, the shots might seem random in the beginning, but then it dawns that the director is trying to draw parallel between two worlds - one where life is thriving, and people are engrossed in the hospitality industry to make everything comfortable for their guests and the hospital where the doctors and nurses are immersed in saving lives that many a time are hanging by a fragile thread.

Through Avik Mukhopadhyay’s camera, we see Delhi, an integral part of every Shoojit Sircar’s cinema, at its poetic best - the foggy, misty mornings and the detailing that goes into bringing the finer nuances of the city alive. Delhi is a character in October, and Shoojit along with his writer Juhi Chaturvedi, has ensured that everything is bang on target - the barsati which the friends share, the accents, the lingo, and the North Indian spirit of being helpful without any questions being asked. So whether it is Asthana, the manager at Radisson Blu hotel, who is bothered by Dan’s behaviour, but doesn’t shy away from recommending him as a capable guy, to the friends who dole out money to Dan and cover his shifts, Sircar has made sure that he doesn’t err in this aspect.

Sircar’s close knit team also includes Shantanu Moitra who has given the hauntingly beautiful score for October. Without being overpowering, the music gels completely with the story to add immense value to the scenes, lifting each sequence up a notch. And then there are the eloquent silences that speak a lot. Since all the characters are so relatable, you can connect with each one of them and that is why it is so easy to feel the angst that Varun goes through. As his eyes well up, so do yours and your heart reaches out to him as well as the young bedridden girl, who is yet to experience the wonders that life has to offer and whose own life is hanging by a thread.  This is not to say that this is an out and out tearjerker. It is not. Sircar has incorporated many light moments that provide a relief. Dan’s interaction with the Nurse, his conversation with a receptionist when he wants clarity on how good is the neurosurgeon who is treating Shiuli, his goofiness in the hotel - all bring on a smile. Achingly heartwarming are the interactions between Shiuli’s mother and Dan at the fag end of the film, when she narrates why Shiuli has been named so. And this is the time when it becomes clear to the viewer why the film is titled so.

Dhawan is superb as Dan, the diffident twenty year old, who doesn’t mind speaking up even when it is not his business to do so. His interpretation of life is simple - Live and let live. When Shiuli’s uncle wants to pull the plug, (the bills are mounting and for the family whose sole working member is Shiuli’s mom, it’s a demanding time for the Iyer family), Dan mutters - ‘She is only twenty one years old, she doesn’t want to die, so who are we to pull the plug?’ Straight from the heart.

In October, the imminently charming Varun Dhawan is miles away from umpteen torso flashing brash character that he’s played in innumerable films. This talented dude knows how to perfectly balance the varied demands of his profession - Dhawan, who is delightful in the ‘Chalti hai kya nau se barah’ taporiness, is equally and imminently watchable in genres like the revenge seeking husband in Badlapur or the quietly intense friend who enjoys the contentment with the wheelchair ridden girl.

Banita Sandhu is outstanding. In the entire movie, she just has one dialogue ‘Where is Dan?’ Rest of what she feels is conveyed through her expressive eyes. Like her namesake Shiuli (Night Jasmine), Banita, in October spreads her fragrance and leaves us wanting more of her. Gitanjali Rao plays Shiuli’s mother with heartbreaking finesse. There is a lot of restraint and depth in her character. This tale about unconditional love ends on a moving note. In October, you look at death in the eye and come out feeling grateful for all that life has to offer. Sircar’s October tells us that sometimes against all odds, against all logic, we still hope…..

The Hitavada Rating: O O O