Director: Shoojit Sircar
2017 was characterized as the breakthrough year in Hindi cinema when experimental and low-budget films with content made it big and instead of a Khan or Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao became the actor of the year. However, one youngster who kept the hopes of masala potboilers alive was Varun Dhawan. Touted as the most commercially successful actor of the younger lot, the actor is known for his boyish charms and an acting style inspired by the likes of Salman Khan and Govinda. So when Shoojit Sircar decided to cast him in his ‘not so glamourous’ October, eyebrows were raised, but Varun’s portrayal of a naïve and innocent Dan puts all doubts to rest.
Sircar’s latest offering is heartwarming, soothing to the eyes and as poetic as it could get while remaining close to real life. The story is that of a Hotel Management student Dan who isn’t very fond of the roles given to him in a 5-star hotel, where he’s working as a trainee. Then, there’s his course mate Shiuli, who Dan doesn’t like much because she shines at every task that he fails. How a fateful accident brings them closer and changes him as a person, is the story of October.
Once again it’s the story and the flow of the narrative that wins your heart. There are long pauses and silences with shots of corridors, or ground, with no activity, and in this stillness, you find the rhythm of the story. The film relies heavily on this silent rhythm, giving you enough time to think and contemplate the pain, suffering and understanding of each and every character present on-screen. Sircar once again proves his mastery in making the simplest of incidents and situations seem remarkable and his eye for details, be it a setup or a counter-reaction, is commendable.
In an interview, he had said that he never thought of Varun during the development of the character of Dan and after watching the film you would know what made him make this unusual choice. The innocence and boyish charm of Varun have been put to good use in the film. October is clearly Varun’s biggest risk so far, and he justifies his move beautifully. The way he gets attached to Shiuli and evolves throughout the film is satisfying to look at. You as an audience feel proud of all his decisions. Varun’s conviction makes you feel for Dan, even though he isn’t ‘that perfect character’.
The film isn’t perfect. It has its flaws but so does life. Another thing that catches your breath in the movie is the cinematography. The way Aveek Mukhopadhyay makes you experience Delhi, Manali and even the basement of a hotel is brilliant.
Calling October a simple slice of life drama wouldn’t do it justice. It’s a poem with its own pace, rhythm and a beautiful story of human bonding that’ll make you believe in selfless romance. Varun sets the bar high for himself as he proves his worth as an actor and not just a mass entertainer. Bandita Sandhu as Shiuli fits the role and the entire supporting cast just keeps the story fresh and intact.
October is one story that will remain in your heart even after you leave the theater. Oh, and if you are wondering why the film has the name of a month as a title, Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar provide a beautiful answer to that too.
A poetic journey that’ll warm your heart and might even want you to fall in love with the name Shiuli.