Director: Shoojit Sircar
Starring: Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu
Love is what happens when you are busy making other plans. And, that’s what director Shoojit Sircar unhurriedly builds towards in his poignant tale of love and longing. His Dan (played by an earnest Varun Dhawan) isn’t built on regular Bollywood machoism, nor is his love for Shiuli glorified through innumerable songs and dances. While one cheekily shows concern about varicose veins when cornered by his hotel boss into paying up for his unfounded arrogance and lack of professionalism, his woman is seen quietly taking on life’s challenges unquestioningly. But they never impress us, or each other, because they aren’t meant to.
It’s when one quizzes about the other’s whereabouts unexpectedly that their life suddenly finds new meaning. Their love story, unlike what we’ve seen in Bollywood, is pure, untainted and regular, and begins at a point when they find themselves broken. And therein lies its beauty. Writer Juhi Chaturvedi even manages to inject humour even when destiny plays cruel jokes on them. Avik Mukhopadhayay’s aesthetic frames and Shantanu Moitra’s haunting soundtrack lend depth and passion to this unusual story. But it’s the casting where Shoojit falters a bit. While Varun Dhawan is pleasing and often excels, mostly because of his incredible comic timing, he never succeeds in uplifting Dan into someone truly heroic. And that’s a shame. Even Banita Sandhu’s debut act isn’t anything to write home about, and part of it has to do with the restrictions her character lends her.
It’s the supporting cast who truly excel, with Geetanjali Rao winning us over. She plays Shiuli’s mother with dignity and poise. Even the actors playing Dan’s best friend, his hotel boss and Shiuli’s bestie are impressive.
A tighter cut on the editing desk would’ve enhanced this film because at 115 minutes screen time, the proceedings can get a tad lethargic. Shoojit’s October is unlike anything he has created so far (think Vicky Donor, Piku) and it manages to charm us but the film doesn’t soar like we would’ve wanted to.