'Saalon baad yeh photo dekhegi madam...Toh apko aapke chehre pe yahi dhoop dikhayi degi....Aapke balon meinyeh hawa....Apke kanon mein hazaron logon ki awazein......Hamesh ke liye sab chale jayega," says Rafiq (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) to Miloni (Sanya Malhotra).
The man with a camera around his neck clicks polaroids at Gateaway Of India for a living. The girl on the other hand, is a chartered accountant aspirant. 'Click' goes the camera but she disappears without paying up and leaving him with a copy.
The frivolous encounter between these strangers soon give us a closer sneak-peek into their lives. While Rafiq shares his small shanty with other migrant workers, Miloni on the other hand, is a girl of few words with internal conflict brewing within her.
When Rafiq's grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar) pesters him to find a bride for himself, he passes off Miloni's photo as Noorie, his love interest. Rafiq manages to convince Miloni to play along. Over Rafi's 'Tumne Mujhe Dekha', a walk in the rain and some chai-bhajiya, the duo slowly begin to rise above their melancholic lives and get drawn towards each other.
It all begins with a 'photograph' in Ritesh Batra's latest outing. The filmmaker brings together two characters from diverse worlds to simmer a love story where silence speak volumes. While open confessions of love have no place in Batra's narrative, he makes up for it with Hindi film music. The director gives you moments where you can soak in the emotions which they carry.
Sadly, Ritesh's minimalist approach ends up scratching just the surface as you fail to decipher the inner feelings of Rafiq and Miloni. The plot feels stretched at times and tests your patience if romance on slow burn isn't your thing.
Speaking about the performances, Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays his role to perfection. However, Batra refrains from giving his character multiple dimensions which could have given him an opportunity to explore deep. Sanya Malhotra underplays Maloni with conviction. However, a little more detailing in her character would have created a bigger impact.
Farrukh Jaffar as Rafiq's grandmother is a firecracker and is the beating heart of the film. Jim Sarbh as Miloni's tuition teacher looks a tad miscast.
Tim Gillis and Ben Kutchins' lens beautifully captures the two contrasting landscapes of the city. John F. Lyons's editing is abrupt at places. The background score gels well with the film.
It is said, 'A picture speak a thousand words.' Sadly in Ritesh Batra's Photograph, they are reduced to just monosyllables. I am going with 2.5 stars.