The most striking feature about Photograph is its determined eagerness to not impress. Unencumbered by the need to answer questions about the motivations of its characters, it focuses more on the fluid chemistry that they generate.
Mumbai as we know it with all its hustle and madness seems to stand still for Rafi to be able to take a picture at the Gateway of India.
One day, he clicks Miloni. It’s a chance meeting. “The picture will be the same when you revisit it years later even when everything else changes,” he tells her. This is the first of their many meetings.
It’s interesting to see how the camera minutely focuses on Rafi and Miloni and zooms out the world.
Everyone else is quite deliberately out of focus. Sanya Malhotra’s Miloni is an excessively obsequious daughter to her parents. She is a quiet girl with an air of disquiet around her.
Nawazuddin’s Rafi is a well-meaning street photographer.
She comes from a well-to-do Gujarati family. A topper.
He lives in a small shack that he shares with others while his daadi (grandmother) is persistent with her demands to get him married. How do these distinctly different people get along? More importantly – why do they?
Writer, director Ritesh Batra allows us to savour the poetic frames he creates without an attempt to answer these queries. If seeking answers and closures is your thing, then Photograph could even be a frustratingly slow watch!
He shows us how similar they are even if from different religious and class lines.
Miloni longs to taste the Campa Cola that her grandfather would get for her as a kid. Rafi eats kulfi at the end of the month as a silent homage to his father. There is a sepia-toned vintage charm in their unsaid bond.
Miloni using a land phone to speak to Rafi in the smart phone obsessed world seems like a freeze-frame moment!
Photograph is a mood. A languid, lingering , lilting melody that accompanies most of the scenes. The high notes are brought on beautifully by Farrukh Jaffar, the hilariously honest and always ready with a smart retort daadi.
Nawazuddin as usual does so much without “doing” much and Sanya Malhotra is terrific as the recluse Miloni. Geetanjali Kulkarni steals the show even in the couple of scenes she has.
But it also speaks a language that not many might take to easily.
In the conventional sense, nothing much is ‘happening’.
It’s a sparse plot that for some might start feeling too long and too much without the requisite emotional play off.
But in its own way it speaks to those who understand this language of endless possibilities. Did the lovers stay together by a glorious stroke of serendipity?
What happens next? Soak it in and let it speak to you in its own unique way. 3.5 quints out of 5.
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