Saw Ritesh Batra’s Photograph and loved it! Although it is indeed slow as molasses and if you thought his Lunch Box (which I loved) was too slow for your taste then perhaps best to not bother with this one. But I loved its lyrical, less-is-more minimalist take… felt like I was watching a master painter create something gorgeous. And I was jet-lagged, yet didn’t bat a wink so that’s some tribute.
Batra has this beautiful way of inserting a hint of redemption at the end of his films but he wants his audience to work to find it… as in… if Suraj Barjatya films on the scale of “happy endings in your face” were a 100, these are a -7… so there is that to contend with.
He also always has a dialog, which stays with you for days and days in how achingly beautiful it is and makes you cherish the beauty of life and the human condition. In Lunch Box (spoiler!) it is when Nawazuddin claims, “Ammi kehti thee…” (My mother used to say…) and Irrfan asks him how he could claim that when he is an orphan; to which Nawazuddin responds (something to the effect), “Arre Sir… of course I am an orphan and have no recollection of my mom… but it feels good to say this as if it were true”. You gasp and find tears in your eyes before you’ve even absorbed the full import of the sentence.
Ritesh’s characters are amazing to me — they know they are capable of rich (inner) lives and love, but circumstances, social entanglements and just sheer demands of survival keep them from dreaming… that is until….
And I won’t give away the haunting sentence from “Photograph” but you’ll know it when you hear it. Hope you find in this film what I did!
PHOTOGRAPH (2019). Director: Ritesh Batra. Screenplay: Ritesh Batra, Emeara Kamble. Players: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Jim Sarbh, Vijay Raaz. Hindi with English sub-titles. Amazon Studios.
Reena Kapoor graduated with a B.Tech in Engineering from IIT Delhi followed by an MS from Northwestern University, USA. Reena lives and works in Silicon Valley, and has been a founding donor, and a Citizen Historian collecting stories for The 1947 Partition Archive since 2011.
Got ten minutes? On May 15, we published an interview with the director of Photograph, Ritesh Batra.