Tag Archives: Photograph

Photograph is a Less-is-More Minimalist Tale

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.

Exclusive Interview With Director of Photograph

An interview with Ritesh Batra, the writer and director of Photograph, where he kindly assures Geetika Pathania Jain three times that she is not being too fanciful, and discusses the characters and their motivations:

Geetika Pathania Jain: Thank you for this exclusive interview with India Currents. Excited about your upcoming film Photograph. I had the honor and the pleasure of reviewing The Lunchbox and I was struck by some of the authorial signatures that I’m starting to see in your films. Certainly Mumbai appears to be your muse (or maybe it’s Bombay) with its colonial architecture and its chawls and teeming poverty. Any comments on why Mumbai inspires you so much?

Ritesh Batra: I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it myself. I do love the city. I grew up there. I was there till I was eighteen. I really loved how it used to be. And that kind of finds its way when I’m writing something. And especially with this movie, I wanted to get back to my own writing, to get back to directing my own writing. Yeah, so it also has a lot of nostalgia in it, just like The Lunchbox did, so I really come to it from a place of nostalgia.

You know when it used to be Bombay, when I was growing up, someone in the twenties now —  I’m in my late 30s — but someone in their twenties now would be able to make a movie about Mumbai now, but my movies are more about people who are going through the city with a certain degree of nostalgia, which sometimes blends in and sometimes stands out from what their journey is, but it had a big impact on who they are.

GPJ: I see a more positive view of the city in this film (compared to The Lunchbox). I’m not sure if you agree with me that even though we do have Tiwariji who has been crushed by the city, but can I recall Mr. Fernandez (Irrfan Khan of The Lunchbox) and how these individuals who have been crushed by the city but yet they seem to endure and find ways to carry on. A message of alienation in this film or am I reading too much into it?

Got ten minutes? Here is the complete interview with Ritesh Batra:


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.

Geetika Pathania Jain, Ph.D. is Culture and Media Editor at India Currents.