4/5 star as per times of India.
Dan (Varun Dhawan), a student of hotel management is an intern at a top hotel in Delhi along with his batch mates. An incident occurs at the hotel where one of his colleagues Shiuli (Banita Sandhu), lands up at the hospital.
This affects Dan far deeper than he ever imagined, and thereon, he embarks on an emotional journey where he seeks answers and love in the strangest of circumstances
Shoojit Sircar’s ‘October’ says a lot, without saying too much. Yes, it is a film about love, seen from Dan’s pure and simple world-view and Shuli’s silent, stoic stares. It’s not a story crafted with heavy doses of dialogues, romantic ballads or bombastic episodes common to the genre. The beauty lies in the simplicity of it all.
Dan is a 21-year-old who still has a lot of growing up to do; he’s clumsy and careless at work, a tad cocky too, but not with an air of arrogance. He doesn’t speak volumes, but he’s blunt and straightforward. Dan expresses himself with a rare innocence that makes him lovable. As colleagues, Shiuli and he share nothing more than a few glances and some casual conversation.
After the untoward episode, as she lies in bed, Dan is drawn to her agonizing and motionless world. And something flows and flourishes between them. Something called love, maybe?
Shoojit Sircar breathes life into every scene with his nuanced direction. The film unfolds at a leisurely pace but never lacks spirit. He gives you a glimpse into the lives of his characters and artfully takes you into his fold.
At times, you forget that you are watching a movie; instead, you become a spectator to the lives of real people, with real, uncorrupted emotions. The scene at the hospital between Dan and Shiuli, where they acknowledge their relationship in their own indescribable way, is skilfully written and enacted.
It throbs with emotion and makes you break into a smile. The film is not devoid of light humor, it is slipped into the narrative so seamlessly that it will leave you surprised. The lyrical screenplay, story, and dialogues by Juhi Chaturvedi excel in every scene, never losing sight of what the film sets out to achieve.
Every emotion in this song-less film is not spelled out; the most overwhelming scenes are laced with lightweight dialogues and silences that leave space for interpretation. Avik Mukhopadhyay (cinematography) sets the frames with poetic beauty and a charm that is inescapable. The background score by Shantanu Moitra softly blends in, adding mood to the drama.
Varun Dhawan drops the Bollywood hero’s garb in the most understated and finest performance of his career. Shoojit brilliantly molds Varun into Dan, making you forget that you ever saw him grooving shirtless on screen before. Debutante Banita uses her beautiful eyes to express emotions or lack of it. It’s an arduous task, as that’s the only ammo she has at hand. Gitanjali as Shiuli’s mother is a class act.
‘October’ is not bound by Indian sensibility alone; it is a humane story that will possibly enjoy a much wider appeal across international audiences. It is evident that the director wanted this story about love to find its own life cycle of blossom. But for an audience seeking entertainment, given the languid pace of the story, it might seem boring.
In love and relationships, a lot remains unsaid and undefined. What can’t find it’s way into words, will find a way to flow out. Let it. The fragrant memory of Shiuli (the Bengali name for Night Jasmine) and Dan’s unconditional story will linger long after. Go, take it all in.