By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | April 13, 2018
Rating: 4.5 / 5
The essence: October is not your typical Bollywood film and I’m glad Shoojit Sircar has not stuck to a particular genre but works across storyboards: it’s a film you can watch any month of the year. But first, watch it this April!
October is your ordinary life executed on screen in an extraordinary manner. Right from the first scene, Director Shoojit Sircar along with Cinematographer Aveek Mukhopadhyay, treats you to subtle ‘slice of life’ moments, which joined together along with the excellent star cast provides for a satisfying movie watching experience.
The hotel industry is well carved out on screen and performed brilliantly by the entire cast, from the bell-boy to the front desk to the housekeeping to the laundry to the FNB. Name any aspect and Sircar is spot-on with his portrayal of the industry and the manner of working. Ditto when he moves to the hospital; you can almost feel the pain and angst of the patients, in this case Shiuli Iyer played by Banita Sandhu, and that of her immediate family.
And then there is Varun Dhawan who trapezes through his act with the brilliance of a Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. You just cannot tear your eyes from Varun whenever he is on screen essaying the role of Dan, a young trainee in a five-star hotel along with Shuili, and a bunch of other friends. He is this eccentric guy who everybody stands up for. You cannot hate him; you end up loving him. Yet, there is that something in him that makes you wonder why he would do what he did for Shiuli?
Dan is your typical 20-something lad trying to get his foot into the working world. He hates the duty he is assigned to in the hotel he works in and looks for transfers to other departments, whilst protesting in his own way. When he does not get leave on December 30, for his parents Silver Jubilee, he decides to take off without informing even his friends. When he returns, the scene where he works has changed.
Shiuli, his workmate, falls off the terrace, whilst trying to sit on the ledge during a New Year’s party with her colleagues. Dan is shocked, like any guy his age, but when he learns that the last words she spoke before falling off was, “Where is Dan?” his whole outlook towards the incident changes. He bunks work to spend nights at the hospital, being a huge support to Shiuli’s mother and siblings. He almost takes it upon himself to ensure that she is nursed back to health, after she comes out of her coma. But does he succeed?
October is a tale of relationship, even when there is none. Dan just cares; that’s all. Sircar shows the frailty of life and friends without making a comment on any, as life continues even with Shiuli in the ICU.
What is exciting is the manner in which Varun has picked up every move of his body and dialogue delivery! He is pitch-perfect, without even once faltering trying to keep Dan in check.
Banita Sandhu, even though she spends most part of her role comatose and on the wheel chair, leaves a lasting impression, expressing with her eyes. Gitanjali Rao who plays her mother is terrific, with her face being the playground where every emotion is displayed. The girl who plays Shiuli’s sister and her brother, too, perform to a nicety. Watching a family in grief, surrounding their loved one by the hospital bed, is performed to the ‘T’. If you have witnessed a family like this, you will know what I am talking about.
The background score matches the mood while the set design, be it in the hotel, hospital, ICU, or even the rooms shared by the friends… is perfect.
The last time a movie on life and death and hospitals and caring for loved ones was really essayed this well was the Nasseruddin Shah-Kalki Koechlin starrer Waiting directed by Anu Menon.
October is not your typical Bollywood film and I’m glad Shoojit Sircar has not stuck to a particular genre but works across storyboards (Vicky Donor, Madras Café, Piku): it’s a film you can watch any month of the year. But first, watch it this April!
Producer: Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Star Cast: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu, Gitanjali Rao