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'A story about love', these four words perfectly describe Shoojit Sircar's October. A word of caution here for those looking out for some formulaic Bollywood romance, this film is miles away from that zone. You don't have lovers singing romantic ballads or mouthing lovey-dovey lines to impress each other . Instead, what you get to witness is love in its purest form through Dan (Varun Dhawan)'s simple approach towards life and Shiuli (Banita Sandhu)'s long stoic stares. It slowly pulls you in its world of empathy and hope. In October, Shoojit uses the 'shiuli'/ night jasmine as a metaphor to equate the flower's short life span to that blooming and wilting of their 'unspoken' love.
Dan aka Danish Walia, a 21 year old hotel management intern in Delhi is a clumsy guy who carries a sense of irritability for things around him. His laid-back attitude earns him brickbats more often. But Dan is least bother. On the other hand, there's Shiuli Iyer, his over-achiever junior who does everything picture perfect. The two share a very cordial equation and hardly exchange words.
However things take an unexpected turn when Shuili falls off a building while hanging out with her colleagues at a New Year's Eve party and slips into a comatose state. Minutes before this accident, her last words were 'Where is Dan'? When Dan learns about this, he slowly sheds off his monotonous existence and finds himself getting drawn to her motionless world. Scenes after scenes you find something nuturing between the two. Maybe love or may be not? The emotion though just keeps lingering without any name.
Director Shoojit Sircar makes every frame of October come alive with his nuanced direction giving Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu plenty of moments to shine. Not just a film, October is sheer poetry which takes a leaf straight out of our every day lives. The filmmaker drops subtle hints which catches your eye and makes you feel deeper in the emotion of love. Whenever melancholy seeps in, he makes sure to add a little bit of wry humour to bring a smile on your face.
On the flipside, the biggest let-down is the sluggish pace of the film which regularly tests your patience level. Shoojit takes his own sweet time to detail his characters. He does that deliberately to make us taste the mundaneness and pathos. Many may find it cumbersome to keep up with the slow crawling of the narrative. Dan's sudden attachment to Shuili also leaves several questions unanswered.
Speaking about the performance, you can clearly say that October is Varun Dhawan's career best performance. He sheds off the trademark of a Bollywood macho hero to give you Dan- a character who's adult innocence draws you towards him like a bee. Indeed, Shoojit's unusual casting pays off here as you get to see a never-seen before side of the Dhawan boy who often finds himself on the radar of critics with his over-the-top, loud acts.
Banita Sandhu makes a promising debut. With limited dialogues because of the demand of her character, the actress uses her large, limpid eyes as an effective tool to covey her thoughts and emotions. Gitanjali Rao as Shiuli's mother is superlative.
Juhi Chaturvedi's dialogues are engrossing especially Varun's who brings in a much-needed lightness in the sombre backdrop. Avik Mukhopadhyay's lens beautifully captures the falling leaves, the gloomy evenings, the nip in the air and the fresh 'shiuli' flowers fallen on the dewy grass. Chandrashekhar Prajapati's editing works fine.
Shantanu Moitra's music blends in beautifully and adds more hues to the story. His music drifts through the film lending an emotional connect.
In a nutshell, Varun Dhawan- Banita Sandhu's October is more to be felt than seen. Watching this slow-paced film could be a laborious task for those who are not used to this brand of cinema. 'And the night-blooming flowers open, the whole night exhales a scent that disappears in the wind. And then dawn: the petals close a little crumpled'- October tells the tale of different shade of love that says it all despite leaving behind some unspoken words.