Photograph

Written and directed by critically acclaimed Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra best known for 2013’s The Lunchbox, Photograph is a charming and insightful romantic movie that follows the usual patterns of a Hollywood romantic comedy but goes beyond the genre by incorporating subtle messages about Indian society, particularly the color and caste systems. With predominantly Hindi dialogue, the film explores an unexpected relationship between two very different people from separate parts of society in Mumbai, an unusual bond started with a chance encounter at the tourist landmark Gateway of India. Rafi, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, lives in poverty and works as a street photographer taking pictures of tourists in order to repay his family debts back home in his native village. As is the case in most of Indian families, he is constantly urged to settle down and marry an Indian woman. To appease his very insistent grandmother, he eventually decides to pretend that he is in a romantic relationship with a younger shy woman that he took a picture of at the Gateway of India. Over time, he is able to convince the young woman named Miloni, played by Sanya Malhotra, to play along and meet his grandmother who has just arrived from her small village to see this supposed girlfriend of her grandson. Miloni comes from a middle-class background and is currently studying to become an accountant at the insistence of her parents who she still lives with at home. Similar to Rafi, she is a fairly quiet person who is looking for a way out of her rather mundane life. The best part of the movie is the rather funny and persistent performance given by Rafi’s strong-willed yet sweet grandmother who is played by Farrukh Jaffra. Despite the two main characters’ diverging class status and family background, they begin to become fond of one another and spent time alone together outside of trying to convince his grandmother of their potential marriage. Overall, I found it to be a bittersweet romance that, although at times can be slow, is very touching and has a lot to say about the contemporary issues facing Indian society and culture as a whole, all the while relying on beautiful cinematography to capture the essence of Mumbai.

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