Picture perfect with a matrimonial farce

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Venkat Raman

Marriage is serious business- that would be the experience of millions of people around the world, but for some, marriage should be made to work every which way.

‘Photograph,’ that was shown at the New Zealand International Film Festival last fortnight has been described as “Indian coming-of-age romantic drama film.”

How odd! There is an old saying in Tamil which ‘permits marriage over a thousand lies.’

There have been many films underscoring the theme of ‘deception,’ all for a good cause- if you believe that marriage is one such.

Critical Acclaim

‘Photograph’ is a 2019 film, written, co-produced and directed by Ritesh Batra, who gave us ‘The Lunchbox’ a 2013 epistolary film that was critically acclaimed all over the world.

In ‘Photograph,’ Batra takes his lens back to the streets of Mumbai, with delightful romance that doubles as a sensuous love letter to the bustling metropolis.

The Plot

The plot revolves around a struggling street photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), based in Mumbai, who works day and night to pay off an old family debt.

His grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar) wishes to see him married and constantly pressures him to find a suitable match. He convinces his grandmother by showing her a picture of a shy stranger, Miloni (Sanya Malhotra).

When Rafi’s grandmother further prods to introduce her to his fiancé, he tracks down Miloni, a student belonging to a middle-class family.

Rafi convinces her to fake their relationship, to which Miloni readily agrees.

Despite the difference in their culture, status and economic background, the two form a unique bond.

The film is a love letter to Mumbai, bringing the city out as a character sheltering the two protagonists and their extraordinary journey.

Here are some reviews:

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times: The film, which deftly touches upon such big-picture themes as class, religion, tradition, family and happiness, features a wealth of delicately captivating moments and observations… Miloni’s sensitive relationship with her family’s humble maid, Rafi’s interplay with his buoyant friends and roommates (as well as their kindness and respect toward Dadi) and Rafi’s heartfelt pursuit of the defunct brand of cola Miloni loved as a child…

Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter: Nawazuddin Siddiqui is subtle yet dynamic as Rafi. Throughout, his eyes reveal the intense feelings he’s sorting through the longing for Miloni, the love for his grandmother and his sense of how limited his own future might be. Siddiqui, who played the trainee who ingratiates himself with Irrfan Khan’s character in The Lunchbox, is a major screen presence.

‘Photograph’ had its World Premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and the European Premiere at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. It was scheduled to release in India on March 8, 2019, but the date was pushed back and it released on March 15, 2019, to generally positive reviews from critics.

It is scheduled for release in several countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, France and Australia later in summer


India/Germany/USA 2019

Director/Screenplay: Ritesh Batra; Producers: Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani, Ritesh Batra, Michael Weber, Viola Fügen, Michel Merkt; Photography: Ben Kutchins, Timothy Gillis; Editor: John F Lyons; Music: Peter Raeburn; With: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar; Festivals: Sundance, Berlin 2019; New Zealand International, Auckland, July 2019; In Hindi, Gujarati and English, with English subtitles; 108 minutes/M cert


Photo Caption:

  1. Let’s make grandma happy: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra
  2. Bride of convenience: Sanya Malhotra

(Pictures from New Zealand International Film Festival Website)


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