★★★★ - STUFF
- Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) would do anything to keep his grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar) happy.
But despite working day and night to get his family out of debt, the Mumbai street photographer knows there's only one thing she really wants – for him to take a bride.
To his rising chagrin, everyone in the local market knows about "Dadi's" wishes and has an opinion. But when the ageing matriarch decides to stop taking her medication until he starts taking action, Rafi decides a little deception is in order.
Sending her a snap of a young woman he persuaded to let him photograph just days earlier, Rafi hopes that will put at least a temporary end to the matter. However, the shot only serves to embolden Dadi, who, to Rafi's shock, shows up in Mumbai to see this beauty for herself.
What follows is a charming and delightful romantic drama, as Rafi frantically searches for the girl in the picture. Played by the luminous Sanya Malhotra, Miloni is an ambitious, but shy accounting student from a middle-class family. Agreeing to play her part in Rafi's ruse, for her own reasons, Miloni quickly wins over Dadi, who then offers Rafi a warning. "Soon she'll be a chartered boat, while you paddle with your oar down."
After an uneven foray into English language movies (The Sense of an Ending, Our Souls at Night), writer-director Ritesh Batra's return to India is an understated crowdpleaser. While perhaps not quite reaching the heights of his 2013 tale The Lunchbox, this is another gentle, poignant story of the bonding of a seemingly unlikely couple.
Batra doesn't shy away from the struggles they'd face even if they wanted to be more than just fake fiances, while also offering up a healthy dose of cynicism about the image of romance depicted in more traditional Indian films. "Movie stories are all the same. Boy falls in love with girl, her parents object," Rafi tells Miloni, as they head to the cinema together.
Kind of a modern day, milder Mumbai version of When Harry Met Sally, Photograph is a beautiful portrait of friendship and breaking free of familial and societal expectations.
In English and Hindi with English subtitles.
- James Croot, STUFF