- Directed and written by: Ritesh Batra
- Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra and Farrukh Jaffar
- Classification: PG; 110 minutes
After making two English-language features (including Our Souls at Night with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda), the writer-director Ritesh Batra makes a tender-hearted return to India. The Mumbai-set Photograph is a gentle romance cleverly told, and not without humour.
Rafi (played by Bollywood star Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a stoic tourist-trap photographer whose bachelorhood is of great concern to friends, relatives and random cab drivers. The word literally on the street is that Rafi’s grandmother has vowed to stop taking her medicine until he finds a wife. When she comes to visit him, he comes up with a fake girlfriend (Miloni, a shy stranger) to keep the old woman at bay.
It’s a premise as old as Green Card star Gérard Depardieu’s underwear, but this pretend-relationship story shoots for poignant sadness rather than cheap rom-com zaniness. Working-class Rafi is joyless; middle-class accounting student Miloni longs for a villager’s slow-lane life. Will they stop living for other people? Will their love blossom? The graceful filmmaker Batra is in no rush to gives us clear clues. Like Polaroids and introverted people, Photograph takes its time developing.
Photograph opens on May 31 in Toronto and Vancouver; June 14, Montreal.
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