The Hindi Film Industry is known to churn out love stories regularly. Even the films which belong to a different genre, such as romance or comedy, have an element of romance in them. Without romance, it also becomes a little difficult to incorporate songs, which are an integral part of Hindi cinema, in films. Right from his debut film 'Yahaan' (2005), director Shoojit Sircar made it clear that he was not interested in telling run-of-the-mill stories. From the promotional material one has come across, it seems his new film 'October' seems to be a romantic drama with a difference.
Danish Walia aka Dan (Varun Dhawan) is a good-natured but arrogant hotel management intern who does not like doing the work assigned to him by his superior Asthana (Prateek Kapoor). He is negligent with his work and ends up messing with the guests and his colleagues on trivial issues. Despite repeated warnings, he does not mend his ways. Shiuli (Banita Sandhu), another intern, is everything Dan is not - hardworking, sincere and focussed. One night, while the interns are having a party on the third floor of the hotel, Shiuli slips from the parapet and falls down on the ground floor. She is immediately taken to the hostel and the doctor declares that she has slipped into a coma. Dan, who was not present at the party that night, is upset when he hears about the incident. He gets very curious when his friend Ishani (Isha Chaturvedi) inform him casually that before the accident, Shiuli asked about him.
'October' has a very unique concept but it is a treatment-heavy film and not the kind that relies heavily on a solid story. The film stands at one hour and fifty-six minutes and in those hundred and sixty minutes, you get to see several heart-warming moments. Juhi has proved her mettle as a writer with her work on films like 'Vicky Donor', 'Madras Caf?' and 'Piku'. In this film, she weaves in some memorable moments around a simple story. Like her earlier films, she etches out most of the characters very well and gives the actors, playing those characters, a chance to shine. The scene in which Dan comes to the rescue of Shiuli and Isha are stranded on a road with a conked up car tells us that despite being arrogant and having some unflattering qualities, Dan is a good person at heart. There is another scene in which Dan comes back home to realise he has caused interruption to an intimate moment between his housemates and friend who happen to be a couple. All these scenes have play out in a subtle manner and yet, they help us understand the characters and the equation they share with each other well.
As stated earlier, 'October' is a film that rests on a wafer-thin plot and relies heavily on the treatment by the director. Shoojit does a good job as a writer and there are some really good moments in the film. But, all these elements come together to make a good film and not an excellent one. The screenplay needed to have a little more meat and some more great moments could have taken the film several notches higher. The background score by Shantanu Moitra is minimal and very impactful. There are no songs in the film but the best track on the album "Manwaa" does play in the closing credits.
Varun Dhawan is outstanding as Dan. He brings out the character's idiosyncrasies and his sensitivity equally well. Banita Sandhu makes a very promising debut. She is very good in the initial scenes; in the most parts she is required to emote through her eyes and she does that very well too. Gitanjali Rao is terrific as Shiuli's mother. Sahil Vadoliya and Isha Chaturvedi leave a mark as Manjeet and Ishani, Dan and Shiuli's friends.
'October' is a unique film (as far as Bollywood standards go) and is bound to attract polarising opinions about it. As far as I am concerned, a lot of what Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi were trying to convey through this film did reach out to me. Watch it for Varun's sincere performance and some poignant moments.