Photograph

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for it to come on TV/online (?)

quick review:

Made specifically for people who can enjoy a film for its mood. A plain and mundane one, in this case. Like most days in life. The plainness that started out as charming becomes lifeless by the end.

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Director: Ritesh Batra
Running time: 115 minutes
Genres: Noir, Romance
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I’ve always wondered why films are hardly ever about characters who are not achievers or go-getters, who don’t have extra-ordinary obstacles in their lives, who go about their lives like a regular person. Why are films not about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances? Photograph goes ahead and gives that to me. And I can see why I won’t be able to watch too many more of the same kind, even if I didn’t get bored by the nothingness in this one.

Photograph feels a little too self-conscious, the consciousness eased out by great performers, camerawork, sound, other production, etc.

Of course, the performances make the film. Especially when the lead characters have so little to say and are more or less subdued in their demeanour. You can tell they are smart, thinking people. You can tell they have a heart and are thoughtful. But, their personalities aren’t the expressive kind. To make the audience know these traits without having words to their aide requires an act at a completely different plane. And of course, Nawazzudin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra do much more than we could have imagined, while seemingly doing so little.

These characters along with the still cinematography, the minimal background music and a dull projection of the dream city make Photograph more a ‘mood’ than a ‘movie’. A mood that is so fragile that you might want to protect it should something drastic happen. A mood that has potential to pull you in its wrap for at least the length of the film.

Beyond that, I know not. There is only so much of quiet-nothingness, everyday-purposelessness that I could see in a movie. Of course, it is not about the slow pace or the ending or even the things that happen without much explanation. I have enjoyed films which have had climaxes that made no sense to me. I have also liked films that didn’t bother to explain every single detail. I have absolutely loved some films for the atmosphere they created using lyrical pauses, frames that are immersive because they are still, and so on. But, after a point Photograph tries too hard to create that texture, and that effort shows.

As the second hour of the film begins, it begins to get a little too repetitive and a tad predictable too. For instance, there have been quite a few all-knowing, well-meaning film-grannies who have charmed us with their candidness. This one looks a little too forcibly written.

In general, Photograph feels a little too self-conscious, the consciousness eased out by great performers, camerawork, sound, other production, etc. Each of these departments doing very well on their own account yet not making for a wholesome story that can be heard over and over again. One time, for the mood. Maybe.

- meeta, a part of the audience

31 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 16 so-so 6 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...All-in-all, Ritesh Batra treats us to another delightful film. He had gone westwards after making an promising debut with The Lunchbox (2013). After making two acclaimed films there, The Sense Of Ending and Our Souls At Night, he has sort of made a welcome return home. We hope he's come back to stay...... full review

Thumbs up, by Poulomi Das, FirstPost : ...In the real world, Miloni and Rafi would never get the luxury of a happily-ever-after, which is why witnessing them longing to get away from their isolated existences feels so rewarding.... full review

Thumbs up, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Miloni and Rafiq are basically tortured souls searching for that silver lining that will take them out of the drudgery of their respective pursuits – at least for a brief interlude. Together they exist in that special Ritesh Batra designed bubble which could burst anytime. And probably that’s all their fleeting meetings might amount to. Working well within his niche, Batra designs that impossible romance that suddenly appears to have opened up to fresh possibilities. This is nuanced cinema that opens up your mind to a wider range of content than what mainstream Bollywood has to offer!... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...“This is a country so big it has room for anything,” a character says. “Anything except what it has forgotten,” someone corrects him. More than anything else, this film is poetry. Photograph reminds us to believe in minor magic. Here is a film about a city that makes room for everything, from formulaic films to ghosts. Like when posing for a camera, all we need to know is where to look.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ankur Pathak, Huffington Post : ...It’s a snapshot into a shared moment in time, an improbable and unlikely one. But how can a film be an ode to films without doing what films do best? Most would argue that Rafi and Noorie may never be together is real life. And maybe that isn’t an incorrect assessment. Their love story is so unrealistic, it only belongs in a movie.... full review

Thumbs up, by Johnson Thomas, MiD DAY : ...The narrative is an assemblage of beautiful events shot with breath-taking lucidity — by cinematographers Tim Gillis and Ben Kutchins. Mumbai beckons hauntingly as the two central characters make this seemingly fleeting tryst last a lot longer than what seems possible in real life. Photograph is the emblematic representation of that connection we seek in these disconnected times. It speaks to us, but not as much in words as in the moments that warm our hearts.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Rafi tells his customers that it is the sunlight in the Photographs that they will remember long after their visit to the tourist spot. That is true of this film as well. The languid grace and unswerving geniality inherent in the making stand out. They enhance the radiance of the overall cinematic composition and make Photograph a film that will stay etched in our memories awhile.... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...Regardless of what Photograph achieves in terms of box-office monetary gains, the film, an O’Henrisque story, leaves an idiosyncratic imprint of Mumbai and its quirky tales that we love.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Whether this frustrates or fascinates you depends on how you read Photograph. For a picture is a moment, it doesn't commit, it contains. It has no past nor future, it is timeless. That is the beauty of Batra's delicate little gem. It is what it would like to remember and not what unfolds.... full review

So-So, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Photograph shines due to its depiction of Mumbai as a city with chaos, warmth, generosity, isolation and emotional exhaustion all in the same breath. Ritesh Batra's love affair with the city impresses but the same can't be said about Rafi and Miloni's unusual relationship.... full review

So-So, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...Siddiqui suits the role and gives it his best, though at times, one does feel he is holding himself back from coming into his own. Malhotra is saddled with a role that looks a tad incomplete. As an educated and far more refined and urbane girl she does look like a perfect foil to his commonplace looks and behaviour; it is the unsure graph of her character’s growth in the film that never quite gives her any strength to sink her teeth into. What also looks forced, is the deliberate use of unspoken bonding between characters; be it romance, friendship of just sheer love. Doesn’t it require an irrational reason we may not be able to put a finger on?... full review

So-So, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...If you like romance on slow burn, Photograph might appeal to you. Otherwise, just leaf through your own albums.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Photograph doesn’t come together as beautifully as The Lunchbox did. The screenplay isn’t as sharp or insightful. In places the film is so quiet that it feels inert. I’m not going to lie – I did get impatient. And yet the next morning, I found myself thinking about Rafi and Miloni. There is a tenderness that stays with you. I’m going with three stars.... full review

So-So, by Prahlad Srihari, FirstPost : ...It is still a sincere enough, easily digestible, curl-up-on-the couch film you wouldn't mind watching, come the relentless Mumbai monsoon.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Flimi Beat : ...It is said, 'A picture speak a thousand words.' Sadly in Ritesh Batra's Photograph, they are reduced to just monosyllables.... full review

So-So, by Punarvasu Pendse, fullhyd.com : ...Photograph is a slow-moving (sometimes frustratingly so) work of art, an ode to nostalgia. It is devoid of any fast, flashy sequences. It is also ambiguous and leaves a lot to your imagination. That being said, the amount of finesse that has gone into every aspect of the film makes it a visual experience, one that deserves a chance even from the most hardcore of masala movie fans. Hope is a wonderful thing, and Photograph will linger on your mind far longer than the time you will spend in the cinema.... full review

So-So, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...PHOTOGRAPH by THE LUNCHBOX fame Ritesh Batra is beautiful, charming, it tingles your heart but fails to touch your soul.... full review

So-So, by Lakshana N Palat, india today : ...Photograph, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra attempts to embody themes of longing and nostalgia and leaves you feeling rather wistful at the end, says our movie review. It's not everyone's cup of tea.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Photograph’s childlike innocence will attract you towards it. Sanya Malhotra’s profound performance will find its fans. Watch it if you can digest movies in this zone!... full review

So-So, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...The film doesn't have too many dialogues and I wish Ritesh had worked more on the story. There are no songs in the film, but the background score is bomb. If you don't lose your patience easily, then you will definitely enjoy Photograph... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...An issue with the film is that while it tells a lot.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A street photographer takes a picture of a quiet girl from a well-to-do family. On a whim he sends the photograph to his grandmother who shows up to meet the love of her grandson's life. The film gets really tedious because there's nothing more to this fascination with poverty.... full review

So-So, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...But with Photograph I was also left feeling a sense of void and dissatisfaction, in that it barely scratches the surface of what could have been a far deeper engagement. It chooses to provide just passing snapshots that don’t come together as a memorable album. The situations themselves feel consciously set-up, more deliberate rather than flowing along spontaneously.... full review

So-So, by Kriti Tulsiani, Times Now : ...In the age of selfies and quick uploads, Ritesh Batra's Photograph takes time to develop. Sadly though, only parts of it are worth a thousand words, rest fall rather too silent.... full review

So-So, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...Photograph isn’t a perfect shot and is lured by exquisite nothingness but it’s intriguing and takes you back in time. Like love and life, it’s uncertain and hopeful.... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...To be fair, PHOTOGRAPH can also be described as a film partially based on reality because it perfectly depicts the city of Mumbai and its struggle of life at one end, but remains entirely unconvincing and unreal in its depiction of love and affair on the other, made with an imbalanced kind of vision.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, PHOTOGRAPH is too niche and ambiguous and coupled with the lack of buzz it’s chances of success at the box office are slim.... full review

Thumbs down, by R. M. Vijayakar, India West : ...The music is terribly monotonous, often ill-matched with the situation and mood. Batra scores as the dialogues writer, and, if the idea was to make India’s commercial capital and prime megapolis look singularly unappetizing, scores in camerawork and production design!... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...A tiny cameo by Vijay Raaz illustrates what this film needed more of: a touch of whimsy, a kind of magic. More of this, wrapped in Mohd Rafi’s honeyed voice (yes, that’s why Siddiqui is named Rafi) which wafts over the film, would have made this odd couple romance much more believable.... full review

Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...She dreams of living in a village, working in the fields and sleeping under a tree. She confesses her fantasy to her maid (Geetanjali Kulkarni), who is her one connection with the world that Rafi inhabits.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Nawazuddin Siddiqui, struggling with a poorly etched character and cod dialogue, doesn’t quite manage to make Rafiq credible. Farrukh Jafar, as the token cuddly grandmother whom the movies love, isn’t as charming as Photograph thinks she is. The always wonderful Geetanjali Kulkarni has a cameo as Miloni’s maid who gives her a glimpse into how the other half lives. Sachin Khedekar is somewhere in the movie too, as is Jim Sarbh. The aim is to be understated, but the result is underdeveloped.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: A few muted down curse words.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Boy meets girl
  • General Look and Feel: Drab but real Mumbai

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Direction:
Story:
Lead Actors:
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Screenplay:

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