Movie Review: Lootera (2013)

Lootera-New-Poster14 Stars (out of 4)

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Vikramaditya Motwane made his directorial debut in 2010 with the incredible movie Udaan. His sophomore effort is Lootera (“Robber”), a film that is romantic, tragic, beautiful, and damned near perfect.

The story is set in the early 1950s, not long after Great Britain abdicated its control of India. Local governments are in the process of reclaiming and redistributing the wealth gifted by the British to aristocratic families. The Zamindar of Manikpur is slow to accept that life as he knew it is about to change.

At the same time, a young archeologist named Varun (Ranveer Singh) arrives to excavate an ancient temple on the Zamindar’s estate. The handsome archeologist attracts the attention of the Zamindar’s bright daughter, Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha). Romance blossoms under the restrained social conventions of the time. The two contrive to spend time together under the guise of Varun teaching Pakhi how to paint, even though she knows far more about the art than he does.

Varun’s assistant, Debdas, warns him to end his flirtations before he breaks Pakhi’s heart. They will leave as soon as their project ends, and besides, Varun’s uncle won’t allow him to get married.

Lootera takes its time parsing out information, allowing the audience to fall in love with the characters before hinting at the possible complications. Varun and Pakhi are both young, smart, and attractive. Her father is fond of Varun, not to mention rich. Why would Varun’s uncle object to their relationship?

When the answer is revealed, it sets off a cascade of events that set up a thrilling second half. Amit Tridevi’s score augments the film perfectly, as does the frequent absence of a background score when atmospheric sounds are more appropriate.

Overall, Lootera is a quiet movie. Varun and Pakhi speak in whispers or sit together in silence, drawing the audience into the intimacy of their relationship.

With such a tight focus on the leading couple, the success of the film depends entirely upon the performances of Singh and Sinha. Both actors are more than up to the task. Singh does some excellent work when Varun tries to heed Debdas’ advice and push Pakhi away. He speaks of not wanting to see her anymore, but his face can’t help but give Pakhi — and the audience — a hint that he’s lying.

Pakhi undergoes some major changes of the course of the movie, and Sinha is superb at adapting while keeping the core of the character intact. Even in Pakhi’s darkest moments, some small joy lights up her face in the same smile as the innocent girl introduced at the start of the film. This is undoubtedly Sinha’s finest work to date.

The pacing of the story, the gorgeous cinematography, and the tremendous acting make Lootera a movie that should have universal appeal and stand the test of time. I look forward to revisiting this many times in the years to come — and recommending it to everyone I know.


26 thoughts on “Movie Review: Lootera (2013)

  1. JustMeMike

    Wonderful review Kathy. I thought I would welcome an opportunity to see this one after checking the trailer that you posted earlier. I liked Ranveer’s work in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl – so now, with your positive review, I’ll be sure see this one.


    1. Kathy

      That trailer really captures the mood of the film (and without giving anything away). I hope you get to see it soon, Mike. I think you’ll really like it.

      1. JustMeMike

        Hi Kathy – I got to see Lootera on Erosnow. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it/. I am so glad the you gave it such a strong recommendation AND a spoiler free review.

        I took care to not try to find out what Lootera (the title) meant). Nor did I follow up on the O Henry short story. Meaning I had no idea.

        I’ve posted my review.

        Again, I probably would have never seen this, or should I say I wouldn’t have been so eager to see it, if not for your review.


        1. Kathy

          Mission accomplished! 🙂 So glad you liked the movie, jmm. It remains my favorite of the year so far. On a related note, this movie is probably the best endorsement yet for Eros Now.

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  4. Anirudh

    This is perhaps one movie which doesn’t deserve 4 stars. Though stunning in many respectes, there wasn’t enough to impress this moviegoer. Still, this movie is more arty than farty.

    1. Kathy

      “Still, this movie is more arty than farty.” This cracked me up, Anirudh! I can’t imagine a less enthusiastic recommendation. 🙂

  5. Anushka

    I was so so looking forward to seeing this film!The trailers were gorgeous.
    Thanx to the great reviews ,I will surely watch it. 🙂

  6. Nicky

    Happy independence day Kathy ! 🙂 a tad late I guess . I am not a fan of this genre of movies but given the directors earlier work and now your review, will probably watch the movie this weekend.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks, Nicky! Motwane brings all the elements that were good about Udaan to Lootera. I hope you enjoy it.

  7. A Potpourri of Vestiges

    Great review… one that seems to be in sync with my own thoughts. The biggest compliment that I can give is that there is nothing “Bollywood-like” about it… Lootera seems to carry the stamp of a quintessential art house product from European cinema. Vikramaditya Motwane and team need to be congratulated for their commendable effort!

    Please take some time out to check my blog’s review of Lootera:

    1. Kathy

      Great review! Thanks for the link. Lootera doesn’t need any qualifiers. It’s just a good movie.

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  9. meeradarjiyr1

    4/4 wow thats great. I wasn’t expecting such a high rating. I haven’t seen this yet, but have seen the Trailer and I’m hoping to watch it soon. Great review.

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