Direction: Shoojit Sircar
Production: Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar
Cast: Banita Sandhu, Gitanjali Rao, Varun Dhawan
Story & Screenplay: Juhi Chaturvedi
Cinematography: Avik Mukhopadhyay
Editing: Chandrashekhar Prajapati
Music: Shantanu Moitra
Hindi / Drama, Romance / 115 Mins / India / 2018
Rating: Let’s go beyond stars and numbers
When friends rally around but move on because its more practical – remember October
When relatives in your hour of crisis stay back only to pass on negativity – remember October
When pain is part of your daily routine but you fight for the ‘old normal’ – remember October
When savings deplete but you believe money will pull you through – remember October
When death looms large but life hangs onto hope – remember October
When seasons change and life goes on but you remain in the moment – remember October.
For October is not a film you should watch as a film. It is a slice of life and rather close to the bone. It is not one that you will forget in a hurry. It is not a film to be clinically analyzed and put back on the shelf. If you have experienced loss and are brave enough to face up to it again this will serve to remind you what exactly you went through. If despite everything you win but still live with a sense of loss this is your moment of truth. October takes you on a journey of intense pain and teaches you how to live through it. It shows you the world as it is, without passing a judgment.
And Shoojit Sircar your maker of sensitive cinema is back; with Juhi Chaturvedi his favourite writer and storyteller in tow. So if you loved Yahaan, Vicky Donor and Piku chances are you will adore this one too. Yet, it is not a film for the faint hearted or lovers of only entertainment – as our film buffs love to time and again remind us. October goes beyond the game of box-office and is still brave enough to be counted as a film worthy of consideration. It may just be a marker of how rapidly and interestingly Hindi cinema has been evolving since the last decade plus.
Sircar makes no concession for niceties and does not play down graphic scenes of blood, injuries and sutures. He looks up an injured girl Shiuoli Iyer (who has accidentally fallen off a terrace and played by British Indian model Banita Sandhu) in the eye and does not flinch, and does not dress her up for audiences who may go queasy in the stomach. And he finds for her a friend in Dan (Varun Dhawan in a very subdued, understated performance). And no, they are not in a relationship. They are not even friends – only colleagues, sharing drudgery in a hotel. But when she topples over the ledge at a party –
Dan, the bored, mischievous, ill attentive intern who loved playing pranks to pass his time at the hotel finds himself tending to her and her small little needs in the ICU.
Bringing over harshringar flowers for her because he remembers her picking them off the hospital floor one day; visiting her because a colleague mentions she asked about him at the party just before her fall; borrowing money from friends for her; comforting her even though she is in coma; hesitantly voicing his opinion of why the family should not consider taking her off the ventilator; giving hope to the family when a relative bemoans the amount of money being spent on her treatment. In short, he finds reason to be with her for no reason at all.
Varun Dhawan who, for many will turn out to be a surprise package (you know his track record) is at his vulnerable best as an irresponsible youngster who grows up and turns out to be a pillar for the family, even though no asked him to - because that is the way life just turned out for him. That is the strength of October. No character is out of place, not the working mother (Gitanjali Rao as a troubled mother who only wants her child to recover); her younger children – both of whom want their akka to be with them once more. But October belongs to Dhawan who lifts the film several notches higher, with his quiet self – understanding his unwell friend a bit more each day. It is for this bond alone that October becomes a must watch.