I was watching Lootera a few days ago. Based on O. Henry’s The Last Leaf, it’s one of the best love stories ever made in Bollywood. It is flawless and melodious, like a sweet love song where every chord is strung at right note. The only glitch was my father’s undying curiosity. Slouched beside me, he kept asking silly questions every four seconds.
Who is she? Who is he? What is he doing? Is he an architect? Why is he speaking Bengali? Are they going to stare at each other for the whole movie? Why is Kejriwal so pissed off at Modi?
The thing about belonging to a civilized society is that you can’t ask your father to shut the fuck up, and so I patiently heard all his grumblings. Actually, it was his turn to watch debate on News 18 and I had wrongly appropriated the tv remote, so I guess he was just slightly annoyed.
The movie starts with a Bengali Dance performance, and an elegant Pakhi Roy convulsing into an asthma attack. From there, it moves at a gentle pace, like a sweet old melody. My father isn’t exactly fond of sweet old melodies, his definition of music is more inclined towards crass politicians hollering in full rage on national television.
But once Dalhousie comes into the picture, the movie becomes a masterpiece. A heartbroken, forlorn, dying Pakhi lives alone, watching the withering tree outside her window. The tree is nearing its end with each passing day, and Pakhi, suffering from tuberculosis, believes she’ll die the day the last leaf falls from the tree. That’s when the disease of her life, Varun, a swindler who rejected her love and robbed her father, enters the scene. He is running from cops and seeks shelter at her house. Pakhi is furious, but she decides to protect him. She tells him about the last leaf through a letter. Varun still loves her more than anything else, but all he has now is remorse and an impending death. So, to keep her alive, Varun paints a leaf every day, and ties it to the tree so that she finds a reason to live. The head cop finds out about him soon, and tells Pakhi that he’ll kill him the next day. Varun knows it’s the end, as the cops are guarding the place from outside, thus blocking all his channels of escape. He wakes up in the morning, kisses a sleeping Pakhi on the forehead, and goes out with the painted leaf. He ties the last leaf, and goes out, where he’s shot dead by the cops.
Pakhi wakes up in the morning and finds Varun missing. She realizes he’s gone forever. With blank eyes, she looks at the tree, where the last leaf, despite struggling against the blizzard, continues to live. She walks upto the tree and sees the painted leaf. In a flashback, Varun is talking about his dream to paint a masterpiece which everyone would admire one day. This leaf was his masterpiece.
I looked at my father. He was speechless. In that precious moment, my mother entered the room.
“What are you watching? Who is she? Why is she laughing? Is she mad? Why is she dressed in rug? What’s up with the tree? Why the hell is nobody replying? “