Lother, Vikramaditya Motwane’s melancholic film, is a film about artists. There is Paki Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha), who wants to become a writer one day. There is Varun Srivastava (Ranveer Singh) who wants to write a masterpiece one day. Only then should the film use the hands – the most important parts for the writer and the artist – to tell the hauntingly beautiful story of its artists. With her subtle hand shots, you can almost tell Lootera. Director Vikramaditya Motwane and cinematographer Mahendra Shetty made it a point to shoot the film by hand. The faces are cut off and the hands play the roles of the characters.
One of the first scenes in the film where hands play a role is when Parkhi deliberately pours hot tea over Varun’s hands while making fun of his driving skills.
Moments later, a creamy shot of Varun’s scalded hand is applied.
Varun wanted to be an artist one day. He builds an empty canvas in anticipation of the masterpiece he wants to create. He is no Raja Ravi Varma, but his desire to be one keeps him alive.
The sparks are flying between Varun and Paki. To spend time together, she asks him to teach her how to paint.
Class is in session. Pakhi wants to learn to do portraits and Varun wants to start doing landscapes. She already knows the landscapes and shows him that she has mastered them.
Varun is amazed at his artistic skills. She says she doesn’t know how to make leaves and asks if he will teach her. He draws a few, but she’s not impressed. She found out that he knew nothing about painting.
Their roles are reversed. Pahi becomes the teacher, Varun becomes the student. Ab class chalte rehne ke liye kisi ko toh sikhana hoga aur kisi ko seekhna. There are better pictures of Pakhi using his hands to guide Varun in his drawing. The finesse of his movements is magnificent.
As classes continue, the romance between the two begins to blossom. Pakhi enters Varun’s room. She can feel her coats through her hands.
She can smell her cigarettes through her hands. Touching his stuff is like touching love itself.
The painting is starting to come to life and is almost finished. They feel more comfortable with each other.
After spending the day together, Paha had an asthma attack on the way home. Varun gives him a drug. Her hands continue to comfort her as she lies in his arms. He feels uncomfortable at first, but then he brings her closer. There’s something warm about his touch.
Varun brought her home. There’s another shot in his arm as his arm falls out of his hand and his father takes him to his room.
Things slowly start to deteriorate in their relationship as it is time for Varun to leave. The frail Paki goes to his room and they spend the night together. Their hands kiss each other before they kiss each other on the lips.
The night before his great betrayal, Varun was deeply lost for holding his effigy.
Ignoring Varun’s jokes, Pahi prepared for the engagement. There are more photos of hands showing her getting dressed.
The truth has finally come out. Varun disappears. Zamindar Babu is dead. He died not because he had not stolen the liyah, but because Varun did not deka dil toda ta, nor doha diyah ta.
Pakhi settles in Dalhousie, hoping that Varun will pass through the town, as he once told him. She goes because she wants to know if Varun loved her. She tries to write, but she can’t concentrate.
She wants to forget Varun, but her memories won’t let her. His pain is at odds with his love. She’s always thinking about how she can spend time with him. As Thomas Hardy wrote in Far from the Madding Crowd: Memories are not so much a hope as a disease.
She has tuberculosis. She’s bleeding from coughing. She’s bleeding for her betrayal.
Varun returns to Paki’s life. Words are also making a comeback in Pakistani life. She writes him a letter, unable to justify her own decision to let him go. Sab kuch peeche chhod kar aayi thi, sab bhool jaane. Pata nahi kyun tum waapas aagaye, pata nahi kyun maine aane diya.
Varun read his letter. Bil Raja’s life depended on his parrot. Zamindar Babu’s life depends on his daughter. Pahi’s life is in the last leaf of the tree there. The day she wilts completely, her life ends, she writes to him.
He seeks support from her and tries to make up for his past betrayal. Reaching out and taking it is the beginning of a new journey.
He’s starting to take an interest in her. He treats the wounds he inflicted on her to restore her to health.
Pahi comes and returns his concern. She begins to recover and heal.
Pahi also gets an answer to her inner dilemma that has plagued her from the beginning when Varun tells her: Meri zindagi mein sab ne mera istamaal kiya, pyaar sirf tumne kiya.
Pahi let go of the pain and took him back into her arms.
They spend more time together, lying side by side, hand in hand. Varun looks to see if it’s time to do his daily chores. He releases his hand from his grasp.
Meanwhile, Varun drew the last leaf of the tree. Keeping his Horcrux, Varun wrote the greatest masterpiece of his life, giving Pakistani women hope to live and proving once again that he had always loved the country more than anything else in the world.
It is said that a man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman, but a man who works with his hands, his brain, and his heart is an artist. The Lotera is made by artists like them who put their soul into it. Like Varun’s masterpiece, the film is one of the masterpieces of cinematography that continues to captivate with its brilliance.
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