PHOTOGRAPH – Review by Susan Granger

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After his acclaimed debut feature The Lunchbox (2013), writer/director Ritesh Batra crafts this compelling tale of romance in Mumbai, where a shy street photographer snaps a picture of a young woman and – to satisfy his doting grandmother – passes her off as his love interest.

Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is struggling to pay off an old family debt. To do this, he stands near the Gateway of India, taking photographs, which he sells to the constant steam of tourists.

One day, he spies pretty Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), who is studying to become an accountant. When she disappears into the crowd, he pockets her picture and doesn’t think more about it until his family and friends put more and more pressure on him to find a wife.

Impulsively, Rafi shows them Miloni’s photograph, not realizing that they’ll all want to meet her. His beloved dadi (Farrukh Jaffar) – a.k.a. paternal grandmother – who has threatened to stop taking her medication until he marries – immediately makes plans to make the long trip from their small village to the big city.

That means Rafi must not only find Miloni but, somehow, convince her to pretend that she is his fianceé. What makes his persistent quest fascinating is the way Ritesh Batra subtly delineates their backgrounds and cultural differences.

In color-conscious India, Rafi skin is darker than Miloni’s fair complexion. Even his dadi calls him a “black raisin,” noting he works in the sun all day. Miloni’s middle-class family is obviously of a higher caste than Rafi’s.

But there’s a mutual attraction and an abundance of kindness and compassion. “I didn’t see myself,” Miloni explains, looking at her image in Rafi’s photograph. “I saw someone happier and prettier.”

In Hindi and Gujarati with English subtitles, “Photograph” is a slow-paced, sweetly discreet 7. Patience pays off.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.