October and “Where’s Dan?”

(Analysis of October movie, With Spoilers Ahead)

Dan (Varun Dhawan) – A Hotel Management trainee, working in a 5-star hotel has a long standing affair with reprimands. His child like demeanor and discipline issues keep earning him rebukes from the management. While his co-trainee Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) continues to earn admiration from the management, Dan is made to hop from one department to another viz. housekeeping, laundry, pest control and every other department except for the one which he loves the most – Kitchen.!

The year end arrives and along with it comes the long extended weekend, which would mean only one thing to the hotel staff – tight, hectic, tiring shifts. Dan slips away from the demanding schedule, as he goes home to attend his parents’ anniversary.

After a tiring day at work, the trainees gather on the terrace floor for some merry making. Shiuli makes a causal enquiry about Dan’s absence. “Where’s Dan? Haven’t seen him since yesterday” she asks – a casual enquiry indeed! A moment later, she tries sitting on the parapet, but only to slip down with a deadly fall. The accident pushes her into coma.

Dan returns from vacation and visits Shiuli at ICU, where she looks more equipment than human. The machines that are supporting Shiuli in her battle for life and their intrinsic details piques Dan’s fancy than her sorry state.

A dinner conversation with his roommate makes him learn about the events that preceded the accident. His friend makes a casual mention of Shiuli’s final words – “Where’s Dan?”

In spite of the attempts by others to write off her question as a casual one, Dan believes that it holds significance. He wants to know the reason behind her enquiry. He is in need of the answer, but the one who could answer his curiosity is living on ventilator, lost her conscious and showing no signs of recovery.

As rightly described in the trailer- “It’s not a love story, but a story about love”.! Dan doesn’t cry, neither does he laugh. He doesn’t say the magical words ‘I Love you’! Never once Dan tells us that he is in love with her. We see the love that a mother has towards her kid, siblings towards her sister and we see a Young adult whose pursuit for an answer evolves into an unconditional love.

Written beautifully by Juhi Chaturvedi, the script has transitioned into its absorbing visual form thanks to Shoojit Sircar and an exemplary cast.

In October, Shoojit doesn’t rely on heavy doses of background score and movement of Camera as much as he does on the performance of Actors. Rarely does the camera ‘dolly in’ to enhance the emotions and rarely does the Background score play to amplify the emotions. Isn’t that how it works in real life..? That’s one of the reasons why ‘October’ seems more real.

It also seems real, because the frames look extremely beautiful only when it has to and we don’t see actors mouthing deep philosophical dialogs garnished with metaphors. If any metaphor exists, then it exists in visual form – The flower Shiuli(Night Jasmine) being one.

The faith that Juhi and Shoojit have bestowed on ‘Keeping-it-simple’ coupled with his unorthodox methods, seems to have paid off, as the movie begins to appear more and more real, draws you into its world and puts you into perspective.

We have seen Varun Dhawan in his innocent avatars even before ‘October’. However, no other movie premise has been benefited by it, as much as this movie. The actor in Varun Dhawan ‘expresses it all, without really expressing anything’ and his restrained performance has only accentuated it.

Before the release of the movie, in one of his interviews he had said “I have never been so vulnerable on a film set. After a while, it stopped feeling like shooting. When you know that this is acting, it’s a film, there’s a block, that it’s okay. But when it stops feeling like acting and feels like real life, then the floodgates open”. After watching this movie, you shall know the significance that it holds for him.

Banita Sandhu speaks it all through her eyes and Gitanjali Rao has emotions written all over her face.

Casting of the movie is spot on! Shuttling between Hotel and Hospital, the movie has a plethora of characters that set up the perfect emotional ecosystem – roommate and his girlfriend who looks after Dan’s expenses, seemingly rude but silently caring boss, hostile colleagues, strangers, worried parents, friendly nurse and the list goes on. The cast appear to have slipped into their roles with an effortless ease.

The album has four plus songs, but the movie has none. However, the background score which plays only when needed stays with you!

I often compare movies with food. Probably ‘October’ is like the red wine. Few might love it at the very first go. For few others it’s an acquired taste. The fact that the movie is earning extreme reactions is disheartening for sure, but is quite understandable.

“Where’s Dan?” isn’t the central question of the movie. For Dan the central question is ‘Why did she ask about me?’ and hence the central question of the movie is – Whether Dan will be able to get an answer to it and whether his innocent attempts to revive her pays off or not?

And once you watch the movie you shall know that the movie is indeed about ‘Where’s Dan?’ – The answer to which lies in his self-discovery.

October is Juhi chaturvedi’s ‘Last leaf’, Shoojit’s best one yet and probably Varun’s ‘Where’s Dan?’ – As the actor in him appears to have made a self-discovery in this movie. Watch it if you want those emotional strings of yours to be pulled.

-Chan

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