Film review: Unlikely romance loses its spark in soulless sojourn

The pace is so lethargic that the film’s 110-minute running time begins to feel like an eternity. (Supplied)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Film review: Unlikely romance loses its spark in soulless sojourn

  • “Photograph” tries to be subtle and soft, but fails to connect on an emotional level

It is probably fair to say that director Ritesh Batra’s Sundance Film Festival premiere, “Photograph,” is unlikely to become one of his standout movies.
Pitted against his masterly 2013 debut work “The Lunchbox,” and his stirring “Our Souls at Night” in 2017, “Photograph” has the feel and texture of an old-world romance. It is leisurely and laid back but lacks the spirit of his earlier films.
In a way “Photograph” is similar to the Cannes premiered “The Lunchbox,” which traces the anguish of an ageing widower and a lonely, neglected young wife, whose handwritten notes, sent through Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox system, evoke affection as the pair build a fantasy world together.
However, “Photograph” explores a seemingly impossible relationship, this time between an upper-class educated girl and a street-corner lensman.
Mumbai and its iconic structures provide the backdrop to the unlikely story of Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) and Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). 
Struggling street photographer Rafi, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces shy stranger Miloni to pose as his fiancée. The pair develop a connection that transforms them in ways they could not have expected.
But Batra never makes it clear why an attractive and well-to-do Miloni gravitates toward Rafi, who takes snaps of visitors around Mumbai’s famous Gateway of India monument. 
Instead, Batra paints a quaint picture of an era when romance played out through stolen glances and coy touches, instead of mobile phone texts and social media. 
“Photograph” tries to be subtle and soft, but fails to connect on an emotional level, leaving several questions hanging. The pace is so lethargic that the film’s 110-minute running time begins to feel like an eternity.
Malhotra (whose performance in “Dangal” was a high point) impresses with her understated mannerisms and ability to sink into the moody, melancholic character of Miloni. But Siddiqui stutters and stumbles in the face of an underwritten part, and the bond between them does not gel.
Peter Raeburn’s music is intrusive to the point of extinguishing what few traces of affectionate warmth exist in Batra’s script. In the end, “Photograph” seems a soulless sojourn.

Watch the railer here:


‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019
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‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.