Film review: Unlikely romance loses its spark in soulless sojourn

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

Film review: Unlikely romance loses its spark in soulless sojourn

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:


Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Updated 16 January 2021

Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram

DUBAI: Global pop group Now United has filmed its music video for “Lean on Me” at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Emirates Palace hotel.

The video starts with a sweeping view of the hotel, before showing band members performing choreographed dance moves in its plush corridors and outside terrace.

The band, made up of 16 members from as many countries, has spent the past few months in the UAE, following the search to find its newest member from the Middle East.

Nour Ardakani, a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th — and first Arab — member.

She was handpicked by Simon Fuller, who founded The Spice Girls and created the “American Idol” TV show.

Since Ardakani’s arrival, the group has been busy recording new music and shooting videos in various locations around the UAE.

The video for its track “Habibi,” released in November to officially welcome Ardakani into the band, was shot partly in Dubai’s historic Al-Fahidi district, and in her native Lebanon.

This is not the first time that an artist or group has turned to the Arab world for inspiring cityscapes.

Cardi B’s breakout single as a rapper, “Bodak Yellow,” was filmed in the UAE. The video, set in Dubai, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks, and received nominations for best rap performance and best rap song at the Grammys.

In 2018, US-Moroccan rapper French Montana went back to his roots for his “Famous” music video, shot in the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, where he grew up.

British recording artist M.I.A also shot her 2012 music video for “Bad Girls” in Morocco. The video, filmed in the city of Ouarzazate, won the VMA for best cinematography and best direction, and was nominated for a Grammy.