Rising Sun Films and Kino Works’ October is an unusual love story.
Dan (Varun Dhawan) and Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu) are interns in a five-star hotel. Alongwith other friends like Ishani (Isha Chaturvedi) and Manjeet (Sahil Vadoliya), they make a happy group. But like in every group, there are all kinds. Dan is a restless guy, raring to go. He feels bogged down by the mundane work his boss, Asthana (Prateek Kapoor), gives him, probably due to his (Dan’s) arrogance and irreverence. Shiuli is a conscientious and sincere worker.
One evening, the group of friends is partying by the hotel poolside on the third floor. Since Dan is not around, Shiuli casually asks the other friends where Dan was. Just then, she tries to sit on the parapet, loses her balance and falls to the ground floor in the hotel compound. Although she survives the horrendous accident, she slips into a coma.
Dan, like all the other friends, is shocked. Again, like all the other pals, he visits Shiuli in the hospital ICU. But he feels a strange connection with her as he gets very rattled on seeing her with tubes in her body. Then, Dan gets to know that Shiuli had enquired about him just before falling down. This makes him feel even more responsible towards her. His friends try to convince him that her question about his whereabouts was casual but Dan takes it upon himself to look after her and care for her, becoming a strong pillar of support for Shiuli’s family comprising her widowed mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer (Gitanjali Rao), younger sister, Kaveri (Iteeva Pandey), and younger brother, Kunal (Karamveer Kanwar). So consumed is Dan with caring for Shiuli, whose chances of survival are very low, that he starts neglecting his work and is ultimately dismissed from duty. And all this only because Shiuli had asked about him before falling down from the third floor.
What happens thereafter? Does Shiuli come out of the coma? Is Shiuli in love with Dan? Does Dan love Shiuli?
Juhi Chaturvedi has penned a heartfelt story about a young man selflessly looking after his friend even at the cost of his job. Not many boys would risk their job and their future for a girl who may be dying and who is not even a girlfriend but when Dan does this, he makes one think what’s wrong in being a caring friend. In other words, although everyone thinks in practical terms and moves on in such cases, Dan’s refusal to move on makes the viewers feel that it is not necessary that what the majority does is always right. In fact, the beauty of Juhi Chaturvedi’s story is that it doesn’t paint Dan as wrong or right – and consequently, it also doesn’t show his other more practical pals to be right or wrong! But the story does make the audiences wonder, question themselves and, most importantly, fall in love with Dan and his devotion.
Juhi Chaturvedi’s screenplay is, of course, very class-appealing, moving at a leisurely pace, but it does tug at the heart-strings. The screenplay gets depressing at times but it is also emotional and heartwarming. The weak-hearted may end up crying at a couple of places, especially in the end. A very positive point about the screenplay is that it infuses humour into the otherwise serious drama, giving the audience relief and reason to smile or even laugh at times. No doubt, the masses will not at all be able to enjoy the very slow-paced drama as it oscillates between depressing and emotional but the classes and a section of the audiences in the big cities will be floored by the character of Dan so much that they will love the drama.
Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues are very realistic. The funny ones are splendid while the other dialogues touch the heart. Even when the family is discussing whether they should allow Shiuli’s ventilator to be switched off (her paternal uncle is in favour of that), the humour stands in stark contrast to the depressing thought, giving the audience a novel experience.
All in all, Juhi Chaturvedi deserves praise for writing an extremely difficult script so beautifully.
Varun Dhawan is splendid in the role of Dan. His performance has so much honesty and integrity that he makes the character of Dan extremely endearing. At several points in the film, the viewer would feel like simply hugging Varun for making Dan so lovable. Credit to Varun for essaying the role with so much restraint because he has the image of a happy-go-lucky and over-the-top youngster who is boisterous and brash. Banita Sandhu makes an impressive debut in the role of Shiuli Iyer. She does full justice to her character. Gitanjali Rao slips into the character of Shiuli’s distraught mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer, and delivers a very mature performance. Ashish Ghosh makes his presence felt as Dr. Ghosh. Isha Chaturvedi is first-rate as Ishani. Sahil Vadoliya lends tremendous support as Manjeet. Prateek Kapoor shines in the role of Dan’s boss, Asthana. Nimmi Raphael has her moments as Sister Grace. Shekhar Murugan is very natural as Shiuli’s paternal uncle, Jairam Iyer. Iteeva Pandey (as Kaveri) and Karamveer Kanwar (as Kunal) are natural as Shiuli’s siblings. Rachica Oswal leaves a mark in the role of Dan’s mother. Nilanjana Banerjee, Sudeep Singh and Dr. Poonam Solanki (all three as doctors), Anshul Thakur (as Adi), Anmol, Caroline, Mishele Samrat, Maaz, Alex and Eran (all six as interns), Mala Gopal (as head nurse), Rajveer Khanna (as Akash Sarin), Nitika Anand (as Akash Sarin’s wife), Papori Medhi (as Maajda, the maid), Nikhil Dewan (as the senior in the laundry department), Niresh Kumar (as the parking security man), Mohammed Shoeb (as the general manager of the hotel), Shishendu Banerjee (as the senior manager of the hotel), Gaurav Mehta (as the banquet manager), Dr. Debabrata Mukhopadhyay (as the neuro surgeon), Javed (as the guard outside the neuro ICU), Vipin Katyal (as the night watchman at the hospital), Kumar Thakur (as the man outside the hospital in the night), Vibhuti Tomar (as the hospital receptionist) and the others lend very good support.
Shoojit Sircar’s direction is supremely sensitive. Rather than resorting to melodrama, he tells his story in a very understated manner. He very beautifully drives home the point that being practical in life is right but getting carried away by your emotions may also not always be wrong. There are no songs in the film – and that’s a minus point. However, there’s a song in the end credit titles and there are other promotional songs, composed by Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Arora. The pleasing music is in synch with the film’s mood. Lyrics (by Swanand Kirkire, Tanveer Ghazi and Abhiruchi Chand) are impactful. Shantanu Moitra’s background music is very effective. Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is lovely. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing is appropriate and suitably understated. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is crisp.
On the whole, October has class appeal but it has enough soul to touch many hearts and reach the winning post at the box-office, more so because its entire investment (cost of production plus cost of promotion, publicity and marketing) has been recovered completely from non-theatrical sources (satellite, digital, audio rights). Public reports will vary from boring to very sensitive but it will appeal to the target audience and do fair business at the ticket windows in the final tally. It may have started slow but collections will pick up, especially in good multiplexes and big cities. Business in small centres and mass-frequented single-screen cinemas as also in lesser multiplexes will, of course, be very dull.