PHOTOGRAPH gets 5.5/10 Take my picture

Directed by Ritesh Batra

Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra


This new romance film holds itself in an awkward position between its two genre aspirations: wanting to be an examination of forced love, and wanting to be an endearing story of love. Photograph paves the way with good intentions, despite the bumpiness in its road, but it struggles to find closure to the curious (non) romance it has opened for itself.

The relationship the title has to the story is that Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a street photographer who offers up instant film photographs at the Gateway of India landmark. One of his customers, the reluctant and shy Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), leaves before he can hand over her photo, so he decides to use it to appease his grandmother’s concerns about his bachelorhood – he shows her the photo and says the young woman is his fiancée. But his grandmother wishes to meet her and he manages to track down Miloni and convince her to play pretend for his grandmother.

From here, there’s an intelligent tension to this fabricated relationship, never forcing the characters into any obvious situations. This is certainly a refreshing take on the strangers-pretending-to-be-in-love trope, which this film makes a point of recognising, comparing itself to a romance movie glimpsed at in a cinema the couple go to. But this film’s graceful nature allows it to be unfocused and indecisive about how it lays out this progression of their unusual relationship.

It feels like big chunks of the characters’ developing are missing, and yet it also feels like there’s plenty of unnecessary scenes of characters as well, adding nothing to what needs to be added. A few secondary characters seem to get a last scene that completes their own arc in the story, only to later have another scene that ends up reopening their arc and then leaving it gaping.

All of this mismatched editing causes great pacing problems, making it feel longer than its 108 minute run-time. Photograph’s breezy approach makes it both inviting and disengaging, as it lulls you into its worldview, but then doesn’t know where to take you from there.


Photograph plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, March 16 – Sunday, March 22 at 7:30pm.