Photograph Critics’ Review: Nawaz-Sanya Romance Is a Slow-Burner

The Ritesh Batra film was screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

2 min read
A still from <i>Photograph</i>.&nbsp;

Film: Photograph
Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar

Whether roaming the streets of Mumbai or the plains of Colorado, Batra’s filmmaking has remained markedly consistent in tone and texture: You’d be hard pressed to find anyone making nicer films in world cinema right now.That’s an easy quality to underrate, as is the modest but careful craftsmanship and muted but honest performance style that makes ‘Photograph’ — a film itself about the rewards of patiently building on first impressions — a winsome diversion. At the same time, it’s hard not to wish for an occasional hot surge of uncivil emotion in this mellow May-December romance between a hard-up street photographer and an introverted student from opposing social realms.
Guy Lodge, Variety
Batra deftly sets up the push and pull between tradition and modern views of marriage, and of the class differences separating the would-be couple. When they go on a movie date, Miloni jumps a bit in her seat. Rafi says it’s nothing, just a rat scampering across her feet. Production designer Shruti Gupte and cinematographer Ben Kutchins create a vivid look that silently highlights those distinctions, from the busy touristy streets of Mumbai to Miloni’s comfortable but nondescript family home and the dark hovel Rafi shares with several other men, sleeping on mats on the floor.No one should head into a Batra film expecting fireworks, but for anyone who appreciates his understated style, Photograph is a satisfying, unswoony romance.  
Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
A poster of the film.&nbsp;
A poster of the film. 
Photograph’s deliberate pace does bring some rich rewards for the patient viewer, while a lovely ending feels like a throwback to the old-fashioned big screen romances of yore. Gorgeously-shot in Mumbai, Photograph will find its following with hopeless romantics, whether that be on the big screen or small... Mostly, Photograph entrances when it’s swimming through the city with its star-crossed lovers. Ben Kurtchin’s camerawork is steady yet beguilingly liquid  – some sequences are clearly hand-held, but they glide. Mumbai is burnished with his available light, making even Rafi’s single-dwelling slum seem seductive. In the absence of complex plot, or any sense of urgency in its telling, a piano-based score by Peter Raeburn becomes a little too much of a crutch. 
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

Photograph was screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and will release in India in March.

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