I had some positive feelings about Lootera until the last 30-minutes or so of the film.
And then all my good vibes came crashing down because of the butchering the late American short-story writer O.Henry’s Last Leaf had to endure at the inept hands of director Vikramaditya Motwane.
Set in the early 1950s, Lootera is adapted in part from The Last Leaf by O.Henry, the nom de plume of William Sydney Porter who died in 1910.
Last Leaf is perhaps the writer’s best story, way better than his Gift of the Magi and After Twenty Years (my other O.Henry favorites). The touching story is about a sick woman’s belief that she’ll die when the last leaf falls off the tree outside her window and how her old neighbor’s sacrifice and “masterpiece” painting saves her life.
The first half of Lootera is about a thief/fake archeologist (Ranveer Singh) stealing the heart of the Zamindar’s daughter (Sonakshi Sinha), robbing a precious idol from the village temple, abandoning the girl and betraying the trust of the Zamindar and causing his death.
But the irony of Lootera is that the second half, adapted from The Last Leaf, is mauled badly negating all that comes before it.
There’s a certain subtlety, charm, tender grace, pathos and, above all, a huge surprise in the ending of The Last Leaf that’s completely missing in Lootera.
In typical Bollywood style, the grace and charm are replaced by a crude, crass, clumsy attempt that shows the injured hero climbing a ladder to the tree, almost slipping off, his blood dripping on the snow, attaching a painted leaf to a branch and finally slipping and falling on his back from a height.
A fall that would shatter any spine, except Ranveer Singh’s!
Despite the heavy fall the already-injured hero suffers in the process of attaching the leaf, we see him a couple of minutes later looking like he’s fresh out of the shower and about to head for a party.
Worse, the heroine’s reaction upon seeing the last leaf beggars belief.
With an asinine smile, the heroine goes down memory lane about her romantic interludes with the hero in the village.