You know those movies which hit all the right spots by the intermission and no matter how they screw up from there on doesn’t matter as you know you’ll walk out of the theatre having felt a connect? October is one such creation of raw brilliance.
I fall into the most common category of people these days; completely surrounded by mass media, consuming content on their screens of all sizes every waking moment in a day. I search for human connect behind these glassy screens and October was a jewel amongst the abundance of unpolished stones that Bollywood churns out every other day.
The main characters of the movie are interns at one of the more luxurious hotels in Delhi. Dan is the symbol of untamed young innocence who does not break a sweat in hiding his apathy for the job. He comes off as the unruly troublemaker, which does not win him any favours from his supervisor. But harmlessness is an underrated trait. It gets him a strong bunch of friends in his corner who always have his back. Shiuli, on the contrary, is a reserved over-achiever. Despite a few rough outbursts by Dan against her, she is always kind to him. Although a classic pairing between the top of the class and the bottom, it does not quite factor into the story as expected. By mischance, Shiuli ends up slipping off the ledge from the third floor as the interns are celebrating on new year’s eve. Her coincidental last words give birth to this strange story of love; of a relationship where there are no words exchanged; of a bond completely absent when both were fully functioning human beings spending days together; of a love affair which dies without any expression of love.
“Where’s Dan?” – These were Shiuli’s last spoken words before her coma-inducing fall. Dan was nowhere around when this accident happened. In fact, he was so disassociated with Shiuli that he was uncomfortable even going to visit her in the hospital at first. But, something about seeing someone else in pain and suffering snaps a few knots within us. Just like everyone else, he could not comprehend the fragility of her situation, seeing pipes and machines pumping life into her vanquished body. He got to know about his reference in the moments before her fall and it gripped him. He became obsessed with her as a lost boy just wandering through life had finally encountered something meaningful. It was never about attraction for him. Again, “Platonic” is too intimate a term to describe their relation. It was perhaps love out of obsession for him. In the unsettling cold nights, sleeping on benches outside her hospital, he grew more and more closer to her. Sympathy is an innate emotion and we all come hardwired with it. I believe sympathy made him care about her and he cared so much that he fell in love with her. Shiuli could sense it throughout her battle and reciprocated naturally.
I hear critics complaining about the length of the movie and finding it boring. Well, that is how medical battles are; long-drawn-out, slow and mostly uneventful. The rawness of acting for the role of Dan, Shiuli and Shiuli’s mom is what stood out for me. The no-frills take on the movie is what defined it. I was glad to not see a slow-mo or a repetitive shot of Shiuli’s fall. It captured the suddenness of reality. The movie gently carves a hole in your heart throughout the length of it. It leaves you with a dull sadness that may take some time to go away. But if you want a pang of something real in between all the crass “Blockbusters” excreted on you, then it is worth checking out Dan of October.