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“Photograph,” a made-in-Bombay fairytale

From the director of “The Lunchbox”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar and Deepak Chauhan
Directed by Ritesh Patra

She’s a young, well-educated and well-to-do woman studying to become an accountant. He is poor, works as a street photographer, comes from the countryside and is, in the eyes of his grandmother, too old to find another woman (but hope, it springs eternal, yadi yadi yada). They meet on the streets of Bombay. And thus begins Ritesh Batra’s new film “Photograph,” an(other) impossible love story, one that has been told a lot already. But, in the words of Stuart Smalley, that’s O.K.

Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a quiet man cohabiting with other poor saps in a one-room apartment. During the day they hawk inexpensive photographs to tourists. Once Rafi meets Miloni, the aforementioned student (played by Sanya Malhotra), he falls in love. Since his grandfather (played by Farrukh Jaffar) wants him to marry, and improve his lot in life, Rafi convinces Miloni to pretend to be his girlfriend. As it were, parental pressure to find a rich man to marry is pushing her to escape her genitors’ purview, too. Their only confidant is the servant Rampyaari (Geetanjali Kulkarni).

“Photograph” dusts off the age-old story of the princess who despite all the rules befitting her station decides to go for the peasant with the heart of gold. It’s familiar territory, to be sure, but Batra deploys some folksy wisdom throughout the movie and there’s plenty of laughs to be found. Like with his previous film “The Lunchbox,”in “Photograph” director Ritesh Patra strips away the story to its core and replaces the clichés with slow-brewed scenes that allow the atmosphere of Bombay to flood in, making everything about “Photograph” as true and palpable as Miloni and Rafi’s blooming romance.

“Photograph” comes out May 17th.