Today, 28th June marks the anniversary of Luca’s release. But I have watched it only recently and still haven’t stopped thinking about Luca and Niharika.
Luca tells the haunting love story of a young scrap artist and a girl he meets at the Cochin biennale. Here, two people with disturbed pasts form an immediate bond and their love grows passionately.
The movie opens with a suspenseful event, the police investigation into the death of one of the lead characters. The initial investigation pointed towards a possible suicide, but the investigating officer Akbar is not ready to conclude it just yet. He gets a diary from the investigation site, which could shed some light into the possible cause of the death. The love story of Luca and Niharika is revealed through this diary of Niharika. The makers here, opt for layered story telling which parallelly tells the love story, Akbar’s investigation and Akbar’s disturbed relation with his wife Fatima.
The relationship between Luca and Niharika starts with a fight when the latter mocks one of Luca’s exhibited scrap arts at the Cochin biennale. But when Niharika sees the beauty depicted in that art, she expresses her regret to Luca and which in turn opens the passage for a relationship. They develop a connection immediately and Niharika shares a harrowing experience in her childhood which she has kept for herself all her life. Luca is a very complicated man who was suffering from thanatophobia(fear of death) and Necrophobia(fear of dead bodies) caused by the death of her parents at two different stages of his life. The two find solace in each other’s arms as their affection becomes intense.
The character Luca may irritate you in the beginning, his eccentric reaction to the men selling fish at the beech for example. But slowly we learn that it is his mental condition which unsettles him even at the sight of a dead fish. But he is the one who identifies Niharika’s sorrow burried deep inside her smile and he portrays it through an instant sketch, blowing her away. The entire Luca-Niharika passage is taken with utmost sincerity by the makers, the soulful story and their chemistry are what elevate the movie. But the same can’t be told about the Akbar-Fatima part of the story. The scripting and dialogues often sound unconvincing and the weightage given to their troubled marriage and an old broken love story of Akbar take away lot of the best work done on the former story. Even the investigation was highly dramatic and it is the thought of what would have happened between Luca and Niharika is what keeps us engaged in the investigation part. Even amidst the refreshing romance and fun, a feeling of pensive sadness looms from the start of the story which leaves us enmeshed in the movie.
The cinematography is brilliant in showcasing the aesthetics of Fort Cochin and the surroundings. The art direction truly succeeds in showing the artist in Luca, especially the mind blowing scrap art at the biennale. The appearance of Luca and his costumes often reminded of Dulquer Salman in ‘Charlie’. But it was apt for someone who is careless about dressing and discipline. The background score is highly expressive; it plays a major role in creating an aura of mystery at the beginning, soulfully syncs with the love story and even as the end title rolls it deeply evokes your emotions. The songs are also really pleasing ones, especially ‘Neeyilla Neram’ which is a haunting composition. ‘Vaanil Chandrika’ which is played during Akbar’s romantic flash back is another one of my favourites. Both tracks are ever present in my music playlist after watching the movie.
Tovino gives one of his best onscreen performances as Luca, brilliantly portraying the artist who goes through lot of mental agonies. Luca goes through several layers of human emotions; his deeply buried fears, frequent outbursts, anxieties and panic attacks all shown with great control by the actor. Ahaana Krishna really was a surprise package. She hasn’t done anything noteworthy after her debut in ‘Njan Steve Lopez’, but Niharika Banerjee breathes into life through Ahaana. She owns the role of Niharika, who is bold at first sight, but an abused childhood and a lot of vulnerabilities are suppressed behind that boldness. Nithin George gives a natural flavour to his portrayal of Inspector Akbar Hussein, though some of the dialogues were dramatic. Him and Vinitha Koshy as Fathima fall victims to some uninspired writing in that passage of play.
Luca could have been a classic if the makers have shown the same sincerity as in the Luca-Niharika part for the whole movie. The movie is setup as a mistery thriller. But it really works as a haunting love story backed up with some stunning visuals and background score and will remain with you for a long time.
Language : Malayalam Streaming on : Manorama Max