Have you heard of a little tale of the ‘Tree of Sorrow’ which loses its brightness during the daytime? There are plenty of them. Some relate it to Princess Parijathika who fell in love with the sun and some connect the tree with the mythological fantasy about Lord Krishna’s encounter with Rukmini. But the one which intrigued me the most is the one with no famous name attached. Let me quickly journey you through it.
Once upon a time, when people weren’t so different and would complain about their problems and sufferings to everyone around them, God decided to carry out a little contextual activity. Sadistic it may seem, but the master of the world took them all to the ‘Great Tree of Sorrows’ and told all the complainers to hang each of their complaints, sufferings on the branches of that tree. They gayly did as told, went back home and slept like babies. When they woke up the next morning, they didn’t know that the activity wasn’t over yet. They were once again taken to the tree and this time, they were told to pick any kind of sorrow from the tree which they thought they could deal with. You know what happens next. (If you don’t, you will)
Cut to Shoojit Sircar’s ‘October’. 21-year-old Dan (Varun Dhawan), a boy who works at Radisson Blu, despite having all the qualifications, is always given the more trivial jobs leading to him monkeying around and constantly trying to pursue a more dignified job at the hotel.
If you take the movie for its appearance, you will broadly see the commute from Delhi roads to the hospital and vice versa. While on the surface it looks like the disillusioned Dan suddenly finds a purpose and escape in a bed-ridden coma patient’s recovery, who he barely was even close to, but the meaning and symbolism go slightly deeper than what seems.
Unlike the people in the fictional tree story, Dan does leave his sorrows behind and inadvertently picks the grief of Shiuli who is on the verge of falling into a vegetative state, and turns into a pillar for her wailing family who has almost but lost hope. For the first time since his first film, Varun Dhawan so sincerely delves into the simply complicated character of Dan and becomes a wonder to watch. Bollywood debutante Banita Sandhu delivers a brilliant performance which will stay underrated but unforgettable.
The beauty of the film lies in its treatment of tragedy which is infused with comedy, a classic sign of brilliant film-making once again done right by Sircar. In a patient and what-can-be-called a slow-paced screenplay, the 1 hour 55 minutes long film dares to play sans a single song despite having melodies by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Armaan Malik in its album. What’s worth mentioning is one more example of unusual and unconventional screenwriting by Juhi Chaturvedi, all expressed in the metaphor-rich ‘October’, a story of unconditional love and self-discovery.
If you are still wondering why the film is called October and not April, it’s because this month marks the bloom of Shiuli – an aromatic short-lived night jasmine flower that grows on a tree informally known as the ‘Tree of Sorrows’. Clearly, Dan doesn’t pluck his Shiuli when she’s blooming but takes her once she has fallen. But does he leave the Tree of Sorrows a wiser man? That is something to watch & inhale.