October is a peculiar film in both Shoojit Sircar and Varun Dhawan’s career, and I mean that in the best way possible. It is confident in its quiet moments and finds meaning in silence. Bollywood, or even Indian cinema in general, has long been regarded as an industry that wears its emotion on its sleeve. While that may be a generalised opinion, it holds some ground and recent successes like RRR, KGF 2 and Pushpa: The Rise serve as solid examples.
So to make a film like October was a bold move. Even in 2018, when OTT was not the giant it has now become, and the debate between films releasing on OTT vs on big screens was yet to gather momentum, October was considered a risk by many, with Varun even claiming that people close to him had advised him to not do the project.
But screenwriter Juhi Chaturvedi has her own take on such films. “Not all stories are written to entertain. Some are there just to silently knock on the doors of your heart and soul to ask, ‘hey, are you there?’ October was that. A mood. A season. A knock,” she told indianexpress.com.
October, written by Juhi Chaturvedi and also starring Banita Sandhu in her debut, was a moving portrait of a human bond. What Varun’s Dan and Banita’s Shiuli shared in October was not strictly the conventional love you often see between a man and a woman. Juhi, who has also written Deepika Padukone-Irrfan’s Piku, explained why she had written those characters the way she did.
Juhi said, “It’s rather difficult to explain what works between two people. There is definitely a pull or an energy I’d say that draws you closer. You can sense it every time you are around that person. There is an awareness and you see it in your interaction with the other person, in your reaction to their thoughts, the conversations that you have, the sharing of ideas, individual philosophy, the agreements, disagreements, everything goes into making of a relationship. To say that ‘that’ energy is just love, I am not sure.”
“There is no reason why Rana and Piku should feel these undercurrents between them, but they do. Or Dan and Shiuli, without even being friends, they find a connection that runs so deep. This stands out perhaps because their feelings didn’t conform to the relationship framework provided by the society. But seen purely from their point of view, they are just simple people who are invested and interested in each other like human beings should, without looking for any end goal or a label. That knowing is magical. Uncorrupted. The only intent is to express their earnestness. That for me is a superior purpose…when you gently exist around someone,” added the writer.
And then there is that pivotal moment in October that kind of shifts gear of the movie’s engine — when Shiuli suffers that traumatic, sudden fall from the terrace. The manner in which that takes place at once feels shocking and real, so how did Juhi arrive there?
“My writing doesn’t move forward even by a word until I have the names of all the characters. And it took a fair amount of time to come up with Banita’s character’s name in October. She was this person in my imagination but I wasn’t able to write her until SHIULI came to my mind. That she would be in coma, it was always there from the beginning but I was still not okay with either a brain stroke, or illness as a cause…somehow it wasn’t building up but as soon as she became Shiuli, I knew exactly what’ll happen to her. Like the Shiuli or Harshringar flower itself, she would fall…at night. And her fragrance would forever linger in Dan’s life. Her short-lived life would give a purpose to Dan’s birth,” Juhi concluded.