A boy doesn’t care for a job he’s training for.
The girl does. A lot. She just cares. About everything.
About stopping to smell the flowers. Covering up for him. Enquiring about him when he’s not around.
She IS named after/like jasmine herself (Shiuli) and he’s Dan. The only time they have a conversation is when he asks her why she’s collecting jasmine flowers that are dead.
No, they don’t fall in love. She falls… from the terrace by accident.
Her last words before going into a coma was a casual enquiry: Where is Dan?
The boy wonders what it means. And in trying to find out what it means, begins to care for her. Little by little. And soon we realise this has led him to care about more people around him.
That’s the nature of care. It’s infectious. When you care, someone else cares.
Every act of caring triggers another act of caring in writer Juhu Chaturvedi’s universe. (If she romanticised bodily functions we don’t like to talk about in our cinema – like semen in Vicky Donor or Stool in Piku, here it’s urine – that convinces him that there is life in her. And keeping track of her urine output, he knows she’s getting better.)
Every unaffected character slowly begins to care about the other.
Caring is so organic that it blooms and grows – it heals you and makes you someone who can take care of not just a flower but an entire Jasmine plant. (Fun fact: Jasmine has medicinal properties.)
She falls, like a flower, but leaves healing him. He comes of age. He understands that caring unconditionally is the purest form of love. It’s born out of empathy, gives us purpose and helps us find love we never knew we were capable of.
Maybe he finally knows why she used to collect dead jasmine flowers or maybe not – but we know. She just cared.
And now he does too. He has become her.
October, hence, is a rare beautiful film about caring like we have never seen before in our movies.
Banitha Sandhu as Shiuli, Gitanjali Rao as her mother and Varun Dhawan (a career best) are terrific but it’s the writer Juhi Chaturvedi who wins ours hearts again. Thank you Shoojit Sircar for doing this brave and understated sublime poem justice.
Reminds me of a beautiful poem that I just managed to hunt down:
This is the film our angry, hateful, practical world needs.
We need to stop and ask ourselves: Where is Dan?
Our inner Dan needs to start caring.
Because caring heals… the self.