Dir. Vijay Talwar
Lorie starts off looking like many a gentle middle-cinema film of its era. A married couple (Naseeruddin Shah and Swaroop Sampat) are shown in intimately domestic scenes, engaging in playful (if weirdly hostile) teasing; the film opens on their roof, with Suman giving Micky a generous massage. Then we meet Geeta (Shabana Azmi), a young, earnest teacher who, when criticized by her chauvinistic father for working at all, replies that she loves her work, but she's not opposed to marriage either. (Shabana, as expected in films of this era, looks completely gorgeous in a deeply colored range of sarees and kurtis.) And then comes Bhupi, Farooq Sheikh as the sort of cuddly sweetheart he plays so well. The understated, middle-class ordinariness of this foursome sets a very familiar tone, in the vein of Sai Paranjpe, Basu Chatterjee, and the like.
Bhupi and Geeta meet when Bhupi snatches one of Geeta's little students out of the path of an oncoming car, and both are instantly smitten. In a touching pair of scenes the next morning, Geeta confesses to her mother (Rohini Hattangadi), and Bhupi to Micky and Suman (Shah and Sampat), that they've met someone they like, but failed to exchange addresses or other identifying information. Bhupi, remembering the color of Geeta's students' uniforms, hires a cab and zips around to every school in Bombay to track her down. This gambit might cross the line into stalking in real life, but in Bhupi's almost preternaturally innocent hands it remains idealized and sweet. (And since we know Geeta likes him too, no harm, no foul.) Geeta and Bhupi's romance proceeds apace; while getting married requires defying Geeta's stern father, who has another son-in-law in mind, the couple are soon enjoying domestic bliss; with a child on the way, a song montage has them cutting pictures of cute babies from magazines to decorate the nursery.
Then tragedy strikes, and Lorie starts getting weird.
Geeta miscarries and learns that she cannot ever bear children. All Geeta has ever dreamed of is to be a mother. As a teacher she is shown to be more of a nurturer than an instructor, frolicking with her students, singing to them, cuddling them. Indeed, she states pretty explicitly that teaching is a way to tide herself over until her overweening craving for children of her own can be satisfied. With the sudden loss of this dream, Geeta is (understandably) despondent and even inconsolable. When she finds a little boy, Laddu, left on a bus by his gaggle of siblings and their distracted and overwhelmed parents (Madan Puri and Shaukat Kaifi), she takes him home and claims him as her own son. Geeta has come unhinged; there is a manic and almost willful delusion to her insistence that the child is hers, and at times even a clear consciousness of guilt behind her dreamy claims of motherhood.
It's one thing for Geeta to disconnect from reality in the face of such a grave loss. It's not my favorite storyline; while I can understand some grief at losing one's ability to be a mother, the leap from grief to either criminality or delusion sends a message that I can't get behind about the significance of motherhood as a goal in itself, so centrally important that even a smart, capable woman can completely lose her moorings when it is taken away from her. But even with that story to tell, Lorie would be a better movie if it were only Geeta who lost her mind. Instead, everyone around her loses touch with rationality as well. Bhupi can't bear to see her suffering, so he plays along with her altered reality, only weakly challenging her delusion before backing off at the slightest hint of tears. Even Micky and Suman look the other way while Bhupi helps Geeta evade the police.
But the film's ending is where things get truly strange. I will spoil it here (it's a 30-year-old film, after all): Apprehended and tried, Geeta is found guilty of kidnapping, but the judge sets aside the verdict and frees her. Reasonable enough; perhaps he really is convinced that Geeta is sufficiently remorseful and not in danger of recidivism. But then, stepping out of the courthouse, she is greeted by throngs of chanting supporters. This is very odd - what could they possibly support about what she did? One might be sympathetic toward her but it's a long way from that to hailing her as a hero.
Then, finally, in the coup-de-grace of weirdness, Laddu's parents push through the crowd and press the boy into Geeta's arms, saying that she has become his true mother and should take him from now on.
Laddu's family is shown to be quite direly poor; there are more children than the indolent, prideful father can provide for. If Lorie were portraying a desperate family taking an opportunity to reduce the household burden while offering one of their children a more prosperous life, that might make sense as a tragic but understandable storyline. But that's not the thrust of this ending at all. Earlier in the film, Bhupi and Geeta investigate adoption options, and make an offer to a poor family who seemed to have children to spare; that mother gives an angry and dignified dressing-down that you might think they would not soon forget. Thus Lorie emphatically rejects the notion that poor people are ready to part with their children out of financial necessity. So what the heck is going on with Laddu's parents? It's a bizarre and nonsensical outcome.
But maybe it's not that much weirder than Madan Puri and Shaukat Kaifi as a couple, or a very young Paresh Rawal as an eloquent prosecutor.
This turn into bizarro-land where women can permanently usurp the children of others without incurring jail time (or at the very least, court-ordered psychiatric care) undermines all of Lorie's gentle domesticity and tender relationships. The movie has stuck with me after watching, but mostly because I can't figure out what it is actually trying to do. It's a muddle, and just doesn't make very much sense as a narrative.