‘Citylights’ ...Dark and drab…

MUMBAI: Citylights is a pretentious film which attempts to depict the plight of a migrant family in a metropolis like Mumbai! The film is actually a crime story but is touted as a poor migrant’s travails in a major city.

Rajkumar Rao is an ex-army man turned sari trader in Rajsthan’s Pali district. He fails to pay his liabilities and is thrown out of his shop by his creditors. After some deliberation, he decides to migrate to Mumbai with one contact number of a relative. He decides to do this with his wife and daughter, a move that you don’t see a sensible person make.

In Mumbai, where a newcomer ceases to be so within minutes as the city takes him into its embrace, Rao’s start is not good. His contact is not traceable on the number he has, and with just a name and no address to go on, Rao doesn’t make much progress. Next, someone offers him a one-bedroom home against Rs 10,000 deposit and rent to be paid later. The house is actually in the hands of painters who are giving it a fresh coat of paint. Rao has been duped of his money. Finally he finds shelter in an under construction building for Rs 100 a night.

From then on starts his struggle to find a job, which he lands eventually as a driver for a security company’s armoured car. These cars deliver sealed boxes to various clients and contain cash or stuff worth crores of rupees. Out of a horde of applicants, Manav Kaul, the supervisor, chooses Rao with a design in mind. Rao’s wife, Patralekha, meanwhile, finds a job with a dance bar.

Producer: Mukesh Bhatt.

Director: Hansal Mehta.

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Patralekha, Manav Kaul.

Kaul gradually cultivates Rao and plots to involve him in an earlier foiled robbery. Kaul had managed to save the box from that robbery and now he needs Rao’s help to get the key lying in the security company’s locker room. The boxes can’t be forced open as doing that can detonate a bomb inside killing the one who attempts. Kaul shifts Rao to the house where he has hidden the box before telling him about his plan. Rao is livid but Kaul has trapped him from all sides. While on one assignment, the robbers catch up with Kaul and kill him. Rao is suspended for not saving him. He is now jobless and broke. Patralekha has kicked her job too. Exasperated, Rao decides to make a sacrifice for his family. He decides to execute the plan Kaul had made.

The direction is fair. Music has no place yet is forced in. The original simple script has been complicated here. Performances by Rao and Patralekha are very good. Kaul makes an impact.

A black film with no relief, Citylights is hard to take; all it can hope for is an award or two.

‘Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi’...Same to you...

This is one more film with Delhi flavour and locales. It is about a middle class locality of Delhi where two friends have grown up together. They are inseparable and the most clandestine thing they do is to indulge in fruit beer once in a while. And, lest the audience not believe it is truly a Delhi story, the inevitable statue of Bajrangbali of Jhandewalan/Karol Bagh does not fail to make its appearance like in all Delhi centric films! And, of course, the title, Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi, is a local colloquial having little to do with rest of the country.

Producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Bejoy Nambiar.

Director: Aman Sachdeva.

Cast: Sidharth Gupta, Ashish Juneja, Simran Kaur Mundi.

Siddharth Gupta (Kuku) is an average student who fails to get admission to a college after high school. He, like all boys of such age, has agendas they dare not open up about. Siddharth attends the English tuition class only because the girl living in the house opposite the class, Simran Kaur Mundi, has caught his fancy. He is motherless, responsible for looking after and cooking for his younger sister and father, a government servant. But cooking is something he relishes doing. His dream is to own a restaurant some day while his father wants him to become a NASA scientist.

Kuku’s best friend, Ashish Juneja, is a little better off, hailing from a trading family. His family runs a sari shop and decides to set up a matching centre for him next to the sari shop so those who buy saris may go next door to his shop to buy matching falls and blouse pieces. While Ashish gets busy selling matching blouse pieces, Siddharth manages a job as a spot boy with a Haryanvi film unit. Here, at the shooting, just about everybody humiliates Siddharth. He snaps when his best friend too insults him.

Siddharth is seething with anger when his cousin from Kanpur enters the scene. The cousin is as foxy as they come and, as a way of taking revenge on Ashish, suggests to Siddharth that they burn down the Sari godown owned by Ashish’s family after stealing all the goods which could be sold to another trader to finance Siddharth’s dream of starting a restaurant.

Siddharth is now a successful eatery owner. Things change, he now has a car and, finally, also starts dating Simran who never noticed him in the seven years that he pined for her. But, the Kanpur cousin proves destructor for the family; his father gives up on his job while his sister is talked into leaking exam papers, both on the cousin’s advice.

Siddharth’s conscience begins to bite him for his crime. He decides to meet Ashish and own up to his crime. Eventually, crime does not pay but friendship does.

It is tough to understand the title of Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi to care enough to watch it. It was explained to me by the director as the generally used term ‘Vaat lag gayi’ in Mumbai. That is the most likely fate of this film at the box office.

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