A major chunk of the film industry is under the misapprehension that when a film makes it to the festival circuit, it holds zilch prospects at the box-office. It isn't for the aam aadmi; these films are sans entertainment. Tags such as offbeat and unusual are attached to it, even before the audience can give its mandate. But the perception has gradually changed with time, with more and more people getting cinema literate. These films have been successful in striking a chord with the festival crowd as well as passionate moviegoers. Most importantly, these films have quashed the notion that they aren't commercially viable.
SHOR IN THE CITY, which won tremendous acclaim at various international festivals, takes this legacy forward. Like some striking films in the past, this one has the power to mesmerize and fascinate the festival crowd as well as those looking for an intelligent film while planning a trip to cineplexes. Yet, it is not one of those regular entertainers that we churn out with amazing regularity and which insult the intelligence of the viewer.
Get ready for a film that keeps you on the edge, but at the same time is one helluva entertaining film. As a film, SHOR IN THE CITY absorbs you into its world in no time. It is slick, has a lot of nervous energy and also has its share of fun moments. This one actually stands out in the crowd due to its unconventional plotline as well as execution.
SHOR IN THE CITY revolves around three stories in the midst of the noise and grunge of Mumbai. It has the gangster backdrop [but that doesn't make it dark and depressing] as well as the thriller quotient that keeps you on the edge. The three stories run concurrently - the characters are not connected with each other, they don't cross paths and nor is the film episodic. It's not like watching one character/story first, followed by the second and then the third. Nope, not at all! And there lies the beauty, for the characters never meet till the very conclusion, but there's a commonality or cohesion that can't be disregarded.
Does SHOR IN THE CITY bear an uncanny resemblance to the British black comedy FOUR LIONS? That's a misconception again, for FOUR LIONS was about four jehadis, while this one has a brand new story to tell.
SHOR IN THE CITY revolves around three loosely interconnected stories set in the midst of the noise and soot of Mumbai during Ganeshotsav festival. Abhay [Sendhil Ramamurthy], an outsider, is forced to come to terms with the fact that he is alone in an unwelcoming city, which he thought was home.
Tilak [Tusshar Kapoor] is an honest bootlegger who pulls scams with his unruly buddies Ramesh [Nikhil Dwivedi] and Mandook [Pitobash]. They chance upon a rare loot on a local train, which opens up new, dangerous avenues for them.
Young Sawan [Sundeep Kishan] has one goal, and more importantly, the only option - to get into the Mumbai Junior Cricket team. In a city where corruption is a way of life, the goal comes at a price - he needs to find the money first.
Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. deserve brownie points for their choice of the subject and most importantly, for handling it with aplomb. Though the situations are simple and the tone serious, the film offers laughs in decent doses.
Besides the skilful direction, the film is embellished with a taut screenplay [Raj Nidimoru, Krishna D.K., Sita Menon] that leads to an explosive, stunning, nail-biting finale. In fact, the penultimate moments are pure dynamite and any misgivings or shortcomings you may've had vis-a-vis the pace of the film vanishes into thin air when you watch the finale explode right in front of your eyes. Besides a watertight screenplay, the film is embellished with exceptional cinematography that's just hard to overlook [Tushar Kanti Ray] and some truly wonderful dialogue. Although there's not much scope for music [Sachin-Jigar], 'Saibo' and 'Karma Is A Bitch' do catch your attention - the former due to the soothing melody, the latter due to its infectious tune.
SHOR IN THE CITY belongs to the men, while the women [Radhika Apte, Preeti Desai and Girija Oak] take a backseat. Radhika [RAKHT CHARITRA, I AM] is a natural, while Preeti has good screen presence. Girija does a fine job. As for the men, Tusshar, Sendhil, Nikhil, Pitobash and Sundeep - each one shines in their respective parts.
Tusshar's character in SHOR IN THE CITY is a stark contrast to the characters he has portrayed in the GOLMAAL series. He displays a humane side that's sure to win hearts. Pitobash is simply outstanding and without doubt, the discovery of the season. His performance is bound to be talked about. Sendhil is efficient, displaying helplessness and anger with remarkable ease, while Nikhil is striking, especially towards the second hour. Note the sequence in the end, after the bank robbery goes wrong. Heâ€™s electrifying! Sundeep is first-rate, who, like Sendhil, displays vulnerability with natural ease. Amit Mistry is remarkable. Zakir Hussain is excellent.
On the whole, SHOR IN THE CITY belongs to one of those rare categories of movies with sensibilities that would not only entice the festival crowd and the cinema literate, but also lure the ardent moviegoer. Although it is not your standard Bollywood entertainer and nor does it have your customary flippant and frivolous humor, it prides itself on a certain distinctive Indian appeal with elements of adventure, thrill and drama with its understated and minimalist humor which makes it stand out in the crowd. I robustly recommend, try not to miss this one!