I have always maintained that inspiration of any kind from the West or the East is perfectly alright so long as you give credit to the original and don’t mess it up. I don’t come from a school of thought that all cinema is good only if it is an original. If that was the case then The Departed (Scorcese) would never have received and Academy Award.
Hansal Mehta and before him, Ajay Bahl (B.A. Pass fame) were assigned to adapt Sean Ellis’ 2013 British-Filipino drama titled Metro Manila. MM was Great Britain’s official entry to this year’s Academy Awards. To their credit, Mehta and Vishesh Films (The Bhatts) give full credit to Metro Manila right at the beginning. So there is no doubt in people’s heads that this is an adaptation of an already acclaimed movie.
They then take it forward to make a wonderful and must watch movie that they have quite surprisingly titled “Citylights”. One would have expected a bit more creativity or a name that was say more Indian-sounding. Then again the Bard also said something about a rose that people would remember (or so I hope).
Deepak Singh (Rajkummar Rao – I wonder what was the need for an extra m because he was doing and is still doing just as fine), has left the army to spend more time with his family. He was a driver. He now owns a saree shop that his money lenders have sealed. Unable to pay the loan, Deepak takes off to Mumbai with his family i.e. wife Rakhi (Chitralekha) and daughter Mahi.
A few hours into Mumbai and he gets relieved of `10K, is homeless, jobless, cannot find his relative and is worse off from what he was. Out of desperation, Rakhi takes up a tob as a bar dancer till a few days later, Deepak finds a job at a Firm that delivers high security boxes. What Deepak doesn’t know is that things are going to take a turn for the worse.
Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao capture the desperation of a family that walks into the city of dreams quite brilliantly. Mehta does his bit with the overall feel of the movie that shuttles between flashes of hope and darkness. Rajkummar Rao continues to show us why he is probably THE most talented actors in this country today.
The two are ably supported by the rest of the cast including Manav Kaul (Bittoo Mama from Kai Po Che) and the newbie Chitralekha. Citylights also has some wonderful dialogue that ensures that capture the emotion surrounding the film. In all, a movie that you must try and catch up over the weekend. 7 on 10. Good to see some quality cinema coming from the Bhatt’s table.
Watch the trailer on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw