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Upperstall Review


Official Site

Shor In the City


Hindi, Thriller, 2011, Color

When the noise is deafening, can you really hear yourself? That is the underlying thought that runs through this gritty, grounded film that revolves around three loosely interconnected stories set in the midst of the noise and grime of Mumbai during the Ganpati festival. Abhay, an outsider, is forced to come to terms with the fact that he is alone in an unwelcoming city, which he thought was home. Living in a comfortable shell, he soon discovers that he might not be different from the thousands that mill around the city. Tilak, an honest bootlegger, who pulls scams with his unruly buddies, chances upon a rare loot on a local train, which opens up new, dangerous avenues for them. He is pulled into the unlikely adventure of findings an empty place in the overpopulated city where they can blast a bomb..... For kicks! Young Sawan 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 price1 he needs to find the money first. In the overcrowded urban landscape that forms the backdrop of this film, the right and wrong are blurred, giving way to the more basic need to survive and succeed...

Karma is a bitch, but itís not something the makers of this film need to worry about. Because Shor in the City is a refreshing, original voice in tinsel town, one that is free of the conventions and trappings of commercial movies, yet an entertaining watch at the same time.

This is a filmmakerís film. The best scenes are those where what you see and hear Ė or not, in this case Ė say much more than dialogue. Time and again, a look, a gesture, a visual is enough to make a point that no amount of lines could achieve. The scene when Mandook puts a gun to his head, or the one where the three friends go to blow a bomb for the heck of it, or the virtually wordless love track between Tilak and Sapna. That this happens in the film consistently is one of the things that make it a pleasure to watch. Of course, a majority of Hind film directors are strangers to this concept, or underestimate it completely. They have a compulsion to spell out everything that is unfolding on screen, assuming that the audience will not understand otherwise.

The film has lovely moments of originality that are unexpected in their arrival, and gratifying in their existence. The climax is a scene that you know is going to come as the story moves along, but the way it deftly shifts from being part of one track to that of another catches you by surprise, and when you realize what just happened, you canít help but admire the dexterity of how it was pulled off. When Abhay comes back to finish the third goon, itís a set piece scene and it works.

There are many good things that come together for Shor in the City. The multi-track story segues through the many dimensions, shades, and layers of Bombay. As the backdrop, the city plays the fifth wheel in this film beautifully, and the locations very much add to the ambience and mise en scene throughout the film. The pacing of the film is zippy, and the plot moves easily from one track to the other. A sure sign of a well written, tight, and firmly handled script, this. The other aspect to note is how well each character has been defined. Even a clearly secondary character like Sharmila is not relegated to being a stereotype. When you see Abhay going about the city in a chauffer driven car, like how NRIs usually do, you appreciate the attention to detail to a point that really no one would have noted even if they had done otherwise. Thatís delightful.

The acting is excellent all across. Sendhil Ramamurthy is perfectly cast as the NRI coming back to start a new business in India. Pitobash Tripathyís Mandook is a flashy, in your face character, and he delivers a livewire performance. Tusshar Kapoor as Tilak and Sundeep Kishan as Sawan are the relatively weak links in an otherwise finely acted ensemble, right from the main protagonists to the character roles of the goons. Credit to the writers and the actors for giving us such believable characters in the film.

Of the four tracks, Abhayís is probably the most compelling. It has a definite arc, starting from an NRI unaccustomed of the ways of the city to a man who gets colored with its hue by the end of it. He is financially privileged, but still has a battle to fight in Bombay, that of fitting in. For the other characters, itís a matter of survival to stand out- of making a living beyond what they were born to, of pursuing dreams that few dare to and fewer succeed Ė after all, everyone canít be Sachin Tendulkar, as the cricket selector insightfully pronounces to Sawan. They all end up chasing money, the one language that Bombay understands best, until they realize the futility of this simply because they end up losing much more in the bargain.

The film is not without flaws. Whatever happened to Abhayís dark past that was hinted at so strongly? Sejalís agreeing to an arranged marriage and then breaking it off seems a tad bit pat, almost a way to setup a conflict point in Sawanís story. But the fact is these do not take away from all that the film has to offer. The film is set during Ganesh Chaturthi, a time when the noise drowns out everything else in the city, For some, it blocks out the bad, for the others it distracts from the good. Either way, the din brings out within the protagonists who they really are, and what they want to be.

Watch the film, itís a Shor shot winner.

Upperstall review by: Mr Care

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