Saturday, August 25, 2007

A 'metro' worth visiting...

Correction: It came to my attention that I originally included Shool as a good performance by Shilpa Shetty. I was kindly reminded that Raveena Tandon was the lead actress in Shool. Ms. Shetty's contribution was the item number, Main Aayi Hoon U.P. Bihar Lootne. My apologies for deeming that a performance. (Thanks Roopam)

In my last post I spoke of gathering an ensemble cast and then failing at extracting any good performances or creating a cohesive story. In Life in a...Metro, director Anurag Basu manages to bring out the best in nine performers while simultaneously narrating six different stories. As if that were not enough, Basu manages to weave them into one cohesive unit without ever delving into the contrived coincidences to which the Hindi film industry is so accustomed.

Metro tells the modern-day tale of a metropolitan area, of the interconnectedness of its inhabitants and the deceit that plagues India's upper-middle class. Never once do you feel as though you are watching something implausible or farcical. The plights of each character are such that anyone can empathize or at least admit to have seen before.

Last time I talked of regressive directing, of how Anubhav Sinha somehow managed to take enormous steps backward with his latest release, Cash. Basu, on the other hand, seems to have improved leaps and bounds in the art of storytelling. For someone who made his directorial debut with Kucch To Hai, a cheap I Know What You Did Last Summer rehash, and then went on to plagiarize every other Hollywood film possible, it comes as almost a shock that he is capable of such meticulous direction; especially considering his list, until now, comprised of the disastrous Arthur remake Tumsa Nahin Dekha and the 'why don't we sell some sex' copy of Unfaithful, i.e. Murder. Somewhere in between was a semi-convincing (but still entirely unoriginal) Saaya, until Basu finally struck gold last year with a dark horse sort of film called Gangster.

And now, as if out of the blue, he's made a film on par with international cinema, something that very few contemporary Hindi filmmakers can boast of. Yes, Karan Johar, we still watch your films. But my oh my would we be embarrassed to watch them with our non-desi friends.

Disclosing the actual plot-lines would risk giving away too much, so I will simply talk about the performances and music. Each and every actor comes out a winner. Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan are already seasoned performances and do not let you down. Shiney Ahuja can add this film to his already-growing repertoire of promising performances. He's definitely a talent to look out for. Sharman Joshi is also quite the surprise package - someone who has appeared in the most useless of films, such as Style, Excuse Me and Shaadi No. 1 seems to have finally found his footing in a more serious, not to mention productive, venture.

If you think the ladies are around to provide the romance and dance around trees, you better guess again. Each is as strong as her male counterpart. Shilpa Shetty has emerged into a fine actress - it seems that she is finally finding the roles that showcase her acting prowess, some 15 years after she announced her arrival in the industry. Metro will definitely go down with Dhadkan and Phir Milenge as her career-best performances. Konkona Sen Sharma is another phenomenal talent to look out for. She continues to prove her worth post-Omkara and Page 3. Kangna Ranaut also takes one by surprise - while she definitely showed signs of talent in her earlier outings, one felt she was rather over the top. Here she manages to keep herself restrained.

Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali are as charming as ever.

The music is also outstanding - a great blend of Pakistani and Bangladeshi artistes, with some Indian for good measure. :)

Verdict: A must-watch for everyone!


Suchit said...

Great site brina!
I agree with you, I loved Metro. To me it reminded me a bit of Crash.

I just saw chak de yesterday which was actually....really good.

See it...and i shall wait...

roopam said...

what did Shilpa perform other than the item number in Shool?
u made me create an account for this...

Shreya said...

I admit that Metro was very well made and that it potrays the dark-side of the fast-growing Indian cities quite realistically, but I was quite annoyed at the way in which the stories ended for Shilpa Shetty and Konkana Sen Sharma. I was wondering if Basu was trying to insinuate the message that Shilpa had forgiven Kay Kay Menon and that Konkana had condoned the most disgusting characteristic of Irfan?! I thought the movie had a very interesting concept but disapproved of the way it culminated.

saloni said...

Saw the movie ! amazing ! one of the best movies this year. Though I didnt like Kangana AT ALL .. I mean she was better in this movie than in Gangster but shes really lacking as an actress. Irfan and Konkana stole the show !!

hehe but nice review ! agreed, a must watch !

Agreed with shreya that the way the movie culminated wasn't the most approving but frankly speaking, the ending was really REALISTIC. I mean to think of it in todays time, this is how most weak marriages in india are handled. Its definitely realistic, and I think thats what the director was going for.

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