A still from Shor in the city
Cast: Tusshar Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Nikhil Dwivedi, Pitobash Tripathi, Senthil Ramamurthy, Zakir Hussain
Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK
Rating: ** 1/2
Films about Mumbai have always thrived on stereotypes and will continue to do so. But despite the cliches, 'Shor in the City' manages to bring it together, tickling and terrorizing you in equal proportion. And Shor's biggest merit is that it doesn't forcefully weave the parallel stories that light up the screen (down with Kukunoor!). The characters may spill over from one to the other but don't necessarily become game-changers for the neighbouring plot.
So let's get to the root of the shor. The film is divided into three parallel stories being narrated in snatches during Mumbai's noisiest time of the year- the ten-day celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi (the best way to maximise the tittle?). The first is a 'dark' tale (not a pun on the complexion) of Abhay (Sendhil Ramamurthy), a US-returned businessman who wants to set up a small business. And without getting into the nature or purpose, his entrepreneurial venture is referred to (at least a dozen times) as just that, 'a small business'. While trying to find his ground in Mumbai, he goes through the typical challenges of bribing just about anyone who spots him. This is usually conducted utilising the Indian unspoken sign for demanding a bribe: a wide smile. Not enough? A wider smile! Abhay bumps into bimbo-model Sharmili (Preeti Desai) whose chief purpose (during her limited stint in this story) is to seduce Abhay and quite convincingly at that. Abhay's cool and composed life takes a dark and creepy turn once he chooses to cross some local goons by refusing to bribe them.
The next one is about three local cocky criminals, Tilak (Tusshar Kapoor), Ramesh (Nikhil Dwivedi) and Mandook (Pitabash Tripathy). While Tilak is a proprietor of a bootleg books establishment (and he has a conscience too!), the other two are random street rats constantly hunting for novel ways to break the law. Their slumdog lives take a leap for the worse when they chance upon a bag full of explosives and arms by robbing a random local train passenger (what are the odds?). This track eventually culminates into a comical bank robbery (borrowed from many movies) that falls flat after a great build-up and some well-written situations.
The third and most underplayed yet interestingly picturised story is that of aspiring cricketer Saawan (Sundeep Kishan), who is desperate to seek a spot in the under-22 team, while trying to convince his love interest of a dependable future. This sequence includes quintessentially Mumbai shots like the one of this couple along with many others indulging in synchronised kissing at Mumbai's most popular make-out hotspot after Bandstand, Reclamation. This story explores Saawan's dilemma as he is on the fence about an issue that questions his morality.
Indian filmmakers have always crafted characters that are either too fantastic yet ideal for 'reel' or stereotypically real which ends up like a caricature. But Shor's cast manages to tread on the fat gap between these two extremes and how they respond to situations they are thrown in is just as believable. While one story raises the mercury level, the other defuses the tension in seconds. The film's music follows this pattern too as it has numbers that are noisy- 'Karma is a bitch' and soothing- 'Saibo'.
Among the performances, Sendhil clearly scores over the others, while Pitabash might fit like a glove into roles usually allotted for Rajpal Yadav. Tusshar does find more screen space than others in his story which could be a bother for some viewers. But then if both the producers are your blood relations, that is the least one would expect, no?
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