I saw the future of Hindi cinema. And it’s got a name. “Shor In The City”. They say Mumbai never goes to sleep. Catching the restless on-the-edge mood of a city and its people who refuse to fall off that edge of the hurtling local train that takes thousands of destinies every day to their work and then back home, “Shor…” throws forward the kind of seductive cinema that makes you think about the quality of life we all lead, irrespective of the city that we occupy, or rather, the city that occupies us.
Mumbai, in co-directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK’s scheme of things, is that giant monster that consumes everything that moves. The characters are all casualties of that traffic-jam freedom that comes to a commuter stranded in the middle of a highway in a car with nowhere to go and nothing to do with time than to spend it in idle retrospection (with or without music playing in the background).
The mood of this tense, clenched and thoroughly gripping humane thriller is so spiritedly Mumbai-centric you applaud the director’s vision after the last shot of the work swishes by. The rapid movements of images of extreme emotional crises and the ensuing violence, are so skilfully put forward you don’t feel you are being manipulated into staying riveted to the screen. You flow with the frenzied pace of a people whose lives are out of control.
“Shor In The City” pins you down to its brilliant screenplay from the first frame when we see the three waylaid youngsters Tusshar, Nikhil Diwedi and Pitobash negotiate the crowded streets of Mumbai in search of prey. The characters work both as predators and as victims. They feel the gun gives them the right of way when, in fact, the traffic snarl of life has got them by their balls.
There are three protagonists with their ‘Mumbai’ stories to tell. Sawan (Sundeep Kishan) wants to play national-level cricket. Tilak (Tusshar) wants to give up a life of crime to focus on reading and housekeeping (in that order). But the most interesting strand in the lucid lineup of conflicted characters is the NRI Abhay (Sendhil Ramamurthy), whose dreams of setting up his own business in the city are turned into a nightmare by goons who muscle into his work-place and life with menacing insidiousness.
The interaction between the NRI and the goons is chilling to the core. So real because they sound so unrehearsed. Abhay’s lapse into a life that he had probably left behind, is charted in a zigzag of humour and irony.
The pace is so relentless, we don’t even get a chance to applaud the even narration that defines these jagged lives as they hurl towards a karma that we are not allowed to guess.
The co-directors succeed in remaining many steps ahead of the audience. The masterly editing (Ashmith Kunder) and the moody earthy cinematography (Tushar Kanti Ray) aids the director in building a conflagration of compelling montages that add up to a climax that doesn’t quite add-up…and rightly so. There are no neat conclusions to these lives that are stuck in their desperate bid to escape their karma.
Karma, the theme song tells you, is a bitch. Watching the people who move through their designated anguish with such furious fluency, you have to agree with the opinion that destiny deals a bitchy blow to most working-class people in the cities.
“Shor In The City” is a work suffused in an inspiring glory. The characterization is so precise and the dialogues so perfectly attuned to the minds and hearts of the characters you wonder which came first. The people in the film. Or the film itself.
I have not seen a film so filled with credible performances in a while. Even the smallest cameo is done by the perfect face and personality. Whom do we single out without doing injustice to the rest? But yes, Tusshar as the bad-boy finding salvation in books and wife gives an interesting spin to his character. This is a far cry from his over-the-top Golmaal escapades.
Nikhil Diwedi and newcomer Pitobash as Tusshar’s accomplices are entirely in tune with their characters blending so well with the milieu you are sure no one gave any of these actors a second glance on the streets of Mumbai where the script often ventures out.
Sundeep Kishan as the boy who wants to play cricket and get married brings a certain simplicity to the tangled goings-on. You could say he’s the voice of innocence in the cacophony of selfserving diabolism. Among the female characters Radhika Apte as Tusshar’s simple but strong wife reminded me of Tabu in “Viraasat”.
There are stand-out cameos by Amit Mistry (as a street goonda who specializes in organizing dharnas), Zakir Hussain (as an extortionist) and several other actors who bleed a brilliance into the plot for just fleeting moments before vanishing into the crowds of Mumbai.
Yes, the city has been savage and inviting before in the cinema of Raj Kumar Santoshi and Ram Gopal Varma. But never so funny. There’s a moment when a little boy whose foot Tusshar thinks has been blown away by a mistimed bomb, stands and dances in the Ganpati visarjan.
That moment defines the cutting edge of the humour in “Shor In The City”. If Mumbai is troubled by violence and greed it survives so splendidly because it never takes its problems to heart.
Don’t miss this outstanding ode to the city of dreams, goons, guns and glory.