Director Mahesh Bhatt has always been known for some of his path breaking films like 'Arth', 'Saaransh', 'Naam', 'Janam', 'Aashiqui', 'Tamanna' and many more. He also gave us many musical hits and ended up his directorial innings by giving us a national award winning film 'Zakham'. After which he focused his creative skill to his production company and kept churning out tons of musical hits with a good amount of erotica, horror, crime genre attached to it. Last year, his production house gave its biggest hit in the form of 'Aashiqui 2', which was quite different from the films made under their banner. This motivated Mahesh Bhatt and thus he started focusing again on content based films which could match up to his earlier path-breaking films. Thus, his next produced film 'CityLights' features the director-actor combo of Hansal Mehta-Rajkummar Rao after the fresh success of their national award winning film 'Shahid'. So, let's find out, whether 'CityLights' will manage to match up with the standards of good cinema set up by Mahesh Bhatt and Hansal Mehta or might end up being among those films trying to cash in over its past glory.
'CityLights' narrates the tale of Deepak (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Rakhi (Patralekha) who comes to Mumbai from Rajasthan in search of work and a good life for their daughter. Right on the first day, Deepak is conned and thus has to lead a life full of hardship, misery and pain. Things start to improve only after he gets a job, but that is just a temporary phase of their life as what happens next is what the entire film is all about.Screenplay & Technicalities:
The movie is an official adaptation of an award winning international film 'Metro Manila' and has been adapted as per Indian situations. Memories of 'Do Biga Zameen', 'Gaman' and few more pops up in our mind instantly, as we speak about those films based on the theme of rural migration to an urban area. 'CityLights' sets its own benchmark and tries to show a realistic face of this genre. The makers choose a lighter way to portray the hardship and trouble that our main protagonist has to go through, without being over-dramatic at any given point.
The writing in the first half is engaging and tends to keep you restless over the curiosity factor. There are some brilliant scenes like Rajkummar getting conned followed by Patralekha's audition, Rajkummar's interview, Rajkummar-Manav Kaul's discussions along with Rajkummar's drunk scene which is the best scene of the entire film. The grip starts to loosen a bit in the second half as the movie starts focusing between Rajkummar Rao and Manav Kaul. At times scenes stretch to their fullest, leading to a predictable and not so satisfying climax.
The makers should have added more detailing about the couple and their hardship rather than focusing more on the crime part. Dialogues are simple yet heart touching and goes well with the flow of the film. The camera work is brilliant and there are many classic shots in the film, which matches up to the international standards. Editing is brilliant in the first half, but second half needed a little bit of trimming.
Music & Direction:
Music works as the soul of the film. Jeet Ganguly's brilliant songs works as an additional screenplay in the film. 'Muskurane', 'Ek Charraiya', 'Darbadar' and 'Sone Do' will haunt you for a long time. The basic tune itself, leaves a deep impact in every scene. Background music by Raju Singh does full justice to the feel of the film.
It is great to see this creative side of director Hansal Mehta after watching many of his dud films. The film maker found its true space in our Hindi cinema with 'Shahid' and claims to stay there for a longer time by making a heart touching film like 'CityLights'. He narrates the film with such simplicity yet giving every scene a deep meaning. However, he should have added more detailing to the film related to the Mumbai city as the hard hitting factor like in films such as 'Satya' or 'Chandni Bar' is missing. In addition, the climax could have been much better than what it was shown in the film.Performances:
Rajkummar Rao gives another astonishing performance. He expresses every scene with his eyes and body language. You can see the immense pain in his eyes and facial expressions. He outshines his contemporary actors by a higher margin. Patralekha is sweet and simple. Her innocent look works in the favour of the film. Both actors complement each other in every scene. Manav Kaul is brilliant in the film and comes up as a surprise package in the film.
So bol meri 'Filmi Khopdi' iss film mein kitna hain Dum?
Dum? Well, there is a massive dum for all those who love realistic heart touching films. Right from its direction, performances, dialogues, music and production level, 'CityLights' scores high in every field. The movie might not appeal to the masala film loving audience as this one is dark, gritty and disturbing. In short, 'CityLights' is a human tale set in inhumane times.Rating: 4/5