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'Citylights' : Movie Review

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Patralekhaa, Maanav Kaul

Directed By Hansal Mehta 


Well, there is no denying the fact that from many epochs performing art and cinema had been the mirror of our society and human civilization, and at times even more than that. And that's because many a times they have acquainted us to many such callous realities prevailing in our society which we often overlook in our day to day life. 

In this mercantile age of cinema where fiddling with commercial cinema has turned into a customary ritual for majority of cine-wizards who are more concerned about BO success of their cine offering, there are very few cine literati who possess that courage to paint those flinty and draconian societal realities on the celluloid in the form of a cine package. But those who have that valor, they know how to do that in best possible manner. And ace cinematician, Hansal Mehta is undoubtedly one of them. Hansal after exhibiting his excellent cine sense with critically acclaimed movies like "Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar" and "Shahid" has once again returned to the cine arena with his latest cine offering, Citylights, which presents the acrimonious dichotomy prevailing between urban and rural society and plight of have-nots with startling finesse.

Anyhow, before analyzing various aspects of the movie let's apprise you with the premise first. Plot of "Citylights" narrates the story of a couple, Deepak Singh (Rajkummar Rao) and Rakhi (Patralekhaa) residing in the remote region of Rajasthan, who after getting woebegone by the circumstances due to their devastated economical condition along with their lil daughter Mahi (baby Vaibhavi Upadhyay) migrate to city of dreams, Mumbai, with a hope of having a survival their. 

With just a mobile number of Deepak's friend in their hand the trio land in the city about which it is said that, no body sleeps empty stomach there. But on reaching Mumbai Deepak not only fails in tracing the whereabouts of his friend, but also gets conned by a property broker. When he approaches police station to register his complaint his wife has a rendezvous with a bar girl, who not only helps them in finding a shelter in an under construction building, but also arranges a job for Rakhi in a dance bar.

With frames rolling ahead Deepak too gets a job in a security bureau (which carry out the task of transporting cash and valuables of of their clients to different places), because of the benevolence of, Vishnu (Manav Kaul) under whom Deepak joins the bureau. Oblivious about the will of destiny Deepak starts assuming that his life has taken a right path, but one fine day, Vishnu reveals a master plan to him which could make them rich overnight. So, does Deepak capitulate to the enticement, or remains firm on his rustic ethics, to know watch this soulful cine delight of Hansal Mehta. 

Well as far as story of "Citylights" is concerned then I would like to apprise you beforehand that it's an official Hindi remake of the BAFTA-nominated British-Filipino cine cantata "Metro Manila". But even while dealing with a story-idea which is conspicuously borrowed and has fetched tons of laurels for itself in the past, Hansal has adroitly managed to keep xeroxing job at bay.

Anyhow, there is no denying the fact that premise of "Citylights" is not something which we have not seen in the past. But the way in which Hansal has blended the diverse raucous shades of life, like poverty, dichotomy of urban and rural ideology, issues pertaining to migrants, and even life of bar dancers, with the misery of that have-not strata of society which struggles every day for survival is simply marvelous. And somewhere down the line it manages to find its way to your hearts. The best part about the story-line of "Citylights" is that while keeping viewers' attention glued to the onscreen proceedings it remains proximate to reality for major span of run-time and never gets over-burdened with those redundant emotions. Although in the post interval part the plot of the movie gets a bit flimsy with a typical filmy climax, but over all it manages to mesmerize the viewers and leaves them emotionally-shattered along with a sense of contemplation. 

Even in dialogues department writing is quite authentic and writer has successfully managed to blend the dialectical-rhetoric with the feel of the movie with utmost excellence. 

As far as screenplay of the movie is concerned then even on this front Hansal along with screenplay writer Ritesh Shah has conveniently succeeded in painting an trustworthy cine portraiture. With lingo to milieu, and expressiveness to plight everything is amalgamated so beautifully with the screenplay, that you don't feel like diverting you attention anywhere from the onscreen proceedings. In the first half flow of the narration is top notch and thoroughly gripping, whereas in the post interval period the pace seems to be getting uneven which up-till some extent adversely impacts the charm which "Citylights" secures in the first half.

With every necessary detail kept intact, editing of Apurva Sahani, again scores a bull's-eye for the movie, background score of, Raju Singh is very much analogous to the overall spirit of the movie and conspicuously adds to the emotional appeal of the onscreen proceeding.

Besides it's DoP of the movie Dev Agarwal has done a magnificent, and has not only captured the tone of the movie with spellbinding dexterity, but has also added to the emotional radiance of the movie by his cinematic adroitness. 

In the music Jeet Gannguli has literally done wonders for "Citylights". Be it "Muskurane Ki Vajah", "Soney Do", "Ek Charraiya" or "Darbadar Phire" every song of the movie promptly finds its way to your heart. 

Well, as far as performance is concerned then, right from the onset it's, Rajkummar's entrancing performance which makes you speechless. And I don't have any qualm's in saying that with every passing flick this marvelous performer is raising the bench mark. Be it the soft mannerism, mouthing the regional dialect or the emotional expressiveness everything, Rajkummar performs with such a conviction that you start empathizing with his onscreen character of Deepak Singh. And if we talk about Patralekhaa who plays his wife in the movie, then after seeing her performance it becomes hard to believe that she is debuting with this movie, just like Rajkummar even Patralekhaa successfully manages to slip under the skin of her character and manages to secure a bunch of kudos for herself.

Junior artist baby Vaibhavi Upadhyay too impresses with her innocence. But the man who surprises everyone by his acting potential is, Manav Kaul, who through out his appearance span on the big screen looks extremely natural and in top form. Sadia Siddique, as Manav's wife too succeeds in leaving her mark.

To sum up, with power-packed narrative, mesmerizing music and a soul-perturbing message, "Citylights" exposes you to the acrimonious realities pertaining to the lives of those, for whom struggle for survival begins every morning. In fact it won't be wrong to say that this, Hansal Mehta cine offering is such a cine spectacular which compels you to introspect and leaves you with a sense of contemplation.

And as far as rating is concerned then movies like "Citylights" are beyond the purview of any rating, because it is next to impossible to gauge the emotional impact which they leave on viewers, but as it is customary, hence I am going ahead with three out of five for this masterpiece starring Rajkummar Rao and Patralekhaa.


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